Boston Sports Medicine and Performance Group, LLC Blog

Elevate or Fire: Managing Employees

Posted by Boston Sports Medicine and Performance Group on Tue, Jul 6, 2010 @ 13:07 PM

The old way to manage people is to instill fear in them.  Let them know that you hold all the cards.  That you sign their paycheck and ultimately can have their desk cleaned out.

"Fall in line or else!"

Wouldn't it be easier to instead instill motivation and vigor instead of fear? Let them know that you are there to help them solve problems, promote their work, help them make connections to other people and provide new skills for them to succeed?

I guess the end result is the same though.

In both scenarios their desks end up cleaned out.  The first scenario after you fire them, the second because you created an environment for growth and promotion and ultimately they leave to take a better job.

The only difference is a lot more work gets done in the second scenario. And of course, usually ends in a hug and a thank you.

Topics: john wooden, Good to Great, discipline, Seth Godin, strength and conditioning tips, superdiscipline

An Alien Visits Your Athletic Training Room

Posted by Boston Sports Medicine and Performance Group on Thu, Jun 17, 2010 @ 22:06 PM

An alien visits your athletic training room during your fall pre-participation physicals where you are performing your standard evaluations consisting of height, weight, blood pressure and pulse.

"I see you measuring everyone's height?" The alien asks. "You must have a terrible shrinking problem that you want to keep track of and monitor closely?"

"Well no, we just measure their height, record it in their chart and it's never looked at again."

The alien scratches his tentacles inquisitively, "Well surely then you must be tracking closely their body weight and have a terrible case of weight gain here which you then correlate to health and performance parameters later on?"

"Um, not exactly, once in a while the football coach wants to know how much weight a kid gained, or we use it maybe once a year to track a sudden loss in weight for athletes with eating disorders, but other than that it's usually recorded and forgotten about."

The alien stands puzzled even further.  An awkward silence sets in until the alien proudly bursts out, "I see you taking blood pressure and pulse?" His pride obvious now, "surely this population you work with has a high rate of cardiovascular disease in which you must observe, monitor, treat and watch closely yes?"

"Well actually, the athletes we see are 18-22 years old and rarely suffer from cardiovascular disease although we do manage to find some outliers that escape their home physician and we are able to help them, but this number is very small."

"Tell me then, what evaluation is taking place on those tables across the room?" the alien asks, pointing at the row of treatment tables filled with athletes covered in ice bags.

"That's not an evaluation, that's treatment for injuries the athletes have sustained from running, jumping and throwing too much."

"Do those injuries happen often?" the alien asks.

"Yes, all the time! You should see the athletic training room in the afternoons," beamed the young athletic trainer. "Some days you can hardly get enough ice bags or e-stim machines available for everyone."

"And you say this happens all the time?"

"Yes, yes - every year! It basically takes up our entire day. Some days I have to stay a couple of hours late after work just to get enough ice and e-stim on everyone"

The alien obviously troubled asks, "So what evaluations do you do for those athletes prior to becoming injured? For the athletes with the ice bags on their backs, ankles and knees?"

"We don't do any evaluations for those things," the athletic trainer responds.

The alien reaches into his solar-pack, grabs his intra-planet communication device and radios back to base, "requesting immediate pick-up! No intelligent life here."

Now, I can poke fun and joke about this "processing of data" or should I say, lack thereof because I'm an athletic trainer and have caught myself doing this.  I'm not trying to minimize the importance of cardiovascular screening in the least. I do however think that we might be missing a golden opportunity to screen and address for other problems that take up the majority of our days along with the usual screening tools?

How many kids with high blood pressure do you refer and care for compared to the number of kids you evaluate and treat with anterior knee pain?  Did you wait until the kid's heart hurt to measure his blood pressure?  Then why wait until the kid's knee is swollen to evaluate his hip strength? ROM or ankle mobility?

Let's prove the alien wrong this fall.

Art Horne is the Coordinator of Care and Strength & Conditioning Coach for the Men's Basketball Team at Northeastern University, Boston MA.  He can be reached at

A special thanks to Matt Nichol who presented at the Second Annual Boston Hockey Summit and Basketball Symposium who challenged each attendee to look at the way we currently do business with a fresh set of eyes.

Topics: basketball conference, basketball training programs, boston hockey conference, performance testing, Good to Great, discipline, athletic training books, sports performance

Who Wins - Mental Toughness or Daily Discipline?

Posted by Boston Sports Medicine and Performance Group on Thu, Mar 11, 2010 @ 20:03 PM

    When I hear strength coaches talk about discipline, I often think about an example that Jim Collins gives from his book, Good to Great, where he describes the “rinsing your cottage cheese factor.”

    He writes, “The analogy comes from a disciplined world-class athlete named Dave Scott, who won the Hawaii Ironman Triathlon six times. In training, Scott would ride his bike 75 miles, swim 20,000 meters, and run 17 miles - on average, every single day.  Dave Scott did not have a weight problem! Yet he believed that a low-fat, high-carbohydrate diet would give him an extra edge. So, Dave Scott - a man who burned at least 5,000 calories a day in training - would literally rinse his cottage cheese to get the extra fat off. Now, there is no evidence that he absolutely needed to rinse his cottage cheese to win the Ironman; that’s not the point of the story.  The point is that rinsing his cottage cheese was simply one more small step that he believed would make him just that much better, one more small step added to all the other small steps to create a consistent program of superdiscipline."

    I’ve often thought that discipline is the one virtue which set the very best athletes apart from those that were merely average.  However, much has been made recently of developing mental toughness in our athletes in order to better prepare them for “when the going gets tough”.  My friend, Brijesh Patel, Head Strength and Conditioning at Quinnipiac, has done a terrific job writing and presenting on this exact topic and has convinced me and a number of other coaches to integrate some of his strategies into our own programming.  Whether it’s a grueling finishing exercise, an ungodly number of sprints, or work-capacity circuits that the Geneva Conventions would call abusive, the goal remains the same; push the athlete to a limit they are uncomfortable with so when the same uncomfortable situation arises in competition they are ‘mentally tough’ enough to persevere.

    I remember the exact moment I asked Mike Boyle about training athletes in order to develop mental toughness. His response: “Being tough is showing up on time, every time.  It’s about doing the little things all the time.  That’s tough.”  From that moment forward I became conflicted on whether these mental toughness programs/exercises were simply making my athletes tired (I mean, anyone can make a kid sweat, tired and cramp) or if I was in fact instilling an inner warrior mentality that would be unleashed at the time of competition?

    I think we all understand the mental toughness part, but instilling a culture of “superdiscipline” as described by Collins means demanding and having our athletes touch the baseline each and every time during conditioning drills, closing out under control on a three-point shooter with hands up instead of  “fly-by” which basically takes you out of the play pending a missed shot, “Walling Up” on your man with arms straight up and staying down instead of leaving your feet during a fake shot attempt, defending for the entire 35 second shot clock, showing up on time for a 2:00pm lift (that’s not walking in the door at 2:00 pm but rather being prepared and ready at 2:00pm), being the first on the floor at practice to get extra shots up AND having purpose to your shooting drills (putting up 300 shots vs. putting up 300 total shots with the goal of making 70 percent from the left elbow after a cross-over dribble), coming to the weight room 10 min early to address mobility and stretching needs outside the scope of training that day, waking up 15 minutes early so you can eat breakfast rather than show up for 6am lift on an empty stomach, or disciplined enough to pack snacks and plan your meals for the next day so you don’t begin afternoon practice on an empty stomach. Now THAT’S being “superdisiplined”.

    So when the game is on the line, when you must get a defensive stop to seal a win, or when you have to stretch a ball screen all the way, was your success or failure due to your athlete’s mental toughness or a lifestyle of “rinsing the cottage cheese”?

Art Horne is the Coordinator of Care and Strength & Conditioning Coach for the Men’s Basketball Team at Northeastern University, Boston MA.  He can be reached at

Register for this year's Boston Hockey Summit and Basketball Symposium!





Topics: basketball conference, boston hockey summit, training, Good to Great, discipline, Mike Boyle, sports performance, mental toughness, superdiscipline