Sunday, June 26, 2011

Fred Shero

Fred Shero

Shero during his playing days with the New York Rangers


October 23, 1925(1925-10-23)
Winnipeg, MB, CAN


November 24, 1990(1990-11-24) (aged 65)
Camden, NJ, USA


5 ft. 10 in (1.78 m)


185 lb. (84 kg; 13 st 3 lb.)





Played for

New York Rangers

Playing career


Frederick Alexander "The Fog" Shero (October 23, 1925 - November 24, 1990) was a Canadian professional ice hockey player, coach, and general manager. He played for the New York Rangers of the National Hockey League (NHL). However, he spent most of his playing career in the minor leagues. Following his playing career, he went into coaching, spending 13 years coaching in the minor leagues before making it to the NHL. As an NHL head coach, Shero won the Stanley Cup twice with the Philadelphia Flyers (1974 and 1975) and reached the Stanley Cup Finals three times in Philadelphia (1974, 1975, and 1976). He also had four consecutive seasons of having a 0.700 or better winning percentage and remains the Flyers all-time leader in coaching victories. Shero controversially left the Flyers following the 1977-78 season to become the head coach of the New York Rangers, whom he led to the Stanley Cup Finals in his first season. He resigned from the Rangers after coaching for less than three seasons. Shero had a unique style of coaching that led to several innovations that are still used today. He was the first coach to hire a full-time assistant coach, employ systems, have his players use in season strength training, study film, and he was one of the first coaches to utilize a morning skate.

He was known for his enigmatic and introverted personality often times appearing or disappearing from a room unnoticed, or being completely lost in thought. He often left philosophical sayings on a chalkboard as a way of provoking thought or as a motivational tool.

Prior to game six of the 1974 Stanley Cup Finals, Shero wrote his now famous quote "Win today and we walk together forever" - a statement that continues to be quoted to this day.

Another quote worth remembering from Shero is “Success is not the result of spontaneous combustion; you must first set yourself on fire.”

We will use both of these quotes in our team meetings this week. You just never know when someone else’s words will strike a nerve in one of your athletes. As coaches, that is one of our major job requirements – striking nerves, compelling athletes into action. Have a great week in the pool!!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Two Basic Questions

It is a pretty exciting weekend for mid-June. We are at the Santa Clara International Grand Prix meet here in California. In addition to many of the stars of US Swimming there are racers from Australia, New Zealand, Canada, South Africa, South Korea and Mexico. Many of the big names from the US contingent – Dana Vollmer, Natalie Coughlin, Michael Phelps and Ryan Lochte to name a few – are using this meet as a tune up for the World Championships being held July 24-31, 2011, Shanghai, China.

We wondered what we would do if one of those swimmers came to our pool for a week or two to train? What could we offer that would be meaningful to them? How could we be effective as a coach to such an accomplished athlete?

The first thing we would do would be to ask them two questions. The first is “What is the one thing you haven’t done in the training pool that would make a difference in your racing?” The second is, “Knowing yourself as well as you do, how would you coach a competitor to out race you in your best event?”

We believe that honest answers to those two questions would be a great start to the week. Each of us knows – regardless of the level at which we participate – what we are avoiding in the training pool that we already know would help us. Each of us also is very familiar with the chinks in our armor. Properly motivated, every single person on the planet could stop avoiding what they know is keeping them from being more successful. Each of us also knows how we need to shore up our game.

Have a great week – in and out of the pool!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

The Challenges of Holding Patterns

Every now and then we find some of our swimmers get stuck in what we refer to as a “holding pattern.” We define this as a space where lots of activity occurs but the swimmer is going nowhere. It comes of course from the airplane analogy of not being allowed to land so the plane is put in a holding pattern, circling the airport, going nowhere while waiting for a chance to land.

This time of year our swimmers are particularly vulnerable to holding patterns. They have completed their high school season three weeks ago. Many have just finished finals. Some have graduated. There are endless social events to attend. There isn’t so much sleep happening…you get the picture.

The challenge is that the clock is ticking, endlessly, without regard for your personal situation. First a few days go by, then a week…10 days out of touch turns into 2 or 3 weeks. Now the long course season is in full swing and the swimmer hasn’t really trained all that much. The State Sectional meet is 5 plus weeks away; Nationals are 2 plus weeks after that. If you aren’t into training fully engaged you are running dangerously close to not being able to taper.

We find that this process is rarely intentional. It just sort of happens. One event leads to another; one dinner cannot be missed, let alone be late to…the beat goes on. The intentions are good, “I’ll start again Monday,” or, “As soon as my last final is done I’ll get back into the swing of it.”

So, how is one to avoid this dangerous trap or cycle?

Pretty simple from where we sit. Have a clear vision of what it is you want to get done; figure out which choices are most in line with that vision and then execute your plan.

Realize that you cannot make everyone happy. But you are in charge of your decisions so you must own them. Five weeks from now at the State meet all those friends that you had to see at all those parties will be nowhere near you…and of no assistance as you endeavor to swim fast.

So, have a plan; stick to it; make your choices based upon your plan; own your swimming career. Not rocket science but very effective.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Tossing Kickboards

We have this "thing" going on after nearly every workout where we have a contest, tossing kickboards into the "bin" - the wire basket on wheels that contains them. We have one for pull buoys but the game isn't the same for some reason and we actually rarely even engage in it. But the kickboards, aha! Now this is a real beauty of a game.

The reason is that the farther away you stand the less control you have of your accuracy. If there is any kind of wind then all bets are off...but we still go for it. We have discovered that underhand tosses are far better than overhead. The mixed strategy is that the farther away from the bin you are the more loft you need to get the board there. If there is wind, the more loft you have the trickier the get the idea.

Thursday morning the bin was next to the pool fence. Our fence is 10 feet high. If the board goes over it is a long walk around the gym to retrieve it. You definitely don't want that to happen.

We often take a couple of shorter tosses to get warmed up. Ken was working the scene pretty well. Then he took several steps back so he was a good 30 feet away. He needed a bunch of loft if he was going to make his shot. There was a breeze working, often with gusts. His shot was up and clearly from the outset going to be wide danger of going over the fence but wide to the left even as it left his hand.

His comment was, "I wanted to make sure it didn't go over the fence." It didn't and the shot was wide to the left of the bin...not way wide but nevertheless not in the bin.

He looked at me and said, "There is your blog for this week," all the while flashing his engaging smile.

"Winners see what they want; losers see what they want to avoid."

A golfer says, "I sure hope I don't land in the sand trap." A swimmer says, "I hope I don't go out too hard and die," a runner says, "I don't want my legs to cramp up at the end of my race," the list is endless..."I sure hope I don't botch this interview".
Next time you are lining up for your "shot", check your self-talk. Make sure you see what you want rather than what you want to avoid.

(Best kickboard toss on our team, by Ken of course - is around 55 feet, with a slight breeze. The size of the bin is about 24" x 36")