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High Performers "Get their REPS IN!"

Watch Ryan's video delivering 4 Key tactics on how pros "Get their REPS IN."

The habits of our lives, our businesses, and our relationships either produce our desired results, or they don’t.

In the World of Sport, We Like to Say: Championship Habits Deliver Championships.

Scotty Bowman (NHL), Bill Belichick (NFL), Phil Jackson (NBA), and other successful coaches have all at one time or another confirmed this notion. If you ever sit next to a professional sports coach on an airplane, shake the coach’s hand, look him in the eye, and ask with a big smile, “Hey coach, how are the habits of your team?”

The coach is likely to respond with either a cautiously optimistic: “pretty good so far,” or, you might hear: “our habits suck!” Most coaches will tell you that there is no in between. At the highest level of sport, coaches are obsessed with the habits, what we like to call the action-automatics, of their players.

When Bill Belichick was asked after his 6th Super Bowl win, “What are you most proud of?” he never hesitated. “It’s our PLAYERS… they practice hard, they put the work in, and that delivered our success.”

The proper game preparation (practice) frees players up to increase their Flow-State during their games. Practiced (slow-thinking) action, turns into fast, unconscious habit (or action-automatics) as players generate multiple repetitions during practice.

Have You Put "Your Reps In?"

If this is true - that the action-automatics of our life, our game, or our business deliver our performance results - then let me ask you the questions:

On a scale of 1 to 10, how are the habits of your personal & professional life?

On a scale of 1 to 10, how are the habits of the team that you are part of?

In any area of our life or game, when we do not yet see consistent, desired results, then it’s time to re-evaluate, build a better performance-process to put in more reps, and increase our subconscious action-automatics.

Perhaps you have heard it said that “practice does not make perfect performance, rather, perfect practice generates perfect performance.” Let me be the contrarian and say both ideas are wrong!

Perfect practice does not guarantee perfect play until players get their reps in! When multiple reps are added to the equation, and the practiced action is repeated so often that it becomes an action-automatic (a subconscious habit), then we increase our chance to maximize this skill.

The games of our lives will not all be perfect, but the action-automatics of our life structure will certainly deliver our long term positive or negative performance results.

What amazes me is how often we (the royal we) allow ourselves and our teams to practice wrong. Let’s keep it personal. What desired outcome have you not yet achieved? In other words, what are you practicing wrong?

If you are reviewing the specific habits of your life that deliver results or do not deliver results, have a hard look at the edges of your life first. What does the process of how you get up in the morning look like? What habits have you allowed around your process to get to sleep in the evening? Do you see successful habits on both sides of your sleep? Obviously, our exercise habits, our eating habits, and our relationship habits also contribute to defining the life we choose to live.

Let’s Look at My Game!

Most power plays at the NHL level do not accomplish their desired performance-results (scoring goals) because they don’t generate enough good scoring chances. Prime scoring chances are often created by shots on net through intentional traffic (players in front of, otherwise known as screening, the goalie).

The structure of most power plays is fine, but the process or the execution of the power plays often becomes ineffective because of one external problem: the opponents (penalty killers) tend to sacrifice their bodies by blocking the shots that need to get through to the screened goalie.

Penalty killers deliberately line their bodies up between the shooter’s stick blade (where the puck is) and the net, “getting in the lane” of the shot. Eighty-plus percent of the time, the power play shooters will choose not to shoot the puck because they do not want the puck to rebound off the defender’s legs. Without shots through traffic, most power plays just pass the puck around the outside of the penalty killers’ structure and fail to get pucks through.

What’s the solution to the problem, coach?

The action-automatics of the power play players, of course!

Players that have success in today’s game practice the process of consistently faking a shot and then moving laterally to put the shot on net. If you watch NHL games, don’t count the power play shots on net, count the times that players fake a shot first and then place the shot on net.

What’s the Key Principle?

Using the metaphor of a hockey power play helps illustrate the issue, but it’s not a hockey-only issue - agreed? This power play problem also sheds light on the performance-results of our whole lives. If we fail to practice the process long enough to make it an action-automatic (or habit), then we will never execute this action under game-pressure or during the high-pressure times of our lives.

The NHL power play solution is to fake a shot and create what hockey calls enough “separation,” and then place the shot, through traffic, on net. I watch practices at every level of our game. Guess what I very seldom see? Coaches (and players) constantly practicing this simple skill of deception. If the desired-outcome-change doesn’t get into the practice-process, then it will never become an action-automatic… and will not get executed under “game time” pressure.

Making it Personal

When I was an NHL player, I figured out this principle early in my career. I worked hard to integrate it into my philosophy and used it to continuously better my game. Under the scrutiny and pressure at the NHL level and especially playing for the Montreal Canadiens, if my performance-processes were not cemented into my unconscious, as action-automatics, I would never execute the successful play that I desired.

Therefore, I intentionally selected specific practices throughout the season in which every time I was about to take a shot on net, I would fake the shot, move six inches laterally and then shoot the puck. This meant that during these practices, I couldn’t just fake a shot when I wanted to. No! This plan meant I was required to fake the shot every single time that I took a shot in that specific practice. That’s how I got my reps in!

I am not saying that I have the game of hockey figured out, but I am saying that I have learned to build a process to build the action-automatics that deliver most of my success.

After you have developed your Future-Positive Goal, don’t continue your focus on the performance-results; focus on the performance-process that, when practiced enough, delivers the action-automatics that provide these results. John Wooden, the winningest NCAA Basketball coach in history, made one of my favourite statements: “I don’t worry about winning or losing. I worry about [or focus on] practicing the details that give us the win.”

Pardon me? The winningest coach ever in NCAA Basketball history doesn’t focus on winning (performance-results)! He focuses his players on practicing the details (performance-process) that gives his team the win. This is a powerful and foundational principle!

How do performance-results, performance-process, practice, and action-automatics play out in your game? Do you:

  • Focus on the performance results that you desire to generate or improve?

  • Break down which actions (performance-process) must be executed consistently in order to accomplish these outcomes?

  • “Get your reps in” as a way to automate those actions into the habits of your life?

Let me illustrate how this has personally worked for me in my non-hockey world. I have never had great teeth, and I have struggled to consistently care for them. I was a hockey player so I shouldn’t have any real teeth anyway, right? My problem was twofold: night time grinding and lack of flossing. From kid to adult, every time the dentist asked me if I flossed, my response was always, “not enough.”

I met an amazing dentist while living in Osoyoos, British Columbia, named Jason Bartsch, and two things happened: Jason made me a professional mouth guard for sleep time, and I developed a specific flossing process that really worked well for me. So far, so good. I understood perfectly my desired outcome and the performance results that I was focused on.

What process, then, did I need to practice? Two key actions needed to get cemented (sorry for the pun) into place: wearing the mouth guard as I slept and flossing daily. But, remembering to do these two things had been my nemesis for a big chunk of my life. How was I going to change this negative, non-performance habit in my mid-fifties? How was I going to "get my reps in?"

Building a Process Practice Was the Key!

I was hit and miss for the first couple of months. We travelled a lot and pulling that mouth guard out of my shaving kit was never a consistent action. For me, I have to see it to consistently be reminded to do it. Flossing started off with a bang and then faded… until I found a way to be reminded of my performance-processes.

My wife Jenn and I created an automated, text-centric, coaching process to help us (and other athlete and executives) initiate and sustain our desired actions. My first experiment was on me.

I built an “active” question [Coaching Questions to increase Performance] to be auto-delivered to me in the form of a text every night at 7pm. The question read, on a slider bar from 1 to 10, with 1 being not so good, and 10 being amazing: “Did you do your best to floss your teeth today?”

The genius of the technology is that it keeps the performance-process I want to focus on in front of me daily and holds me accountable for my actions until I build the appropriate action-automatic memory muscles. I am thrilled to tell you that I now floss every day, and sometimes more than once per day. My teeth have never been so healthy, and I have now changed my questions so I can work on the next action-automatic habits I am trying to create.

The Key Focus!

Every dentist that I have ever had has told me that I could really improve my teeth by flossing. But looking back, I realize that none of my dentists thought, through a coach's eyes, to build a process to get my reps in that would help me deliver their desired results. I knew what to do. But until I was forced to focus on the performance-process, and then get my reps in, I didn’t do it.

All of us can implement these key principles to generate desired outcomes in every part of our lives! Remember the 3-step process that we have been discussing:

  1. Know what you want to change… PERFORMANCE-RESULTS (or in terms of our TTM model, Future Positive Focus).

  2. Identify and focus on the PERFORMANCE-PROCESS that will deliver your results. (Future Positive Process)

  3. Find a way to get your reps in, practicing this process until it becomes an ACTION-AUTOMATIC(Future Positive Automatic Action).

What part of the 3 steps (above) are you not executing?

I know you! You want to play hard; you want to have success; you want to compete at the highest level; you want to intentionally create successful action-automatics!

It's your game. GET YOUR REPS IN!


Make Sure You Watch Ryan's Video Delivering 4 Key Tactics on How You Can


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