A Champion Swimmer Manifesting His Goals

Coaching for Champions blog post, May 2017

by Kamala Nellen

Though I usually prefer to work with young or professional athletes—simply because of their enthusiasm and their drive to succeed—I recently found that the passion to excel in a sport is not age specific.

In March I met a real champion outside of the youth and professional demographic, someone who has delighted and astounded me as he describes the big results he is reaching for and who has the drive to sustain his momentum. Peter is 55. He is a natural born swimmer. How do I know? He is bursting with excitement as he shares the joy he feels in the water. He strives to reach the goals he has set for himself. So, I have to say, Peter is an ideal client and I am happy he has crossed my path.

Peter said he never had the chance to follow his dream in high school because his school had no pool. When he got to college, he felt unprepared for competitive swimming. Since he hadn’t competed in high school, he didn’t have the confidence to follow his heart. Over time, however, his dream kept surfacing until, finally, he just had to follow through. From my perspective, if Peter had trusted the passion he felt in college, he would have won gold at the Olympics. I am thrilled and proud to say that now Peter is a champion swimmer! He has found his confidence and his stride. He just won two medals at the 2017 Nationwide US Masters Swimming Spring National Championship in Riverside. He is far from complete with the goals he has set for himself, and I am excited to have a front row seat and to share his journey as a support. I have no doubt he will reach his goals. Age is no issue for Peter.

Peter is a school teacher by profession, so he works regular hours and his job is demanding. At 5:30 a.m. every day, before he goes to his classroom, he is in a swimming pool, training with his teammates, all of whom are top-level competitors, and getting pointers from swimmers who have participated in Olympic trials and several USMS national record holders. When Peter reached out to me in March, he was preparing for Nationals, which was five weeks away. He had entered seven races—yes, seven! Five individual races and two relays. When he came through the door for his first session, he was grinning with enthusiasm. In describing his goals, Peter unfurled a list of the many races he wants to do—not just in a pool but also in the ocean! His fervor for competitive swimming was contagious.

Peter had already stretched his limits a number of times. One of the ocean races he completed was a relay from Alcatraz Island in which his leg of the race began at 2:00 a.m. As he told his story, Peter’s face reflected the ecstatic feeling he had during that nighttime swim—seeing the blanket of stars above him and the glow of the algae then present in the sea around him. Once he had hit his optimum tempo, he saw that he had gained a companion—a dolphin surfaced from below and began to swim alongside, as if cheering Peter on his way!

In Peter’s sessions with me, he is attentive and totally focused on the physical and mental practices I give him. He gladly accepts my suggestions and has always done the between-session homework I give him. Probably, this is because he’s had astounding results.

It is a privilege and a joy for me to work with Peter and I look forward to supporting him on the next leg of his competitive journey. I’ve told him that when he goes for his highest goal, I want to be in the stands. I am sure, as the years go by, he is going break his own records and, more than likely, the records of other swimmers in his age group. Competitive athletes of any age can take a lesson from Peter. He is clearly a champion.

Kamala Nellen is a sports performance enhancement coach in Ventura County, CA, with 40 years experience using time proven tools that dramatically improve sports performance. Contact Kamala Nellen at www.kamalanellen.com to start manifesting your goals. Get Kamala Nellen’s book on Amazon: Working IN: The Elite Athlete’s Guide to Working Out from the Inside.

How Can An Elite Athlete Stay Balanced In An Atmosphere Of Constant Change?

Ice Hockey

When you are an elite athlete, your life is constantly changing. You sign contracts, you transition from one league to another, you change teams, you change positions. You also have to deal with injuries, distractions, interpersonal challenges, exhaustion, the split second changes you have to make during competition, and the threat of not keeping your contract.

How can you possibly stay balanced in the midst of everything that is happening?

Here are 3 practices that will help you learn the skill of balance:

1. Meditate. Meditation rests the mind and strengthens your ability to focus. You already know how to focus on your sport, of course; this is how you became an elite athlete. Focus is an essential part of any accomplishment. But when you focus too much on your thoughts, they drain your energy. Through the practice of meditation, you develop the ability to simply observe your thoughts, and when you do this, your thoughts quiet down. When your mind is quiet, your brain can rest and refresh itself. And when your mind is quiet, solutions appear that you may not have considered when you were busy trying to figure things out. With a daily meditation practice, you will find that you react more effectively on the field because you have learned to get out of the way of habitual thinking patterns that hamper you. You will learn to trust that you can act spontaneously from a deep and highly effective inner guidance system. More often than not, your game will be on.

2. Slow down and you will get to your destination early. Even if you do not meditate, make space in your schedule every day to sit and do nothing for a few minutes. You will benefit immensely. Tell your mind to take a walk; say you will listen to it later. Turn off your wireless devices, put everything down, and stare into space. Justallow your senses to take in life as it’s happening around you. Be present to the simplicity of the moment. Relax and let go of all the thoughts that weigh you down. Your nervous system will settle into normal functioning. Once you’ve slowed down a bit, you will get to your destination early.

3. Journal. Take time to study yourself and reflect. Do this every day. When you write down your thoughts and feelings on a regular basis, you learn about the empowerment that is inherent in self-study. You are capable of guiding yourself effectively and deliberately toward what you want. When you take the time to listen to yourself, you’ll find that you make good sense! You know what to do. After allowing yourself to fully express your worries and concerns, you’ll find that a solution floats up to the surface of your awareness. Answers are inherent in the questions. You come to trust that you have the answers.

As an elite athlete, you need to stay balanced in the face of constant change, so give yourself space. A musician understands that the space between the notes gives music its power and makes it effective. As an athlete, giving your body the space to rest and refresh itself will increase your capacity to move with power and efficiency on the field. You will then trust that the right move is inherent in the action that’s called for. When you give your mind space to be quiet, you will make decisions that are purposeful and empowered. When you make space to reflect and consider the challenges you face, you will come to trust that you have the answers. Your enthusiasm will increase as you come into balance, making way for guidance from the highly effective guidance system that is inside you. This skill of balance—in other words, of trusting yourself—is an invaluable key to success in sports!

Kamala Nellen is a sports performance enhancement coach in Ventura County, CA, with 40 years experience using time proven tools that dramatically improve sports performance. Contact Kamala Nellen at www.kamalanellen.com to learn the skill of balance. Get Kamala Nellen’s book on Amazon: Working IN: The Elite Athlete’s Guide to Working Out from the Inside.

Kamala Nellen. Coaching for Champions. Copyright 2017. All rights reserved.

Spring Training: Avoiding The DL

Kamala Nellen Baseball 2

It’s almost time for pitchers and catchers to report to spring training. Last year during a spring training game broadcast, an announcer mentioned that a number of athletes were injured or otherwise struggling to get back in the game—even at this early stage of competition! I was amazed. I’d thought today’s athletes were better prepared for competitive performance than ever before. Yet this announcer indicated there were a lot of athletes on the disabled list.

I had to wonder, Why are these top level professional athletes getting injured, struggling to get back in the game at the beginning of a season? What had these ballplayers done to prepare their bodies before the season? What are they doing now to stay performance-ready on game days?

And let me put a question directly to you: How is your performance preparation serving you?

At the highest levels of competition, it is your responsibility to take stock of your daily training regimen, your daily workouts. Just like the training itself is daily, you need to take stock daily. Are you paying attention to what your body is asking for? Are you addressing what it’s asking you to address? In my experience, the body is wise; it’s absolutely sagacious. If you choose to ignore a hamstring that is making itself known or an ache in your right elbow, once the season starts, you’re likely to be dealing with nagging aches and pains! Wouldn’t you rather focus on the joy of playing the game!

As you assess your workouts and performance preparation, here are some questions you can ask yourself:

What am I doing in pre-game preparation that’s allowing me to perform at my best?

Am I bored with my daily conditioning regimen or pre-game warm-ups? If I am bored, why?

Am I fully present and focused as I execute my drills, or is my head somewhere else?

What is something my body is asking from me that I’m not paying attention to?

It’s vital that you listen to your body, that you pay attention to what it is telling you. You alone are responsible to care for yourself and ask for the help you need, so you avoid the dreaded DL. Notice your mindset while you’re warming up for a game. Could you change the way you approach a particular exercise? You might spend one workout focusing on more careful execution. You might consider spending one workout on slower and more fluid motions. Maybe your body is telling you to skip an exercise one day because that part of your body is fatigued or strained. Rather than doing the exercise half-heartedly, leave it out for today. Pay attention to your own wisdom as you prepare your body for the game in front of you so that you feel truly primed and ready.

Kamala Nellen is a sports performance coach and author of the book, Working IN; The Elite Athlete’s Guide to Working Out from the Inside. Nellen targets solutions to physical and mental issues that impact sports performance and offers practices to keep athletes durable and increase forward momentum. To request a complimentary consultation, click here.

Kamala Nellen. Coaching for Champions. Copyright 2017. All rights reserved.

How Can A Baseball Player Stay Focused When Under Stress?

Kamala Nellen Baseball

How can a baseball player stay focused when I’m under stress?

by Kamala Nellen

Every professional baseball player has to ask himself one critical question: How can I stay focused when I’m under stress? This is a pivotal issue for you as you move into the 2017 MLB season. You may be strong and fast. Your skills may be solid. But—heads up!—you are about to go to another level. Major League Baseball is where the men are separated from the boys. If you cannot maintain your focus when you’re stressed, both on and off the field, you will be gone before the dust settles from your first season.

Of course it’s true on the field. You have to play the game with heart, passion, chemistry—and strained knees and rotator cuffs! To prevent injuries and stay in shape for training camp, you have to work out every day of the year. Whether between games or during a game, you have lots of time to think, and you need to be able to strategize effectively while you wait. If you fall behind, you lose your spot on the depth chart. As one scout shared with me, “Tons of guys never recover once they get behind in performance readiness; you never see them again.” You have to be motivated to improve each week during the season and to improve every season. To be the best at this level, you have to work hard, train hard, study hard. There is NO break.

And off the field, the media will make sure millions of people watch your every move. You are living in a glass house. The bars you go to after a game for a drink, the women you date, the high-profile events you go to—everywhere, eyes will be on you. People will pull you in many directions. You will have demands from your sponsors, from your family. You have to watch for the drug dealers, the bounty hunters, the sharks. You can get into trouble and ruin your career in just seconds.

To handle this level of stress, it is not enough to work out. For sustained peak performance, you have to also work IN. Working in means working on the mind.

When I prepare champion athletes for competitive performance, one of the main areas I focus on is taking care of the mind. When your mind is in optimal condition, your power of focus is increased. You can focus in the moment on the field. You are able to recuperate fast between games; you learn how to recharge your body and your mind. After a one-hour session with me, a college softball player who had dragged herself in the door said she felt like she’d slept for eight hours. She’d been under-the-gun from a long day of practice and study, and now she was smiling and relaxed. After one hour of Working IN, she was ready to perform at her highest level.

Working IN is about self-study, self-correction, self-management, and learning to think on your feet with absolute clarity. When you are fully present, you become aware of what you need. Then, with skill and confidence, you can take care of what needs to be addressed. You are in alignment with yourself, in command of yourself, and you can manage the most challenging situations effectively. This kind of relaxed focus leads to outstanding performance AND durability.

With these time-proven practices and techniques, I have given my clients immediate and truly astounding results.

If you want to stay focused during stressful events, to sustain steady performance levels, and to keep your hard-earned contract, call me, Kamala Nellen, so that you, too, can learn to Work IN.

Kamala Nellen is a sports performance enhancement coach and author of the book, Working IN; The Elite Athlete’s Guide to Working Out from the Inside. Nellen assists elite athletes with mental and physical tools to optimize performance and stay durable. To request information or sign up for a complimentary session visit coachingforchampionsLLC.com.

Kamala Nellen, Coaching for Champions, The Art and Science of Working IN for Champion Performance™, Copyright 2017 All rights reserved.

Feeling Anxious About 2017? Here Is A Simple Exercise From Kamala Nellen You Can Use To Alleviate Anxiety And Tension.

Feeling anxious about 2017? You are not alone. Our country is about to enter a period in which everything that was in place may be substantially changed. Everyone seems to have asked for change, yet no one is certain how the coming change will impact our lives. Some are fearful, others are excited, and many are experiencing varying degrees of those emotions when thinking about possible scenarios for 2017. Change often brings feelings of anxiety and tension because there is a lack of predictability.

The good thing is that you have the power to choose how you respond to change. Why not choose a focus that supports you to feel calm and steady. One way to do this is to focus on what you prefer to experience. Relaxation is a state of being free of anxiety and tension. Everyone needs relaxation. When you give yourself time to relax, you allow body and mind to be rejuvenated. Relaxation leads to renewed energy, creativity and enthusiasm.

You may think that to relax, it will be necessary to spend money on a trip, a spa, or some other purchase. The truth is, achieving a state of relaxation is available to you at no cost; relaxation is a state you create from the inside out, with the simple practice of focus.

Here is the exercise:

Close your eyes. Watch the natural rhythm of your breath. Repeat the word relaxation silently to yourself. Allow the sound of the word to sink into your awareness. What does the word mean to you? Recall a time when you felt relaxed. As the memory becomes more detailed in your awareness, notice what happens to your body and breathing. Savor relaxation long enough to fully experience the sensations this focus brings. As your attention rests in this quiet contemplation, the physiological functions of the body also return to a more natural, optimal functioning.

At any point in the day, take 5-20 minutes out to focus on relaxation. You may decide to make relaxation a backdrop focus for your day. Notice how this focus affects your attitude, your relationships and your productivity.

You are in charge of deciding what thoughts or news you allow to affect your state of mind. You have a choice about where you put your attention. You can choose to close the door of your mind to outside stimulation for a few minutes and enter your own sacred, inner chamber, where you can refresh yourself. And remember this: Nothing can affect your state of mind unless you give it license to do so. Claim your inner sovereignty. Shift your focus to what you want to experience.

Wishing you a year ahead that is both productive and peaceful.

©Kamala Nellen 2016. All rights reserved.

Optimize Sports Performance Using The Right Prescription Of Yoga

Yoga Tips

You may think of yoga as an exercise program to get flexible and fit, or to relieve stress. Yes, yoga can certainly provide those results. However, yoga is also an art—a skill gained through practice. Yoga is also a science—a systemized body of knowledge. Yoga teaches skills in life that lead to lasting happiness. This understanding has unfolded for me over forty years, with commitment and steady practice under the careful guidance of my teachers. Because yoga has carried me through difficult challenges in my life, as well as providing physical and mental benefit, yoga has become my anchor and my inspiration, my path and my goal.

The beauty of yoga is that it works and has worked for thousands of years. The time-proven body of knowledge offered by this ancient science and art has been documented and explained by a number of authors over a vast period of time. Even today, yoga has been adapted to help people from many walks of life and in many situations. Some use yoga practices to balance the body and mind. Others use them to heal from injury, stress, or illness. For some, the use of these practices ultimately transforms their lives. Yoga just plain works!

Careful research has shown that performance-enhancing drugs and steroids compromise both body and mind. Karl Mecklenburg, who played professionally in the NFL for twelve years, once told me that no matter how strong or outstanding a player looked on the field, he could always tell when that athlete was using drugs. He said their reaction time was inevitably a little slower and they were never as sharp as those relying on their own abilities. My hope in offering the Art and Science of Working IN for Champion Sports Performance™ is that, if you are equipped with simple practices and techniques from yoga, you will not experience the need for performance-enhancing drugs, steroids or recreational substances to help you navigate the challenging world of elite sports. It is my absolute conviction that a regular yoga program that includes the right prescription of postures, breathing practices, self-study, and meditation, will measurably increase sports performance and give you highly effective tools to manage your life.

This book focuses on seven stories which illustrate mental challenges faced by specific athletes who worked with Kamala Nellen. Included with each story is a classical yoga tool (or tools), or an adaptation of a tool(s), which was used to effectively address the specified challenge.

To read more, purchase Working IN; The Elite Athletes Guide to Working Out from the Inside. You can also sign up for a complimentary consultation and start taking your performance from great to outstanding; email coachingforchampions at gmail.

copyright 2016, Kamala Nellen, Coaching for Champions. All rights reserved.

A Baseball Player Asked For Simple Yoga Practices

Yoga Tips 2

Kamala Nellen, professional performance enhancement specialist in the Greater Los Angeles, CA area, says athletes can get into the Performance Zone using tools from yoga.

A professional baseball player asked me, “Without undertaking a whole yoga program, are there two or three exercises a day for 15 minutes I could do that would keep me more agile?”

First, thank you for your question. There are many ways you the elite baseball player can use yoga to increase your ability to sustain peak performance. What I love about yoga is that it is a means to connect the body and the mind and bring both into readiness for champion performance.

When you are an elite baseball player, where going from stasis to stellar performance in the flash of an instant is crucial, you can benefit by being able to access an unfettered state of being. Using tools from the science of yoga in the right way, at the right time, is invaluable for peak performance.

I want to start with this practice because as you balance the body and mind, you will be more agile in the field!

Exercise: Harness your breath to release fatigue and tension. Do this practice with your body in a stable, comfortable position; sit with support behind your back or lie on your back. Close your eyes or relax your gaze. Breathe in deeply through the nose. Let your exhalation be slow and controlled. Do this several times until you have a long, slow, comfortable rhythm going. Now, when you exhale slowly, focus into any area of your body or mind where you are feeling tension or stress, whether a tight band of muscles, lactic acid buildup, nerves firing, or mental chatter. Continue as long as you need until you feel that particular area softening. When you feel your body/mind reaching a state of equilibrium, let the breath return to normal and your focus to stay diffused. Staying still for a few minutes after the exercise allows the experience to settle into your being. Give yourself a little time after this exercise before hitting the track.

Which brings me to another point: Pause when you are done with any practice. Then you can shift your focus and be able to send it where you want it next.

Wishing you a no-hitter!

Kamala Nellen. Coaching for Champions LLC. Copyright 2014. All rights reserved.

A Unique View of Diet For Peak Sports Performance

Yoga Tips 3

5 Things that will increase your sport performance:

You may work out and train for health, or to be the best in what you do. In both cases, your body and mind have to be in prime condition to feel great. There is a lot of good information available on diet and nutrition. The ancient science of yoga is truly a science for optimum health. Here are five pieces of wisdom.

Read more of this article by Kamala Nellen at http://bit.ly/U7K9wN