Amanda Stanec provides parents, coaches, educators, and athletes with three things to consider BEFORE setting goals, as well as strategies for setting and reviewing goals throughout the season.
Learn more about Amanda Stanec.
Kara Winger: Hey, I’m Kara Winger, your TrueSport Expert Series 2022 host here with Amanda Stanec. And we are going to talk about the three things that athletes need to do before setting goals.
Amanda Stanec: Yes. Thanks, Kara. I suggest three things athletes do before they set goals is reflect deeply, identify their strengths, and also their areas for opportunity. And in doing that, we understand our strengths. We understand our limits. And we can then approach things with some vulnerability and some humility and really work to improve in the areas that we need to improve on.
Kara Winger: Very cool. So, the social and emotional learning, the self-awareness piece of it, I have friends that can’t be quiet. Like I know that that’s like a part of being self-aware is that you have to have this time to really deeply reflect on what’s going on in your own heart. Right? And, you know, it takes adults a long time to get to that place sometimes. So, how can kids do that? How can parents and guardians and coaches help kids kind of develop that skill to become self-aware?
Amanda Stanec: That’s a great question. I think the best thing we can do as adults is to model it and to be humble and vulnerable enough to share those experiences with the youth that we’re serving. So, you know, and to make space and time for them to do it. So, today we’re going to pause and reflect and we’re going to identify your strengths and also the areas we want to improve on. And I’m going to do it, too as your coach. While you’re reflecting on your ability as a teammate or your ability in your technical or tactical skills, I’m going to be reflecting on my strengths as a coach and identify areas that I can improve on upon as your coach, and I’m going to share those with you. So, one I’ve created and given them time to do it. And two, I’m going to model it. And by doing that, I’m kind of being brave. Like I’m showing them, hey, I’m not perfect. I’m 45 years old and still developing and still working to improve. And so it just normalizes that and it takes this fear away from them that they have to be perfect because no one’s perfect.
Kara Winger: Right, or entertained all the time too, right? Like in this age of social media and of just constant input, it takes a lot to just be still and think about where you’re at so that you can then think about where you’re going.
Amanda Stanec: Absolutely. And if again, if we don’t give them the space to practice it, it will just continue to feel more challenging as they get older.
Kara Winger: Right. I like to write, so that’s maybe unique to me and not applicable to everyone else. But the free writing part of preparing to like get something out of me has become really important to me. So, like set a timer and just write the whole time. No music, no anything. Just like whatever comes out onto the paper is what my feelings are and it’s really helpful for me to organize my thoughts.
Amanda Stanec: That’s awesome. So, do you do that just with sport or just in general? -Both. – Oh, that’s awesome.
Kara Winger: Yeah. Yeah. Really fun.
Amanda Stanec: That would be another great activity for coaches to do. And then also this home link. So, if you are taking time during practice or asking the children to reflect and think about their strengths and their areas to grow, let the parents and the guardians know. Let them know that you did this. Invite them to do it, too. How can they reflect on their actions as a sport parent? Where are they really strong in supporting their child? Where are their areas for improvement? And then again, inviting them to share that with the kids. So as adults, we have to model this humility if we want the kids to be able to not feel entitled and that they have to be perfect all the time.
Kara Winger: Yeah. And that’s your social link at home, too, right? That being vulnerable enough as a parent to say to your child, I care about how you’re doing, please share with me and I want to do even better in supporting you in your goals. I love that you brought that up, the social link, and as far as being a good teammate and having that be a part of your goals, not just athletically but socially. For me, I played sports to make friends. I grew up a lot of different places. We moved a lot when I was little, so I wasn’t necessarily the best athlete, but I was pretty shy.
Amanda Stanec: Whoa, whoa, whoa.You’re a four-time Olympian.
Kara Winger: Amanda, one time I gave myself a concussion throwing the javelin. That’s how clumsy I am.
Amanda Stanec: I’m not even laughing. I was just like.
Kara Winger: Very mild. I treated it with respect and fully recovered. But I literally tripped and hit my head on the ground. Oh, my gosh. Yeah. Hilarious. Not hilarious. Like I got to be on NBC Nightly News about it.
Amanda Stanec: You know what? I think a lot of us in this room would give ourselves a concussion thing to throw a javelin if we were completely honest, Kara.
Kara Winger: So, growing up, like I had all the heart, right? I didn’t necessarily have the skill, but I was also shy and I didn’t know how to talk. I knew how to play with, like, friends on the field. And so that’s where I made my friends. And that was truly my original goal. Like, I was always the new kid, so I wanted to make friends the only way I knew how is like in a sport. And without really meaning to that has become what is the most important part of my career. I started playing sports to make friends as a little kid. Twenty years later, my friends in Tokyo elected me closing ceremonies flagbearer. I had all of this disappointment in my own Olympic career and what I said to the track and field team before we got on the bus to go to the closing ceremonies was in my disappointment, it’s been an honor to be part of your success. And I’ve only ever in my life had one other experience where my jaw just locked up, like instantly crying, so much emotion, because it was so important to me to tell these people that they had made my life to that point. Thank you so much. And I couldn’t get more words out than just a couple sentences because the emotion was so strong. So, I absolutely relate to the fear of speaking in front of your peers, but want to make sure that people understand that overcoming that fear can bring you together so closely and so powerfully and in such an unforgettable way. So, it’s still okay for it to be scary. Encourage you to overcome those fears.
Amanda Stanec: That’s so beautiful. And I’m sure they received it with so much love. Right? And that’s the other piece you know, providing you obviously, they knew you were worthy of being the flagbearer, which is such an incredible honor that they watched you and you did succeed. You may not think you succeeded, but to everybody else in the world, you were so successful and then you had the courage because you knew they would show you love. And I think we need to teach kids that at a young age that they don’t all have to be loud and outgoing. It’s okay if some kids are loud and outgoing, right? But you don’t have to be because the world isn’t filled with everyone who’s the same. And we should celebrate the kids with their different strengths and their areas for growth, and understand and accepting that can really contribute to this positive teen culture like you experienced.
Kara Winger: So powerful. And so I have never been the loud one. I love those people, I have many friends that are absolutely the center of attention in every room. But for people that I didn’t know were seeing me to let me know that they saw me in that way was such an honor. Wild. And I have to tell them that I feel that way because that just enriches the entire experience for everybody.
Amanda Stanec: Wow, that’s such a win. I mean, that is an Olympic moment, Kara.
Kara Winger: Yes, wild. I will never not cry about it. And sometimes, like, I think this social goal is such an interesting one because when you talk about smart goals like that isn’t necessarily measurable. Right? But it’s such an important piece of the mental health journey of an athlete to be connected to people that you’re around. And when you talk about the COVID era as well, it was such a powerful thing for me in Tokyo. My husband travels a lot. I was home recovering from an injury pretty much by myself for a year and a half. And getting to Tokyo, not being able to go anywhere, but being around all of these people that both like everybody, you could just tell, we were all thinking, oh my gosh, we actually made it here. And all we can do is spend time together because that’s all we’re allowed to do, but that’s perfect for right now because we all know exactly what we’ve been through and we get to be there together. Like, this is such a unique, like COVID postponement experience to go through together because we’re the only people in the world who know exactly what that feels like. But at your high school, at your middle school, like you’re the only kids who know exactly what that experience is like, too. So, on a micro level, it’s exactly the same.
Amanda Stanec: Yeah. And we have to pivot, right? Smart goals are great, but we have to acknowledge the context that’s around us. And if we don’t pivot and have kids look at goals in other areas and still focused as though there’s no pandemic, we’re not best serving kids. And then there’s of course, the follow up with goal setting, which I don’t know how many times you went through a goal setting session, maybe not you at the elite level, but as a youth where there was no follow up. I mean, how many crumpled pieces of paper have I found in my kid’s backpack? There’s like this great goal setting session.
Kara Winger: At the end of the season.
Amanda Stanec: Yeah, that’s like or never or is never followed up. So, I really endorse goal setting in a variety of ways. So, not just physical but also again with the social being a good teammate, these types of things, maybe it’s sleep, maybe it’s hydration, you know, whatever it might be. And then this follow up throughout the season. So just like little check-ins with the kids and then of course at the end to evaluate where they are with their goals. And some are measurable. I mean, how many times for socially did you reach out, yes or no? Did you reach out to people that you know feel extra shy in the group? How did you reach out to them? You know, and so you can quantify and measure some of these things if you break them down more specifically.
Kara Winger: Very cool. That’s a great point. Yeah. Noticing like a little bit of extra effort that the shy team may put in on the baseline and telling them that, like I said, overcoming that fear of speaking in front of your peers to say, I see you. I see your effort.
Amanda Stanec: Exactly. How about you, Kara? How did it switch for you? Goal setting. You know, when you’re eight years old versus 12 years old versus trying to go to one, two, three, or four Olympic Games?
Kara Winger: Well, in my professional career, unfortunately, the big giant goals I had really got demolished by injury. And one of the things that was really hard kind of to look at in the lead up to Tokyo is in that second ACL injury. I didn’t have time to look at the big picture. I had to just take it day by day for really survival mode. Like I didn’t not have time. I had too little time to really allow myself to look forward, like I had to take it day by day to stay kind of sane and in the process and recognize those little victories. So, that’s what I’ve gotten really good at in my professional career, is the little daily victories, even when it doesn’t look from the outside like a practice was a success. I’ve had to figure out how to get success out of that to keep going in injury.
Amanda Stanec: I love that. When COVID first hit and kids were doing virtual school, one of them was in grade two at the time, and her teachers like, we’re going to count all our little wins every day. We’re going to write them down and you’re all going to put them in a jar. And we’re all going to look at that jar every day and count all our wins. And I feel like it was just a great way to teach a very young child what you were doing as an elite athlete. Which is amazing.
Kara Winger: Thanks. And the really sad part of that for me personally has been that I kind of had to throw those big giant goals out the window because I was forced to focus on the biggest problem here and now. Growing up, I played all the sports that I possibly could and I definitely had like a big basketball team, like state championship goals and all that stuff. But I don’t think I had a really good handle on the incremental ways that I could get to the places I wanted to go. And for me, that’s really where individual sport came in, that I could maybe not conceptualize all the little steps that I was taking, but I could feel each day like little improvements in what I was doing. So I think, yeah, once I had a taste of natural talent in the javelin, I could really be like, I want to do that again, win the state championship and had an eye on what distances were that could maybe get me to college and then what conference was and what regionals and NCAA championships and just those like in the same way that daily victories and little incremental goals work for you in a season. Those like chunks of an entire long career are a really similar thing on a macro level. But yeah, controlling that was much more natural for me in the javelin than other sports.
Amanda Stanec: Well, it was javelin too. You know, you’re looking at a distance and then you’re trying to target the next distance and the next distance. Team sport, it’s a little more challenging, right? Because you can only control what you can control. So, you knew what a reasonable, measurable, attainable goal was for you in javelin with these distances. In some team sports, like when you were playing basketball, it’s challenging to have a personal goal to win the state title because you can’t control what your teammates are doing. You can’t control what the other team is doing. So, counting those daily wins actually is what is really suggested for a lot of team sport athletes along the way.
Kara Winger: There you go. Yeah. Nice. Is there anything else after you set a goal that you should be doing?
Amanda Stanec: Just really reflecting and monitoring your progress, checking in to see, okay, if I’m not making progress, what do I need to adjust and just revisiting it. Maybe you need to change it. Maybe you need to talk to your coach about it, but just making sure that the goal setting session isn’t the end of thinking about your goals.
Kara Winger: I love that. Yeah. And to have a leader on a team socially who can have that in mind, maybe after like the first season of having a coach that will let them check in and make them check in with those goals that they’ve set at the beginning, modeling that social behavior and having leadership at a peer level that helps you check in with your goals would be really helpful.
Amanda Stanec: Yeah, I’m just thinking that how cool it would be to even celebrate, you know, when we’ve really seen some of these social connection goals come to life throughout the season, which is contributing to this positive teen culture. Just taking a moment to acknowledge that.
Kara Winger: Very cool. Thank you so much for being here. Amanda Stanec, our expert for this episode.
Amanda Stanec: Thanks for having me, Kara.
Kara Winger: I learned so much about goal setting before and after, preparing to set those big goals, and then implementing them as you go. This has been the TrueSport Expert Series for 2022.
Amanda Stanec provides parents, coaches, educators, and athletes with three things to consider BEFORE setting goals, as well as strategies for setting and reviewing goals throughout the season.
Learn more about Amanda Stanec.
Hi. I’m Trevon, Trey, Jennifer. Team USA wheelchair basketball player, paralympian, and true sport athlete. Today, I want to talk to you about goal setting. And there are three things that I would like you to know. First, successful athletes set goals and a planned roadmap. Second, goals should be written down, assessed over time, and changed if necessary. And third, goals need to be challenging in order to be worthwhile. As a freshmen at Edinboro University, I was a part of a team that made the national championship game. And at that time I recognized I was the low man on the totem pole, but I felt in my heart that I knew my dreams were so much bigger than winning a national title. I wanted to make Team USA. I knew what achieving my lofty goal was not going to be easy and that I would need to work hard every day.
So, as a reminder, I created a pyramid of goals that I kept right above my bed. This pyramid reminded me of the accomplishments that I was working towards and visually represented my need to create a solid foundation underneath me before reaching the top. In the bottom roll of my pyramid of goals I listed goals such as obtaining my bachelor’s degree, becoming a scholar athlete award recipient, and becoming an All-American. The middle row listed winning a national title and playing for a professional team. And at the top row, the most challenging of them all, I listed becoming a gold medalist for Team USA.
By understanding that there are smaller stepping stones to achieving my ultimate goal of being on Team USA, I was able to stay motivated and to stay focused on completing the smaller stepping stones fully before moving onto the next one. Now I’ll be the first to admit that not every goal that I listed on my pyramid was accomplished, but seeing my goals every day when I went to bed, I was able to push through the days that I felt like doing nothing in hopes of achieving the bigger picture. Remember, create a clear goal roadmap, assess your goals often, and continue to challenge yourself. I hope that you never stopped dreaming big or reaching for the stars. And I look forward to seeing where your roadmap takes you.
Hi, I’m Kara Winger, Olympic javelin thrower, and true sport athlete. Today I want to talk to you about body image and I have three things I’d like you to know. First, healthy thoughts often lead to healthier bodies. Second, there are varying body types and no one’s body is exactly like another. And third, true beauty goes deeper than the skin. As a multi-time Olympian, I’ve experienced a lot of variation and progression in my training. My coaches and I adapt to my training frequently, all with the goal of supporting my long-term success and health in the sport of javelin. I’m talking to you about body image today because sometimes even with the best of intentions and a common goal in mind, the changes you make to your training habits can prove to be detrimental if made for the wrong reasons. In the lead up to the 2012 Olympic trials, I was told in order to improve my performance on the field, I should try to become a leaner, skinnier version of myself.
So I changed my diet. I went along with what I was being told to do, even though I’d had great success at a slightly heavier weight and higher body fat percentage, and became much leaner than ever before. It seemed like a successful change at first, but I didn’t have nearly the results I’d had before. And I believe becoming leaner than my body naturally wanted to be was what caused my ACL to tear. In the end, it cost me heavily going into the 2012 London games. The takeaway for me, and hopefully for you, is that it’s important to know what works for you and your body and to not compare yourself to others. You should do your research and experiment with your diet to find what makes you feel the best, rather than focusing on what you look like. Today, if I feel like having a chocolate chip cookie, I have one, just not every day.
I’ve learned what a properly balanced meal for my body looks like and I recognize food as the fuel that keeps me throwing. I hydrate and allow myself time to recover. And I listen to and communicate with my body so that I can be the best version of myself. In the end, you are in control of how you see, treat, and respond to your body. We only get one and it’s amazing to discover how many things our bodies can do. Be a true sport athlete. Love who you are in this moment and get excited for all the places your body will take you.
Hi, I’m Izy Isaksen, Team USA, Modern Pentathlon, Olympian, US Army Sergeant, and True Sport Ambassador. Today, I want to talk to you about being a good sport. There are three things I’d like you to know. First, real winners act the same toward their opponent, whether they win or lose. Second, follow the rules and be a gracious winner and respectful loser. And third, sportsmanship reveals your true character.
I started competing in Modern Pentathlon eight years after my older sister and three-time Olympian, Margaux Isaksen, began competing. I soon realized that people often compared the two of us. I would overhear spectators and teammates asking, “Who’s the better athlete,” and “Who’s going to beat the other.” Instead of letting outside pressures create a negative experience for us, I chose to practice winning and losing with grace and respect. I know that it would have been easy to let our hyper competitive mindset affect our relationship, but instead we decided to support and cheer for each other, regardless of our own performance. My experience of competing against and being compared to my older sister, taught me to focus on how to perform at my best, rather than putting wasted energy into wishing for others to fail.
I believe that sportsmanship reveals true character. So, no matter what situation I encounter during competition, I know it’s important to always treat people with respect and be a good sport. Remember, be a fierce competitor, find grace in all your victories and losses. And I hope to see you out there.
Edwin Moses: You’re a coach. Maybe what you want is very simple, for everyone to just run in the right direction, score for their own team, to try and try again and again. Maybe you want your athletes to become all stars. You want them to earn trophies, medals, win titles. You want them to reach the highest height their sport allows. And wanting all of that, of course, that’s good. But as every great coach discovers, developing a great athlete means nurturing, nurturing the even greater person within. Truth is, you have even more influence than you know.
You have the ability to affect even deeper change, to take what’s in your hands and do something even more extraordinary. You can be both the coach who provides the skills needed to win the game and the coach who helps them learn and succeed beyond the sport, to become all stars wherever they land in the future, and to enjoy their lives more now, because the confidence and courage they find working with you will stay with them when they need it the most. There are games to be won, lives to change. Coaches have the power to do both.
I’m Edwin Moses, and the lessons I’ve learned through sport have challenged me, guided me, and shaped my life forever. What kind of coach do you want to be?
At first glance, dietary supplements look the same. They seem safe and healthy, but just because the label says a product is a dietary supplement, that doesn’t mean it’s safe. Unfortunately, you can’t tell whether a product is safe or not just by looking at the label. Most vitamins, minerals, fish oil, and other supplements containing nutrients are probably just fine, but supplements are not evaluated or approved by FDA before they are sold. Although it is rare for vitamins or minerals to be contaminated with drugs, there has been at least one case of a vitamin containing an anabolic steroid.
At the other extreme are products that contain drugs, stimulants, anabolic steroids, or other hormones. Even though these are not technically dietary supplements, many of them are labeled as supplements. For example, body-building products sometimes contain anabolic steroids or Selective Androgen Receptor Modulators, known as SARMs, or other hormones. Some pre-workout or energy products contain illegal stimulants like DMAA, ephedra, or other amphetamine-like stimulants. Weight loss products might contain prescription drugs like sibutramine, or hormones, like human chorionic gonadotropin, also known as hCG. All natural or herbal sexual enhancement products might contain hormones or Viagra-like drugs. Products like these can harm your health and career, but they’re for sale online, in some nutrition stores, and they’re labeled as dietary supplements.
When you pick up a supplement, especially one that promises performance enhancement, you don’t know if it belongs in the “Mostly O.K.” pile or in the “Dangerous” pile. After all, two products might look the same, but one might contain just amino acids and other legitimate ingredients, while the other also contains anabolic steroids. Because of this, FDA has issued a warning about certain categories of supplements: body building products, weight loss products, and sexual enhancement products. Be extremely careful when considering a supplement in one of these categories. We strongly recommend that you avoid products in these categories.
Even when FDA tests supplements and finds dangerous ingredients, companies sometimes refuse to recall them. Sometimes, they simply repackage their product and continue selling it under a new name. Just because a product is on a store shelf doesn’t mean it is safe. You need to do your research and be an informed consumer. The dietary supplement industry is enormous. Supplements that appear to be safe could actually be dangerous products in disguise. If you use dietary supplements without doing your research, you may be taking serious risks with your health and your career. Please visit USADA’s Supplement 411 for more information about dietary supplements.