About heymitz

Lisa Mitzel is the Author-Illustrator of two books. Her newest, 2018, "Focused and Inspired: Keeping Our Athletes Safe in a Win-at-All-Costs World" and revised 2018 "Focused and On Fire: The Athlete's Guide to Mental Training & Kicking Butt." She's an educator in sports, currently touring and giving talks and clinics internationally. She's an NCAA 6-Time All-American, NCAA National Champion, and member of four NCAA National Championship teams for the University of Utah. Former Head Coach, Women's gymnastics team, Stanford University, top 10 team at NCAA National Championships. Understands athletes' struggles, how to manifest success, coach-athlete dynamics, psychological blocks and setbacks, and emotional intelligence as a vehicle for safety. Lisa teaches methods to create positive mindsets, self-esteem, the habit of performing well, and increase personal safety in sports. Follow her on IG #mitzel_coach , FB, and Twitter.

Injuries – they suck, so why the hell am I doing this?

It’s truer than true – injuries suck! So why the hell are you playing sports? Or better, why the hell did I?  Multiple sprained ankles, fractured tibiae, dislocated shoulder, concussion, torn lateral meniscus, 3 knee surgeries, and a broken back. I know the pain. Sitting out. Rehab instead of practice. The worst part, some injuries hurt so bad you wish you could jump out of your skin to escape the pain. But after the torment, there is another side, a GOOD side, a pure Champion-in-the-making side. And that the champion I wanted to be — is why I played. 

I enrolled in “Injury 101” when I crashed in gymnastics, age nine. It was the balance beam — 4 inches wide, 4 feet high. My coach said, “Leaps!” So I did: step, step, leap. Not great. “Higher!” she called out. So I tried harder. Leap! And another – Leap! But she yelled, “Higher, Lisa, split more!” Good grief, it wasn’t good enough. I wanted to be the best. So I went STEP-STEP-LEEEAAAAP! flying into the air as high as the sky! But my landing foot missed, my legs stayed split apart, and as I fell, the hard wooden beam whacked me up the middle — killed my girl parts.

I was on the ground, desperate pain, coach yelled, “Ice! Get her some ice!” When the frozen bag arrived, I would not put it on me – not there. People were looking. Slowly, s-l-o-w-l-y I got up. Tears rolled down my cheeks. I winced. Hobbled into the bathroom with ice in hand. When I peeled down my leotard near the toilet, I was afraid to go to the bathroom. Would it hurt? Then, I looked down and saw spots of blood. What! I panicked. Did I start my period? I can’t see. Did I damage myself? Will I ever have a baby!

I shook it off. I convinced myself I would be okay, I would survive. The rest of practice, I sat sort of sideways on a mat. My dad came to pick me up… I walked slowly to the car. “How was practice?” he asked. “Okay…” I lied. I decided he didn’t need to know I hurt my…you know.

INJURY 101

1) Getting hurt is part of sports. To continually improve your performance, you must get out of your comfort zone and push yourself. Don’t be surprised when you fall, crash, get jabbed or hit. Shake it off and chin up. If you never get hurt, you are either protected by the gods, or you could push yourself harder. Many times, one can push harder.

2) It’s humbling to get hurt in front of others (especially in your private area), and especially if you want to be tough. But you are not superhuman. Apparently, I am not either. But humility allows others to help you. Help each other. A close team is a great team.

3) It is very important to be focused on the skill, first. Just before I got hurt, I was not thinking about the skill, I was thinking about being the best and pleasing my coach. I was distracted. Stay focused on the skill.

4) One good thing, I was aggressive. Even though I got hurt, Aggressiveness = Power. It sparks you to improve, it raises the efforts of your teammates, and makes you fight for what you want. Fight, fight, fight!

5) A serious injury makes you slow down. Take time off, see a doctor, do rehab. But the fact is – Off time is an opportunity in disguise. There are other ways to practice and you WILL improve – stretching, conditioning, mental practice, and supporting your teammates. OFF-time can be an Advantage!

6) Healing injuries and substitute workouts require effort. Don’t just sit – be pro-active. Talk to your coach. Eat right. Think positive. Heal yourself, typically with ice. Still workout – just other ways. Hey, if you can’t go through it, GO AROUND IT.

TJ Green Juice7) After recovery, you are forced to re-think. Break down the skill parts and make sure technique is planned. Before attempting a leap at the next practice, I made sure I knew the exact position I wanted my arms, hands, legs, and feet, and how to land safely. Seek ‘accuracy’ and you become a Mindful Athlete now, you have a competitive EDGE.

(from the Mitzel files…age 11, I kept fighting, how about you?)

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Reach, sweat, and believe,

~mitz

My TED Talk – Vulnerability, the power in sports

So I’m writing my TED talk. Well, it’s in my head. And it’s all because my friend, Julia Zanutta, told me that in addition to this blog, and writing a sports book, JULIA SAYS: “You’re going to get speaking engagements, you’ll need somewhere to provide booking information and links to Amazon for your book and a link to your TED talk.”

(Wha…? TED? lol…  Then, I stopped. Hmm, I thought, maybe…I guess it’s possible). “You have a point,” I said, “TED is in my future.” And I briefly rambled – Couldn’t I do all that booking and linking on my Blog site…?

Vulnerability. Julia also told me about incredible TED talks by researcher, Brene Brown. Vulnerability and Shame are amazing. And after watching Brene and hearing her message, it got me thinking how us athletes and coaches have such a hard heel dug into “don’t be vulnerable” and “never be weak,” because, hey, it’s sports and you have to be tough and tougher to fight hard and win, never be weak, never give up, just go, go, go. Got it?

But at times, athletes are vulnerable. Don’t fight it. That’s when you are most brave and connect with others. If you suppress emotion too much, you create obstacles and inner stress. It is suppression that stops us, keeps us disconnected, untrustworthy, and even powerless. In human nature, it’s our core desire to express – shout when you’re happy, cry when you’re sad. Right? So we need to connect. Through personal exposure and shared empathy, you can become a vessel of truth and power. If you struggle while avoiding vulnerability, you are only defeating yourself. You are not perfect. No one is. And it’s all a *big show* if you always fake it (faker faker). So think: You can’t know or learn about your teammates OR yourself if you keep faking, always hiding your pain. It’s not real. And the best athletes in the world, like Venus Williams, who are tough, face challenges, yet openly share vulnerabilities – THEY ARE REAL AND BRAVE – and that’s why we want to be like them.

So Talk. You don’t have to do a TED talk. Just talk to your mom, dad, sister, brother, friend. What are you feeling, thinking? Maybe, just maybe, your coach or teammates will understand. Maybe they will help you. Maybe, a teammate will say, “Yeah, me, too.” But I guarantee, you will feel brave to speak honestly and relieved to open up. And, you will find others who feel the same way. In becoming vulnerable with your teammates, you will automatically start to lean on one other, then support each other, and push each other to overcome the toughest moments. Through all of this you will become closer. Together you will feel powerful, and possibly, invincible, and when you do, you will rise and soar higher and higher, reaching the most amazing heights–together.

And that, my friend, is the power in sports.

Now, back to writing.  TED may be calling.

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Hannah, Annalisa, and my daughter, McKenna winning Regional Basketball Championship. The girls talked, became a close team, and went on to win the National title.

Reach, sweat, and believe.

~mitz

Plan your success – be the smart athlete

Aside

“Hello and Welcome!” This site is dedicated to you, every female athlete in every sport. And I’m going to give you my guts: straight-up advice, personal grief, snappy, funny stories, and invaluable insight from my experience [as an athlete and college coach], and wisdom from leaders in the sports world. Hope you like it!

First, Plan Your Success: When you’re reaching for the top, you can not give up easily. Look at Diana Nyad swimming to Cuba, or the USA Oracle team winning America’s Cup (down by 7 races and won the next 8 in a row). These athletes are smart, determined, and surround themselves with supportive people.

So engage your mind. Be the smart athlete. Surround yourself with great influences and positive people (a coach, parent, teacher, doctor, teammate, etc). People who keep you on track; awesome people who encourage and push you. Recruit your own ‘champions‘ as supporters and guides. And become a champion for yourself.

Sheila: My older sister, Sheila, is one of my champions. From the time we were small, she was fiercely determined. Such a role model for me (except when she wanted to play Barbies, blech). Last March, Sheila ran the L.A. marathon in 3:32 hrs, an 8 min-mile average! Wahoo! Now, she’s fighting back after a TBI. But she’s tough. If anyone can do it, she can. You always make me want to be better, Sheila. I love you!

LM sis Sheil

Sheila trying to be taller than me. haha

Sheila running FAST

S kicking major butt

Here is your Action Item #1:

Identify your best supporters – your ‘champions‘ – write down their names, great things they say, get pictures to enjoy, talk and listen to them regularly. Remember–Smart Athletes surround themselves with powerful and positive influences. You can do it!

Reach, sweat, and believe.

~mitz