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The Forza Athletics Life & Coaching Podcast
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The Forza Athletics Life & Coaching Podcast

Author: Charles J. Infurna, EdD

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Welcome to The Forza Athletics Life & Coaching Podcast!

The purpose of this podcast will be to interview strength athletes from an array of disciplines to get a closer look at how they prepare for competition, their mindset, routines/rituals, how they got their start in their respective sport, and the work/life/sport balance. This podcast is will give the listener a behind-the-scenes look at how athletes and coaches alike achieved their success, what they did to get there, and how they compete at that level over a period of time.

New episodes drop at 9am EST on Monday mornings.
71 Episodes
Thank you Liz and Sean for asking great questions yesterday that I could answer on today's episode about goal setting.   Liz's question was-What's a process that actually works? SMART seems superficial/not always helpful Sean asked-When looking long term, how many short term goals are necessary to achieve your long term goal I tried my best to answer these two questions by reviewing what the SMART goal template looks like, the process I've incorporated with my collegiate and post-collegiate athletes, how I'm planning my half ironman training, and how focus plays a key factor in achieving your goals. I've written about goal setting before.  You can click the following link to read more about how I've incorporated Lou Holtz's process with my collegiate athletes I've also incorporated Jon Gordon's message about telescopes and microscopes as well.  You can read more about that by clicking here
In this brief episode I ramble about coaching, expectations and professional goals for the upcoming year.  If you haven't had the chance to read Jon Gordon's book One Word, you can purchase his book by clicking this link  You read other articles I've written about being focused by clicking here and here You can learn more about Forza Athletics by visiting Instagram Twitter Use code "throw" to save on my latest book Thrower: Propelling Towards Greatness - 2nd Edition You can purchase the pdf version by clicking here
We began this season by looking at our vision as a coach, why we coach, and how we want to be remembered.  Looking at Episode 3, the focus was on the end of our career's.  In this episode, I wanted to spend some time discussing how to develop your coaching philosophy.  Our philosophy will change a little bit as we move along with our coaching journey, but some of our core values will remain the same. My philosophy is to illuminate a path for my athlete's that helps them achieve their goals.  I'm ashamed to say that it wasn't always as such.  When I first began coaching my philosophy was "coach-centered".  I was more concerned with what my peers would think of me and how far my athletes threw.  That was pretty much it.  As I have traveled along in my coaching journey, I've had a paradigm shift in the way I coach.  My focus is now "athlete-centered".  I provide my athletes a lot of autonomy in regards to their training, goals, meet selection, etc.  When I first began coaching, I didn't feel comfortable with athlete input.  Now I thrive upon learning more about myself as a coach and most importantly what my athletes think and how I can better coach my athletes throughout the course of a season and their careers! What is your coaching philosophy?  Has it changed since you began coaching?  Why or why not?
It probably isn't something we think about often, but do you ever wonder what people will say about you at your 80th birthday party?  Or, has the thought of what will people say about me at my funeral come across your mind?  If you answered no, you are probably in the majority.  I'm not sure how many people think about these two questions on a daily or even regular basis, but I think about it quite often. In one of my doctorate courses we were asked to present our future legacy to the class.  We were instructed to think about the two questions above, and to provide examples of how we think we had left or would leave our legacy.  We had 30 minutes to give our presentation.  It was a surreal presentation to say the least.  My presentation was filled with tears.  Not of sadness, but of joy.  I asked four former athletes to send me a 30 second video explaining to the class the legacy they think I left upon them.  I didn't watch the video's until class that night.  It was a big chance, but I wanted my expression to be genuine.  I think we all do, don't we? My homework for those of you that listened to this episode.  On a 3x5 index card, write down what you think your coaching legacy will be.  Be as detailed as possible.  Second, after you have written down your legacy thoughts, under each one provide an example or two that suggests you might really be left with this legacy.  This is your opportunity to share all the good things you perceive to have done during your time as a coach.  You don't need to show anyone anything, but be honest with yourself.  How do you think people will remember you?  They may forget all about the awards and championships, but I'm positive they won't forget how you made them feel.
In this episode I discuss how I got back into collegiate coaching by becoming the throwing coach of the Alfred State Pioneers.  I also share my thoughts about coaching through restrictions, quarantine, and limited schedules.
Welcome back to another episode of the Forza Athletics Life and Coaching Podcast.  In this week's episode I spend some time providing a recap of our first outdoor meet of the season.  I also spend some time discussing the process of picking events moving forward throughout the remainder of the season.  This past Friday our Alfred State throwers competed in their first meet of the 2020-21 season.  It was also the first time in many years that Alfred State had hosted a meet.  We had great weather, great competition, and exciting performances. The meet began at 3:30pm, and all throwers were given 4 attempts per event.  We just finished up the men’s discus before dusk. The men’s competition started off with the hammer.  Overall, we had our two best performances in the hammer throw.  Freshman Nate Chambers won the competition with a throw of 48.03m.  Directly on his heels was sophomore Dylan Perlino.  Dylan threw 47.88m.  Both of those performances qualify these two athletes for our regional championships in mid-May.  These two performances also rank Nate 3rd and Dylan 4th all-time in the hammer throw at Alfred State.  Also having strong performances were freshmen Joe Hammer, Devin Gross, and Wilfredo Rodriguez.  Joe finished with a personal best of 24.05m, Devin hit 21.51m, and Wilfredo threw 17.90m. After the hammer, we transitioned to the shot-put event on the other side of the track and field complex.  As with the hammer, we had great performances here as well.  Dylan led our group with a toss of 11.17m.  Joe and Nate were right behind with tosses of 10.45m and 10.26m, respectively.  Wilfredo (9.57m), Jamison Pomroy (8.68m), and Devin (8.28m) all had personal marks. Lastly, we wrapped up with the discus portion of the competition.  Beginning right around 6:45pm, we were able to get 44 discus tosses in before dusk.  Dylan led our throwers with a mark of 37.97m.  Nate and Wilfredo were right behind with throws of 36.70m and 26.52m.  Jamison, Joe, and Devin also had solid marks of 25.29m, 24.00m, and 23.99m respectively. We began this spring semester with many unknowns.  We weren’t sure if we would have an indoor season, an outdoor season, or any seasons at all.  Beginning in January, we started having practices 2x per week from 8:30pm-10:30pm.  We made it through those late evening practice sessions and successfully transitioned to outdoor training outdoors.  There are still many unknowns left this season.  What we may have taken for granted in the past with Friday or Saturday track meets may go by the wayside.  We sit on the edge of our seats waiting for correspondence from other coaches and universities with updates about meet schedules, dates, and times.
Welcome back to another edition of the Forza Athletics Life and Coaching Podcast.  In today's episode I share some strategies and tips that coaches and athletes can easily implement that will lead to optimum performances during competition. This will be the first meet my athletes will be competing in about 13 months.  As a coach, I emphasize three different strategies with my athletes as we begin the competitive season. 1. Meet day preparation should mimic practice day preparation; routines and rituals are your friends 2. Don't introduce new technical aspects to your throw; save those for practice 3. Pick one or two technical cues to focus on during the week that will also be emphasized during the competition
In this episode I share some strategies for coaches who are practicing with their athletes later in the evening.  At Alfred State, for the time being we are practicing from 8:30pm-10:30pm three nights per week.  We'll be indoors through February and probably into the middle of March.  Without an indoor season to train for, a lot of our training time is going to be spent focusing on technique and the establishment of a throwing foundation for when we are able to transition outdoors with warmer weather.
One night a week my oldest son plays recreation soccer through our parks and rec department.  The age group he plays with is 7-10.  He is one of the youngest (7) on the team, but physically stands head and shoulders over most of the other kids.  There are two teams of 7 kids and each coach on the indoor field at the same time.  They begin with about 15 minutes of drill work, and then play short games (basically until one team scores).  After a goal the kids take a water break and then continue playing. I enjoy watching my son play soccer for a multitude of reasons.  It gives us a chance to get out of the house together one night a week and talk about how things are going in his 2nd grade world.  I played soccer through high school, so I have a bit of an emotional attachment to the sport and think it’s wonderful that our two oldest enjoy playing it thus far.  Plus, I just enjoy watching him participate in things he enjoys doing.  He asked to play indoor soccer, and is just finishing up his second winter session of the year.  He asked to be signed up for another indoor session which begins in early March. As the teams began playing, it was clearly evident that the other team had a couple of much more gifted soccer players on their team than our team.  If you have ever watched 7 and 8 year olds play indoor soccer you know what I’m talking about.  Most of the kids chase the ball around similar to a school of minnows swimming in the water.  But every once in a while there are a couple of really good kids that play as well, that don’t always chase the ball around the field. Tonight one young man had five opportunities to score on our team, but the combination of our goalie and defensive players caused him much frustration.  Each time he got within 10’ of the goal he would either be met with a fury of defensive players or the goalie would be quick to capitalize on the loose ball and quickly scoop it up.  Each time he didn’t score he grew more frustrated.  His body language told me that he felt defeated in the fact that he couldn’t score or get a shot off because of the defense.  He kept trying until his 6th opportunity.  It was on his 6th opportunity to score that if he would have continued with the same intensity as his first opportunity that he would have blown past the goalie and scored a goal.  On this attempt however, as soon as he kicked the ball towards the goalie, he put his head down and started running back on defense.  Well, as fate would have it, the ball rolled through our goalie’s outstretched arms and into perfect position for one of his teammates to kick the ball into the goal.  If this little man would have continued pursuing the ball after it left his right foot, he would have scored. If you have read this far, you probably can guess what I’m going to wrap-up with.  Just don’t give up on what you are doing.  Keep moving forward towards whatever goal you want to accomplish and achieve.  I think at some point in everyone’s life they wake up one day and think to themselves that this day is the day to stop because continuing towards {insert goal here} is difficult and they think they haven’t made much progress.  It’s when we reach that point that we should double down and keep moving.  Sure, failure might be part of our journey, but it doesn’t have to end our progress.  Maybe we need to take a brief pause and find peace and gratitude in the current moment.  We can think of failure as a conditioning point that strengthens our resiliency.  How we respond to failure and disappointments as we are moving towards our goal(s) is important because it is in those moments that we ultimately create the outcome(s) we are competing for.
This week I got the chance to catch up with Kona and 70.3 World Championships Ginny Cataldi. By day Ginny is a middle school Art teacher. You can also say by day Ginny is a world class Triathlete. In this episode, Ginny and I discuss: 1. Her introduction to Triathlon 2. When Ginny realized she would have a bright future in Triathlon 3. Qualifying for her first Kona World Championships 4. Relationships and Triathlon 5. Balancing teaching and training 6. How to plan out a season 7. Training through a pandemic 8. Next steps into 2021
This week I had to catch up with world class Triathlete and super mom Kristen Lipscomb.  Kristen and I were teammates in high school (track and field).  We both competed in the throwing events, with some shorter races sprinkled in.  Since graduating from high school, Kristen has become a world class Triathlete, having qualified for the 70.3 world championships in 2020.  Besides being a world class athlete, Kristen is a wife and mom of two little ones.  Even after our interview, I still struggle with figuring out how she is able to balance a career, family, and training all through a world-wide pandemic. In this episode, Kristen and I discussed: 1. All things Webster 2. Competing in high school track and field 3. Overcoming injuries in high school 4. Making the transition to Triathlon 5. When she realized she might be a "good" Triathlete 6. Racing for two 7. Managing a work-life balance 8. The mental conditioning required to race longer distances (half and full Ironman races) 9. What goes into the physical preparation of competing in longer distances 10. Advice for those interested in competing in Triathlon
This week I got the chance to catch up with Pan American Games Gold Medalist Olympic Weightlifter Alyssa Ritchey.  I was so pumped to conduct this interview that we just kept on talking!  Alyssa's weightlifting credentials are amazing:   2019 Pan American Championship 2019; 1st for snatch, Clean & jerk, and total   Strongest athlete pound for pound in the history of the USA for the clean and jerk at 107kg made at Pan Americans in 2019   Pan American record holder for clean & jerk   12th at World Championships in 2018   4th at the Pan American Championships in 2018   7th at World Championship in 2017   Medalist at the 2017 Pan American Championships 3rd in total & 2nd in snatch   5th USA woman to ever clean & jerk double bodyweight in the history of the USA made Pan Americans in 2017   Alyssa is also a 4x Regional Crossfit Games competitor.  In this interview Alyssa and I discussed:   1. Her childhood and how she got her start in athletics  2. Her introduction to Olympic Weightlifting   3. Competing in Crossfit  4. Qualifying for Crossfit Regionals  5. Making the transition to only Olympic Weightlifting  6. Qualifying for her first international Olympic Weightlifting Team  7. Traveling  8. Cutting weight  9. The USA Olympic Weightlifting International Team selection process
This week I got the chance to catch up with USC graduate and all-round badass thrower Nick Ponzio.  It was great conversation, one in which I realized that we have more in common besides throwing.  Nick's family came to the United States from Italy shortly after the conclusion to World War I, settled on the East Coast before finally settling in Southern California.   In this episode, Nick and I discussed:  1. Growing up Italian-American  2. Picking up the shot as a junior in high school  3. Selecting Florida  4. Making the transition to USC  5. How his family encouraged him to continue throwing post-collegiately  6. Training in Arizona with Ryan Whiting  7. Competing on the international stage  8. Finishing 4th in the world  9. Training for the 2021 season and Olympic Trials  10. Advice for others stuck at a crossroads in their lives
This week I got the chance to catch up with master's world champion Olympic weightlifter Kristi Brewer. Besides being a world champion lifter, Kristi is also a world record holder and all world wife and mom. In this episode Kristi and I discussed: 1. Her introduction to Olympic weightlifting 2. When she realized she could be a "good" lifter 3. Qualifying for USA Nationals in her first competition 4. Competing internationally 5. Managing a home/training balance with her family  6. Advice for new Olympic weightlifters 7. Making the decision to train full-time and get away from the corporate world 8. Next competition steps
In this episode I answered questions I received on Instagram.   1.  How did you end up at Alfred St.? 2.  How do you set up your practice schedule through COVID restrictions? 3.  Best ways to keep kids engaged 4.  Thoughts on missing the indoor season 5.  Keeping athletes motivated with the potential loss of the indoor and outdoor season
This week I got the chance to catch up with All American thrower Megan Tomei. Megan is the current throwing coach at YSU. In her brief stint as throwing coach, Megan has already led one YSU thrower to compete on the international stage. Megan is a graduate of Ashland University where she threw under the watchful eye of Jud Logan. In this episode, Megan and I discussed: 1. How she first got involved in throwing 2. Why she decided to take her throwing talents to Ashland University 3. Overcoming injury and adversity at Ashland 4. The transition to a new coach and post-collegiate throwing 5. Maintaining a successful throwing/coach/life balance at YSU 6. Taking advantage of opportunities presented 7. What to make of training towards the 2020 Olympic Trials, now the 2021 Olympic Trials 8. Finding purpose in throwing 9. Establishing buy in with her athletes at YSU
What is holding you back from accomplishing your goals?
It took us about five years, but we finally scheduled this interview and got it recorded.  I've known Dom for over 10 years.  We competed against each other.  We also coached against each other.   In this episode, Dom and I discussed:   1. Competing at the collegiate level  2. Throwing in the SUNY Brockport system  3. Post-collegiate throwing  4. Coaching at the collegiate level  5. Starting a business  6. Training philosophies  7. Training with a family  8. Putting together a garage (barn) gym
This week I got the chance to catch up with Olympic Weightlifter Noel Leka.  Noel is a certified USAW-Level 2 coach as well as a CrossFit L1 coach.  He is also one of the top Olympic weightlifters in the United States, having competed at the previous two Arnold Classics.  In 2019, Noel earned the silver medal in the Snatch at the US Championships.   In this episode, Noel and I discussed:   1. His introduction to Olympic Weightlifting  2. Moving to the United States at an early age  3. Playing high school sports  4. When he began taking Olympic Weightlifting seriously  5. How coaching has helped him become a better lifter  6. Competing at the Arnold Classic  7. Expectations vs. the realities of Olympic Weightlifting  8. Advice for new lifters and coaches  9. The goal-setting process for each competition  10. How to pick the right competition for you  11. What he is focused on for the remainder of 2020
This week I got the chance to catch up with Hillsdale College throwing coach Jessica Bridenthal.  Jessica competed at Ashland University during her throwing career, racking up an incredible 12 All-American awards and a National Championship in the 20lb. weight throw.  After her collegiate throwing career ended, Jess set her sights on the Highland Games.  During her career as a Highland athlete, Jess won multiple world championships.   In this interview, Jess and I discussed;   1. How she got into throwing at Ashland  2. Her transition from Basketball to thrower  3. Competing for Ashland University  4. Calling Adriane Blewitt Wilson  5. Taking advantage of opportunities  6. Throwing in the Highland Games  7. Coaching and throwing  8. Traveling around the world  9. How Highland Games competition have helped with coaching throwers  10. Coaching at the collegiate level  11. Next endeavors
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