Now that you are preparing for the upcoming spring and fall seasons it is time to start planning for both now and the near future; identifying and setting goals is the start. When setting goals you need to identify what your end game is; what level of competition do you want to attain.
There are long term goals and short term goals; and when needed the short and long term goals can be broken down into subcategories. Below are examples of both Long-term and Short-term goals for a High School freshman or sophomore.
Example Long-term Goals:
State Championship High School team
Play College soccer
-attend college soccer camps
-visit and meet college teams and coaches
Win College National Championship
Make National Team
-attend Olympic Development Program tryouts
Play professional soccer
Example Short-term Goals (6 months-3 years):
Become a Varsity starter
-don’t miss any practices
-begin and complete strength and conditioning program
-gain speed and explosiveness
-do daily footwork skills on my own
Make State playoffs each year of high school
Score one goal per game
Make multiple goal assists each game
Be a team player
Play winter indoor season
Play spring/summer season
Use the above as a guideline for your goals. Be original and set your goals high! Do not sell yourself short by setting goals that can be reached easily. If you are not quite sure what your goals should be reach out to your parents and coaches; they are the ones that have been watching you compete and know you the best, have them help you with your expectations and where you want to be as an athlete and a student.
When you decide and write down your goals place them somewhere they will be visible to you on a daily basis. As your training and competition progresses remember that your goals can change particularly your short term goals. As you reach your goals look back on them and begin a new phase of short term goal setting to achieve your long term goals.
Good luck and train hard and smart.
The new year is just weeks away and you should be thinking about preparation for next fall’s official soccer season. Indoor leagues exist during the winter months and are a great way to keep soccer fresh in your mind and the competition drive alive; but the new year also brings a time to look back and evaluate your performance from last season.
As you start preparing for your off-season winter training take time to evaluate the following:
If you answered YES to any of those Red Flags you need to formulate a plan on how to overcome those issues. Develop a plan to incorporate footskills, strength and conditioning, explosiveness training and mental training.
Each aspect of your training needs to support the others; if you are not committed 100% to developing each aspect your overall performance will suffer. Take time to develop a daily and weekly plan to build the best you.
The cold weather training season is upon us and hopefully you are preparing for the spring baseball season. Winter indoor training is a time to reflect on past seasons and work on correcting any technical problems in addition to gaining strength and speed.
Regardless of the position you play it is imperative that you condition and strengthen your body; but in addition to that you must identify strengths and weaknesses with your mindset. A great way to evaluate your current competitive mindset is to answer the following RED FLAG questions:
If you answered yes to any of the RED FLAG questions you need to formulate a plan to overcome those issues. You need to develop a plan to incorporate throwing power and speed, your bat swing, strength/explosiveness and mental training. Each aspect of your training needs to support the others; you need to be 100% committed to your physical and mental training by developing a daily and weekly plan to succeed.
Build the best you.
Successful and consistent golfers are an unspoken and elite group of athletes who understand what it takes to accomplish their goals. Many of us don’t understand what it takes to transition from “improving golfer” to a successful and consistent champion.
Here are some of our “process driven” habits that will allow your golfer to make the most out of themselves…
1). Focused AND Consistent Practices: Golf in today’s society is more of a recreational enjoyment than it is a competitive arena of athletes. For this reason, those who take their practice and preparation seriously will begin to see immediate results and jump levels ahead of their competition. Understanding the areas of improvement for each practice, not settling for average, taking mental notes and mental reps, and asking questions are all tips to practicing focused and consistent.
2). Trust Your Gut and Visualize Success: As a golfer approaches each shot, there is a target in mind. Our eyes are one of the most important assets to a great approach and overall swing. How clearly we can see our shot path and trust our eyes is crucial to our confidence. Defining our target and shot path before playing each shot allows us to execute consistently and stress-free. This worry free approach helps golfers quiet their mind and play without restriction.
3). Have a Pre- AND Post-Shot Routine: Having a consistent pre- and post-shot routine adds a form of consistency and confidence into each swing. The best golfers in the world know exactly how many practice swings they will take, when they will take deep breathes, and what their eyes will focus on before approaching the ball. Having a great routine also allows you to focus on what you can control (i.e. fundamentals, visualization, ball path). Consistent pre- and post-shot routines also block out the “uncontrollables” that can otherwise creep into your mind. A post-shot routine specifically is important for consistent reactions- not allowing your future emotions to be dependent on a poor/great swing or shot is critical. No shot or putt is anymore special then the others.
-Coach Paul Swanson
PREDATOR MINDSET The ultimate guide to success in Sports, School, Business, & Life
Deep in the African savanna, a lion patiently watches a gazelle. The lion crouches in the tall grass and stalks ahead, gazing intently at its prey. The gazelle hears a faint rustling and looks up. Its eyes dart from left to right, scanning the horizon for imminent dangers. But it sees none and resumes feeding. The lion springs into action with an explosion of effortless speed and power. By the time the gazelle notices, it’s too late. The lion has triumphed once again in this primal fight for survival.
Predator and prey. The animal kingdom can be broken down into these two kinds of animals. Eat or be eaten. It’s not pretty, but it’s the way of the animal kingdom. There is a simple way to tell if a mammal is a predator or prey just by looking at them. Is it their teeth? No. Their claws? No. Their size? No. It's their eyes.
If you look at predator animals, like lions, tigers, and bears, you will notice that their eyes are located squarely on the front of their head. Why might they have evolved to have eyes on the front of their head? Survival. With eyes on the front, the predator is laser focused on its goal: lunch!
On the other hand, prey animals, like squirrels, chipmunks, and rabbits, have eyes on the side of their head. Why might prey have evolved to have eyes on the side of their head? Again, survival. To live, the prey animal must be on the lookout for what is going on around them or they will get eaten!
I studied animal behavior as an undergraduate in the psychology program at the University of Pennsylvania, where I was an elite college wrestler. At the time, the full impact of studying animals’ adaptations hadn’t yet dawned on me. And I certainly never would have thought that 10 years later I would be at the U.S. Olympic Training Center, presenting this lesson to some of the top athletes in the world!
PURCHASE EBOOK HERE
As a mindset coach, I have worked with tens of thousands of athletes around the country, from young children to Olympians. I have helped them succeed not only in competition, but in every area of their life, from school to personal relationships.
The Predator Mindset: Effort, Attitude, and Aggressiveness, has proven to be the most effective tool in training these athletes. It is the backbone of my winning mindset system, which has become the top sport specific mindset program in the country. The predator mindset can be stated simply: "Eyes on the front like to hunt, eyes on the side like to hide!"
Predator athletes, with eyes on the front of their head, are focused on nothing but their goals. They focus on the factors within their control. They look forward. They live for the hunt. They go for the kill.
Prey athletes, with eyes on the side of their head, focus on things going on around them. They obsess over factors outside of their control. They follow the rankings. They focus on social media. They worry about what their parents, coaches, and friends think about them.
These timeless principles go well beyond athletics. They apply to business, sales, or even weight loss. In this book, I will train you to maneuver with the ferocious hunger of a lion, rather than the cautious appetite of a gazelle.
Step one is simple. It begins with a consistent morning routine. After you wake up and wash your face and brush your teeth, look at yourself in the mirror and locate your eyes. Are they on the front or the side? I once posed this question to a large group of child and teenage athletes. An eight-year-old literally jumped to his feet in excitement. "I can't believe it, I'm a predator!" After running over to give this enthusiastic kid a highfive, I kindly reminded the audience, "That's exactly how fired up all of you should be feeling!"
Regardless of our external excitement, we must understand this fact: we are all born predators! In this book, I will teach you how to distinguish the patterns of predator and prey thinking, and how to use those patterns to reach your goals. The Predator Mindset will show you how to achieve success in every area of your life.
Eye of the tiger!
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To understand how the Predator Mindset is the answer to achieving our goals, we must first examine the role that our mindset plays in our success.
What percentage of sports is physical and what percentage is mental? This is an interesting question. Experience has shown me that I can ask any sports team, of any age, and the answer will be anywhere from 50-90% mental. It is hard to imagine such a uniform answer among athletes of such different sports and ages. My next question is where things really become interesting. What percentage of your time are you training physically versus mentally? Crickets! Most say 95% of their time is spent on physical training. We can instantly see the problem. We must train smarter.
It is easy to see how those percentage numbers don’t jive. If you are saying sports are at least 50% mental, then it stands to reason we must spend 50% of your time training your mind. Now, not for one second should you think this downplays the importance of physical training. As a personal trainer and sports nutritionist with a Master’s Degree in Exercise Science I cannot over express how vital it is to maintain a balance between physical and mental training. Okay, so we know our success depends on our mindset. Most coaches and leaders understand this. So why isn’t more being done to train this area?
I CAN GIVE THREE REASONS:
1. Coaches don’t exactly know how to train their athletes’ mindsets
2. Current psychological strategies are too boring or ineffective
3. It is too embarrassing or shameful to admit our weaknesses
Let’s look at each of these.
1. Often, coaches don’t know exactly how to train their athletes’ mindsets. This is not their fault. Most are never trained on how it’s done. I once heard that there are no such things as skilled or unskilled, only trained and untrained. Most are untrained. You won’t be by the end of this book. Not knowing how to train mindset results in (a) leaving it to chance (b) circular reasoning (c) well intentioned, weak attempts.
Leaving it to chance. Technique, strength, and nutrition are far easier to see. Things that are easier to see seem to be easier to coach. Therefore, many coaches neglect this area completely, outside of maybe some pep talks, team huddles, and yelling here and there.
Circular Reasoning When I was competing, coaches would say I needed to be confident. Okay, great, how do I do that? They would tell me to just believe in myself. Okay, well how do I do that? They would tell me to be confident. Circular reasoning never solved anything. The same thing happened when I would try to overcome nerves and anxiety before competition. Coaches would say to keep calm. Well how do I keep calm? They would tell me to just relax. Okay, how do I relax? By now, you see the pattern. Just keep calm. And the wheels on the bus go round and round. Nothing is solved and now I am beating myself up for not knowing how to fulfill my coaches’ instructions. I made these same mistakes as a coach.
Weak Attempts I speak to many coaches who tell me they are doing the mindset training with the team themselves. Then when I ask what exactly the coach is doing with the team, I hear very predictable answers: I have them write down their goals, I usually talk to them before or after every practice, or I have them visualize success. I agree that this is an excellent start. But this is not what we mean by mindset training. It would be very similar if the team coach told you he or she was doing strength training by doing some pushups and pullups at the end of practice. Again, a great start, but unscientific and definitely not systematic.
PURCHASE: DEVELOPING THE PREDATOR MINDSET ON THE VOLLEYBALL COURT
2. Current psychological strategies in sports are boring and/or ineffective.
I’ve seen too many “mindset experts” turn wine into water with athletes in five ways (a) confusing mindset training with motivational speaking (b) using language that is too theoretical/psychological in their approach (c) starting with material that doesn’t elicit buyin from the team (d) employing a damage control approach to mindset training (e) relying on a relativistic approach to mindset training.
Confusing Mindset Training with Motivational Speaking
As a School Psychologist, I saw firsthand the research on learning retention rates:
Many coaches will bring in a guest speaker to address their team; this is what these coaches consider “mindset training.” It’s a great start, but there is no training here other than listening. And listening to a lecture leads to an average of 5% retention. This is especially true with kids; it’s ‘in one ear and out the other.’ Imagine a practice session where the coach just dictated technique as the team sat and listened. How would you expect the athlete to perform this technique in competition without active practice? Instead of passive listening, we want to rely on active teaching methods –practical exercises.
BUY IT NOW- DEVELOPING THE PREDATOR MINDSET ON THE VOLLEYBALL COURT
Being an athlete and a competitor, we are put in lots of situations that leave us frustrated, angry, overwhelmed, or let down. But how we react to those situations and how we handle ourselves during these tough situations are what defines us as athletes and people. We are going to run through a few comparisons that can both describe an athlete - but hopefully you’ll choose to be the better of the two!
1. Whiner VS Winner. Imagine you are in a situation where your team is neck and neck with another team and the score is 24-24. The other team just scored a point because the ref called a double on your setter even though you didn’t think the setter doubled and the other team now has the lead 25-24. What do you do? Are you going to whine and argue the ref about his “bogus” call? Or are you going to shake it off, buckle down, and do everything you can to make sure your opponent does not get the next point and win the game? The second option is better! You can’t change what the ref or your opponents or even your opponents do - you can only control what you do - “winners” focus on that!
2. Chump VS Champ. Are you easily distracted by the skill of your opponents? Do you let outside forces, like drama and relationships, distract you from succeeding at volleyball? If you do, you might be a “chump” unfortunately, because a “chump” is someone who acts foolish or is easily distracted by things. You don’t want to be a “chump”! You want to be a “champ”! Being a “champ” means that you can succeed despite playing a tough team or dealing with things outside of your volleyball environment. A “champ” can distinguish what’s important during certain situations and can assign their energy and focus appropriately.
3. Victim VS Victor. Being a “victim” is similar to being a “whiner” like in the first comparison. Being a “victim” means that you always blame somebody or something else during hard times like a loss or setback. Complaining that the line judges were unfair, complaining that you didn’t get good enough sets, complaining that the other team just had way too good of serves - these are all examples of things that “victims” do. On the other hand, “victors” don’t worry about these kinds of things. They keep their heads level and focus on using their volleyball skills to be successful. So the other team has really good servers? All that means is you need to step up your serve receive game! This is the kind of mentality that “victors” have!
4. Worrier VS Warrior. Being a “worrier” is super unhelpful to athletes because it is the root of self-doubt, anxiety, and low confidence amongst athletes. Worrying that your hits aren’t good enough or that your teammates don’t like you or that your coach is disappointed in you does not help you improve as an athlete - in fact, it does the opposite! However, being a “warrior” allows you to recognize any shortcomings you might have, embrace them, and work on improving them. A “warrior” knows that not everyone is perfect and there is always room for improvement - so using every opportunity to improve is a “warrior’s” specialty!
5. Goat VS G.O.A.T. I’m not sure if anyone has ever called me a “goat” before but I’m sure I wouldn’t like it if they did! Especially because the flipside of a “goat” is “G.O.A.T.” which stands for “Greatest Of All Time.” Now when choosing between being a “goat” or “G.O.A.T.”, I’m sure most athletes would choose the latter option! We all want to be remembered for something we were great at and create a way to leave a legacy on our sport. That’s why it’s important to strive for the “G.O.A.T.” title because that means you’re trying everything possible to live up to that title. Put in the effort and you will see the results!
These comparisons are pretty self-explanatory, but sometimes it helps to see them explained in detail. We’ve all been in situations where we worried about a tournament or didn’t agree with a ref’s call, but we excel as volleyball players when we push past those feelings. Start today!
Have you ever felt that you let certain situations control your decisions and destiny? You might have a future plan for yourself but it seems to be hard to follow up on those future plans. It seems very important but one little thing gets in the way. This could be something as simple as feeling to busy, overwhelmed, too much going on at once, not applying for that job, waiting the last minute, not using free time wisely, not working on the work that needs to get done now, being scared of what might come next, moving to a new location, people around you swaying you the other way, etc.
It is hard to feel like you are in control, but why is that? Well, some of the things I have listed above might be why. People fill their day up with excuses on tasks that are not the most pleasant. This could be unloading the dishwasher, folding clothes, studying for that exam, going to the athletic training room before practice, call your relative that you haven’t talked too in a year to thank them for the birthday card, practicing your skill on your own, working on yourself, etc.
You might say certain phrases to yourself such as:
Most of the time, the answer is no. What are you waiting for? Are you waiting for that day you do not have to set an alarm, go to work/class, have practice later, do homework, and finish daily chores? The answer probably is yes. But, haven’t you noticed you end up still putting it off because you rather just relax than do that task you are dreading?
This is when the power of focus comes into play. You have to ignore everything else you would rather be doing and accomplish the things that need to be done so your life can move forward in a positive way.
A little example from the book “You don’t need a title to be a leader” by Mark Sanborn.
Squirrels, yes squirrels. They are always able to get into a bird feeder no matter what you try to do to stop them. This is because squirrels will think about food 98% of their day. The person that put the bird feeder up wants to stop the squirrels from receiving the food. As I said, squirrels will think about food all day, while the guy only thought about ways to get them off the bird feeder for 15 minutes a day. Squirrels have that focus and determination, which beats brains and intellection every time.
The will, want, and focus can beat someone that naturally understands complicated things easily. As an athlete, we already have that will, want, and focus to do well. Something coaches have helped the athletes realize and athletes never wanting to disappoint their coach, parents, teammates, and self. It might be challenging at first, but after repeating those tasks, they will turn into habits, intelligence, and success. It will not come easy at first, but working really hard to get where you want will pay off in the end.
Sanborn, M. (2006). You don’t need a title to be a leader: How anyone, anywhere, can make a positive difference. Manila, Philippines: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Attacking the ball in volleyball is one of my favorite things to do – and I’m sure it’s a lot of peoples’ favorite thing to do just because it is so satisfying getting that awesome kill! We all see those highlight videos of middle hitters hitting in front of the 10 foot line or outside hitters cranking the ball line. And we also know what it feels like when we finally get that amazing hit that we want to add to our own highlight video if we had one. However, attacking is more than just an opportunity to look cool or feel strong. So, we’ve compiled a list to explain the purpose of an attack.
1. Break the opponent’s defense. You score points in volleyball by besting the other team’s defense, right? So, breaking the opponent’s defense is a great strategy to ensure that you’ll score points. When we say “break” their defense we mean make your offense so powerful and unpredictable that the defense is unsure and intimated by your offense. Using a smart and dominant attack can do that – tipping when the defense doesn’t expect it, intentionally aiming at empty spots in the defense, swinging powerfully when the set is ideal – all of these things can break the opponent’s defense and allow you more opportunities to score!
2. Force the opponent to play good defense. Going along with breaking the opponent’s defense, a good attack also forces the opponent to play good defense. If they don’t “break” then they have to put A LOT of effort into playing better defense. Because they are focused on defense, they aren’t able to put as much focus into their offensive strategies. This decreases their chances of scoring which increases yours! Think about it – if all your teams’ attacks force the defense to do overpasses or pass off the net and away from the setter, they won’t be able to set up their offensive hitters! So, your attack is a great tool to force the opponent to play better defense, which benefits you!
3. Control the pace of the game. Using your attack strategically allows you to control the pace of the game. There are times in volleyball, especially during long rallies, when you may feel out of control and a little frantic. But using a strong attack will allow you to control the pace of the game and give you more control of how the game is played – and you can play the game to your advantage! For instance, if you’re an outside hitter then for a couple of attacks you can fully swing and attack on the ball to make the defense recognize your abilities. Then, you can tip the ball right over the block to change up your offense. Then you can attack the ball again and go line. Then you can attack the ball going hard angle – Do you see how the possibilities are endless and can frustrate the defense?! You can use your attack to keep the defense on their toes and end rallies when you need to. The power is in your hands!
4. Play competitively. To be blunt, attacks are what end rallies – attacks are what score points – attacks are what give you the “wow” factor sometimes. If you’re playing a difficult team that also has a strong offense, then your defense is what allows you to stay in the game and your own strong offense is what allows you to score points! It takes both aspects of the game – offense and defense – to be successful but having a strong attack allows you to really compete at a higher level against those tough teams!
5. Build confidence. This final purpose of an attack is a more personal one – it allows you to build confidence. Being the one that ends a rally or scores the winning point for your team is a HUGE confidence boost. And being able to maintain the ability to do that only increases your confidence as time goes on. Having a lot of self-confidence allows you to set higher goals for yourself and encourages you to work harder and improve yourself. Without this level of self-confidence, you won’t be as motivated to improve. And professional volleyball player Matt Anderson says, “That is what we are looking for from everyone. Constant improvement!”
As you can see from this list, having a strong attack is more important than just for looks. It’s a very important aspect of the game that has a lot of impact on the game! But when you do nail down a strong and unpredictable attack you do look pretty cool in addition to the other important aspects of an attack! This list is inspired by the #BruceLeeMindset!
Looking at the title of this blog, I’m sure it’s easy for you to tell which one you’d rather be when comparing a champ versus a chump – you want to be a champ! (Duh, right?) A champ is someone who succeeds, takes chances, puts in effort, works hard and loves the game of volleyball. On the other hand, a chump is someone who hates to lose, doesn’t care about volleyball very much, has lackluster efforts, doesn’t want to improve, and isn’t an ideal teammate. We’re going to outline some key differences between a champ and a chump, just in case you needed a reminder of why being a champ is always better!
Performs on game day VS Flat on game day. A champ is always prepared and excited for game day. They know that they’ve put in the work during practice and work-outs so they have the necessary skills for the competition. On top of that, they are eager to compete and put their abilities to the test. On the other hand, a chump is flat on game day. They aren’t prepared, they didn’t put in the effort during practice the week before, they forgot the new defense rotation you worked on, and they aren’t excited to compete. Especially on game day, it’s important for you to be ready for the day, so being a “champ” is always a better option!
Loves the process VS Dreads work-outs and practice. We all know that we don’t become champs without putting in the effort and overcoming some setbacks and roadblocks along the way! This is why champs love the process of becoming a better volleyball player. They understand how the squats, box jumps, blocking practice, and approach lines are going to pay off in the long run. However, chumps are the opposite. They don’t look forward to practice or work-outs. They don’t want to put in the effort – they just want quick results without the work! It’s better to understand how the whole process is going to benefit you instead of expecting amazing results without any work.
Fights for every point VS Gives up easily. Volleyball can sometimes have insanely long rallies that include every player on both teams working tirelessly for just one point. If you don’t believe me, just look up “longest volleyball rallies” on Youtube and you won’t be disappointed! A champ understands that earning a point will sometimes take all their effort. Unfortunately, a chump doesn’t understand this. Chumps are quicker to give up on a ball than a champ is. For example, if a ball seems slightly out of reach on defense, a champ will go for that ball and extend themselves as much as possible while a chump will write off the ball and the rally and accept the lost point. It’s much better to have a champ attitude when fighting for points!
Aggressive VS Cautious and tentative. Champs are known to be aggressive. How can we expect to succeed or improve without being a little aggressive sometimes? For instance, if they really want to win that rally, a champ will take a hard swing on the ball. Or if it’s game point, a champ will go for a tough serve to win the game. Chumps don’t adopt this same aggressiveness, though. Instead they are more cautious because all they care about is not messing up. Don’t get us wrong - being cautious is reasonable sometimes when it is necessary! The problem with chumps is that they are TOO cautious TOO often and this prevents them from using their full abilities.
Not afraid to lose VS Scared to take chances and lose. Finally, champs simply aren’t afraid to lose! This is because they know they always give 110%. So, if they give 110% and they end up losing anyway, they know that means they need to improve so that their 110% can be enough next time! Plus, champs know that a loss can just be turned into a learning experience, so they aren’t afraid of it. Unfortunately, chumps are really afraid of losing. This is really detrimental to their playing ability because they end up getting too scared to make a mistake so they intentionally play at a lower level. Losing is considered “the end of the world” to chumps, so they’ll do anything they can to avoid it, including becoming a worse volleyball player. So be like a champ and don’t be afraid to lose!
You already knew there were clear differences between being a champ and being a chump, but we just wanted to outline a few of the major differences. Sometimes during a particularly hyped up game or hard practice, it is easy to slip into “chump” habits. But during those times is when you really need to dig deep and maintain your “champ” attitude!
Character. What does character mean to you? Think about it a little and write down three characteristics of yourself as an athlete. What do you do for yourself and others that build your character?
Now that you have written three characteristics about yourself, it is time to think of how you can improve these qualities of you as an athlete. Are you constantly asking others how you can improve these characteristics? What can you do each day to make yourself better? What is something you did today that you can do better tomorrow? Ask your coach, teammates, parents, coworkers, etc to see what you can do to build your character.
Competence. This is how you present yourself to others. Do you try to dress to impress or dress for comfort? Are you friendly to everyone or just friendly to the people you know? Do you go out of your way to help others or avoid interaction? Do you fuel your body to get ready for practice or grab something quick and easy from the fridge? The way you present yourself to others reflects how others view you. Make sure you behave yourself and do not make a bad name for your school district, team, and yourself from a careless action.
Connection. How are your connections with the people around you? Do you avoid eye contact or say hello to everyone that passes you? Do you walk a different way each day to view the world or do you walk the same path everyday and not notice the scenery around you? Have a good connect with others, the world, and yourself will make your more in tuned with the life around you and yourself. It will make you appreciate life every minute of the day and be more connected to the people that surround you. This will help team chemistry on and off from practice time. You will not feel like you are surrounded by a bunch of strangers, easier to communicate, and easier to have the will to help others out when they are in need of assistance.
It makes work a little more fun not being surrounded by a bunch of strangers. It is also nice being able to be friends with your co-workers as well. The shift goes a lot quicker, it is easier to communicate, and you end up helping each other out more frequently.