Having been an All-American in Track and USA national team member in Bobsled, Nic Taylor is no stranger to high performance. Following his competitive career, Nic held coaching stints with UCLA and the United States Olympic Committee. Now Taylor – a Sports Psychology Graduate, and husband to two-time Olympic medalist Elana – is settled in Phoenix where he leads Altis’ Paralympic Program.
In this week’s blog-post Nic reflects upon his personal experiences to examine the art of high performance.
What does ‘all jelly and no toast’ mean exactly?
This phrase is simple – yet profound. It describes a situation whereby whilst working towards high performance, one favors the extravagant over the effective. An all-star coach, and one of my favorite people in the world – Art Venegas – was the first person I heard use this term. The concept is important; because being able to effectively hone in on that which is necessary – versus that which is superfluous – is one of the most important Key Performance Indicators involved in executing at the highest level possible. At Altis, our primary goal is to help athletes develop their toast – namely things which bring the most impact and elicit the greatest performance returns: We aim to find what athletes do best, and make them better at just that! Nothing fancy, just what works.
“We aim to find what athletes do best, and make them better at just that!”
As a Coach, I too frequently see athletes and providers alike become infatuated with jelly (sponsors, media, and clothing) when the toast (training of the highest quality) was all they needed. Below I will outline how adopting this concept has help me tremendously.
High Performance. What Is It? Why Is It Important?
High performance can be best be described as a way of life. In short, high performance is optimizing one’s full potential. The great thing is, the potential I’m referencing isn’t limited to sport. A true high performer can be anyone; doing nearly anything as well as they possibly can! Whether we are discussing an athlete training for the Olympics; a start up company getting ready to go public; or a parent running a household – performing at the highest level possible is important.
How Can I Start Performing At A Higher Level?
Step 1. Define the toast, eliminate the jelly
In the beginning of the year I wanted to increase my back squat max by at least 20 kilograms. It was something I felt was important, and thought it would be fun. So at this point, the toast was increasing my back squat from 210k to 230k. The jelly? Anything that didn’t get me closer to my goal.
Step 2. Examine resources, find gaps
Ok, toast is defined. Now it’s time to eliminate the jelly!
My primary resource in this situation was time. I had to examine my schedule closely to find where I was being wasteful, and how I could remedy the situation. After doing some quick math, and realized if I gave up television completely, I would have extra time to train. (At the time I was coaching around 50 hours a week, and teaching classes at Paradise Valley College. So things were a bit tight.)
Step 3. Get to work!
Often the hardest step to take is the first. This is why I often suggest to start before one is 100% ready. If you spend all of our time waiting for stars to align, we may never start. So in this case, the final and most exciting step was starting. Was my plan perfect? No. Was it effective? Absolutely – which is the only thing that matters! At the end of my experiment I ended up increasing my back squat by 30 kilograms. In the picture above I was lifting nearly 530 lbs at a weight of 200 lbs.
On a side note…
For those interested in the concept of Key Performance Indicators, please look into my head coach and mentor Dan Pfaff. Coach Pfaff is an amazing person that happens to be an amazing coach. He has coached over 15 NCAA championship teams, multiple people under 10 seconds in the 100m dash, and Olympic Champions in a WIDE range of events. He has also consulted with some of the top professional teams in the world. Coach Pfaff is – needless to say – unreal.
Thank you for reading!