Pep Talks by Dennis Pursley

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American Swim Coaches Association’s Hall of Fame Swim Coach Dennis Pursley shares his career collection of motivational talks and coaching lessons in this one-of-a-kind digital book called Pursley’s Pep Talks.

Every successful coach understands the importance of creating a positive training environment. Our thoughts, choices and decisions will be influenced by the environment around us.

A commitment to excellence is extremely difficult to sustain even under the best of circumstances. It be-comes almost impossible to sustain if we are surrounded by negative influences or by those who promote self-indulgence or mediocrity.

As much as we are able, we should immerse ourselves in an environment that is conducive to the pursuit of excellence. This means that we should choose our friends from among those who are striving to be the best they can be and who are willing to make the necessary commitment to achieve that goal.
It means that the books we read and our entertainment choices should be inspiring and challenging. Most importantly, we should challenge ourselves to “keep it positive” in all of our thoughts, words and actions. The closer we come to achieving this objective, the more likely we will be to achieve performance excellence.

– Dennis Pursley The Positive Choice, Chapter 1

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Table of Contents

 Chapter 1 – THE POSITIVE CHOICE

Chapter 2  –  PRIORITIES

Chapter 3  –  COMMITMENT

Chapter 4 – RESPONSE TO ADVERSITY

Chapter 5 – EXPECT TO BE CHALLENGED

Chapter 6 – JUST FOR THE HECK OF IT!

Chapter 7 – SACRIFICE

Chapter 8 – PERSEVERANCE

Chapter 9 – LITTLE THINGS MAKE A BIG DIFFERENCE

Chapter 10 -THE “COMFORT ZONE” TRAP

Chapter 11 – SELF-RELIANCE AND ADAPTABILITY

Chapter 12 – WHEN OPPORTUNITY KNOCKS

Chapter 13 – STEPPING DOWN TO THE BIG MEET

Chapter 14 – A BALANCED PERSPECTIVE

Chapter 15 – PERFORMING UNDER PRESSURE

Chapter 16 – NO EXCUSES

Chapter 17 – MENTAL  TOUGHNESS IS A HABIT

Chapter 18 – FINISHING STRONG

Chapter 19 – UNITY AND FOCUS

Chapter 20 – THE “TEAM FIRST” MINDSET

Chapter 21 – UNCONDITIONAL  SUPPORT

Chapter 22 – THE PACK  MENTALITY

Chapter 23 – THE ISSUE OF WINNING

Chapter 24 – HONEST  ANALYSIS

Chapter 25 – APPRECIATION

Chapter 26 – THE REAL VALUE IN WHAT WE DO

Chapter 27 – WE CAN ALL CONTRIBUTE

Chapter 28 – ATTRIBUTES OF A CHAMPION


About Dennis Pursley

052013_Staff_PursleyD_Mugs_JMS063_1After getting his start as a volunteer coach on Crimson Tide legend Don Gambril’s first Alabama staff, Dennis Pursley has gone on to one of the most extraordinary careers in the sport of swimming, a career that led him to be named one of the 25 most influential people in the history of USA Swimming in 2003.

With a career that has taken him all over the globe – including stops as the first head coach of the Australian Institute of Sport, the inaugural director of the United States National Team and most recently the head coach of Great Britain’s 2012 Olympic squad – Pursley is a proven program builder who has made an immediate and significant impact on every team he has touched.

The Louisville, Ky., native, who was inducted into the American Swimming Coaches Hall of Fame in 2006, worked under Tide legends John Foster and Don Gambril to start his coaching career in the mid-1970s, following an Alabama career that included earning All-Southeastern Conference honors and the 1969 SEC 200 breaststroke title. He earned a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree from Alabama in 1972 and 1973, respectively.

Following his initial stint with the Tide, he returned to his hometown to become head coach of Lakeside Swim Club. It was during this time that he was appointed to the coaching staff of the 1979 USA Pan American Games team. In that competition one of his swimmers, Mary T. Meagher, surprised the swimming world by establishing her first of several world records.

Meagher, who would be crowned “Madam Butterfly,” earned a place on the 1980 U.S. Olympic team and went on to set world records that stood for decades.

In addition to Meagher and four others, Pursley coached Glenn Mills to a spot on the USA Olympic squad in 1980. Mills would go on to swim for the Tide, winning the NCAA 200 breaststroke title in 1983.

Pursley then became head coach of the Cincinnati Marlins and led them to their first three national championship titles. Eleven swimmers on his 1980 championship team accounted for 28 top-25 world rankings in individual events and eight Marlin relays were ranked among the top 25 in the world in that same year. After placing six swimmers on the 1980 USA Olympic Team who accounted for two world records and four No. 1 world rankings, Pursley was appointed to the USA Olympic Team staff and was awarded 1980 “Coach of the Year” honors by the American Swimming Coaches Association.

During the first decade of Pursley’s career, his swimmers accounted for seven world records, 12 American Records and 20 U.S. National Championship titles as well as numerous medals in major international competitions – including the Olympic Games and the World Championships.

In 1981, Pursley was named as the first head coach of the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS), where he served as head coach of the combined team for two years and the men’s team until August, 1984. Six of the AIS athletes who had trained under Pursley (four men and two women) accounted for half of Australia’s medals in the 1984 Olympic Games. Only one of those Olympians was ranked among the top 20 in the world in 1983.

He was appointed the first USA Swimming National Team Director in 1989 and was responsible for all aspects of the Team USA program. During his 14-year tenure, the medal production of the USA team skyrocketed.

The USA team finished first in the medal count in both men’s and women’s competitions in all three Olympiads of his tenure, culminating with 33 medals, including 14 gold, at the 2000 Olympics which was described by “Sports Illustrated” as the greatest team performance of all time. In recognition of his contributions, Pursley was awarded the United States Olympic Committee Chairman’s “Coaching Award” for 2000.

The Hall of Fame coach returned to the deck of the Alabama Aquatic Center after leading Great Britain to a UK record 23 spots in the championship finals of the London Olympics in the summer of 2012.

It didn’t take Pursley long to work his magic with the Crimson Tide. In 2014, his second year in Tuscaloosa, Pursley led Alabama to a record-shattering season that saw the men’s and women’s teams break a combined 21 school records including 19 of 36 swimming records. Both the men and the women made significant moves up the rankings at both the Southeastern Conference and NCAA Championships. After moving up six spots at the SEC Championships and 16 spots at the NCAA Championships, the Tide men were named the 2014 “Break-Out Team” of the year by the College Swimming & Diving Honors program.

In 2015, his third season at Alabama’s helm, he led the Tide men to their first top-10 NCAA finish since 1994 and the Tide women to their first top-30 national finish since 2005. The Tide also continued rewriting the school record board in 2015, breaking 21 Alabama marks for the second year in a row.

Continuing its amazing run in 2016, the men posted a sixth-place finish at the NCAA Championships, their highest finish since 1983 while the women took 28th their best finish since 2005. With a 10th-place finish in 2015 and a sixth-place finish in 2016, Alabama’s men posted back-to-back NCAA top-10 finishes for the first time since 1985 and 1986 when the Crimson Tide finished eighth both years.

Pursley and his wife Mary Jo have five children, Lisa, Brian, David, Steven and J.J. Lisa and David are both past members of his Alabama staff as assistant coaches, while J.J. is a senior on the 2016-17 men’s team.

 

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