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Becoming Aware of Your Breathing

A simple act such as breathing could reduce your stress.  The key is to become aware of your breathing.

For example, you are driving on the highway and a rude driver cuts you off then goes slow in front of you.  You become irate and want to kill that person.  Usually when this happens, your breath becomes shorter and you breathe faster.  You’re now not aware of yourself.  You are only aware of the other person.

In these situations, you need to become aware of yourself and how you will respond to this.  What’s the benefit of you tailgating that person or shouting insults?  They will only defend themselves and the situation will escalate.  If nothing happened, then be thankful that nothing happened and allow that other person to get themselves into an accident (this usually happens to reckless drivers).

Take control of your breathing – whether you’re driving, at the office, or commuting.

When you breathe, make sure you are taking a full breath and exhaling a full breath.  Become aware of your breathing during the day and make sure you’re not taking short breaths or holding your breath.

There are some steps to take to become more aware of your breathing:

  1. Before starting your car or beginning your commute, take 10 deep breaths.
  2. When you are involved in a stressful situation (argument, driving, meeting, etc.) take 3 deep breaths.  This will help you become aware of yourself when stress strikes.  This will hopefully lead to self-control and you won’t allow yourself to get into a situation you will regret.
  3. When you sleep at night, focus on your breathing and try not to think of the stresses of the past day.  If you cannot sleep due to stress, create a plan of attack to remove that stress from your life.  Do this immediately no matter how late it is.  You’ll feel better with 6 hours of sleep than 8 hours of interrupted sleep.
  4. Develop points during the day when you promise to yourself that you’ll become aware of your breathing.  For example, you can check your breathing when you wake up, during lunchtime, and  before you sleep.

Quick Workout for the Micro-Managed

For many people, the lunchtime workout is very short due to the constraints at their job.  For example, the job may have an unwritten rule that lunch hour should be strictly 1 hour.  Is this really enough time for a workout?  Consider that it may take you 10 minutes to walk back and from to your gym;  it may take 5 minutes each to dress and undress from your gym clothes; and it may take 10 more minutes for you to take a shower.  This leaves you with 20 minutes for your workout.

Below is a recommendation workout for those who are “on the clock” and in a rush to get back to their micro-managing bosses.  The goal is to use as many compound-movement exercises as possible.  This way, with one exercise, you can work out as many associated muscles as possible.

Day 1:

The first 3 exercises below can be done on the same weight bench so that you don’t have to waste time walking around the gym to find different machines.  Bring two dumbbells you can comfortably do bent-over rows with.  Perform each exercise for 10 repetitions and 3 sets.

  • Bench Press
    1. Lie on your back on the bench with your feet flat on the floor.  As you lie down, the barbell should be about your eye-level so you can cleanly lift it off the rack.  Roll your shoulders back so that your chest protrudes out but not have too much pressure on your lower back.  Your hands should be placed on the bar at slightly-wider than shoulder-width apart.
    2. Lift off the barbell.  The barbell should be over your nipples.  Lower the barbell down toward your nipples.  The barbell should not bounce off your chest.  Rather, you should lower the bar until about 2 inches above your chest.
    3. Push the bar back toward to the starting position.
    4. Repeat 9 more times.
  • Bent over row
    1. Place your right hand and right knee on the bench with your left foot on the floor and a dumbbell in your left hand.  Make sure that your right hand is under the shoulder.  Make sure your back is flat like a table and parallel to the floor.
    2. Raise the dumbbell with your left hand to the point where the dumbbell barely touches your chest.  As you lift, focus on the flexion of your back.  When you’ve raised your arm, the upper arm should be parallel with your torso.
    3. Lower the dumbbell back to the starting position.
    4. Repeat 9 more times.
  • Close-grip bench press
    1. Lie on your back on the bench with your feet flat on the floor.  As you lie down, the barbell should be about your eye-level so you can cleanly lift it off the rack.  Roll your shoulders back so that your chest protrudes out but not have too much pressure on your lower back.  Your hands should be placed on the bar above your nipples in a close-grip.
    2. Lift off the barbell.  The barbell should be over your nipples.  Lower the barbell down toward your nipples.  The barbell should not bounce off your chest.  Rather, you should lower the bar until about 2 inches above your chest.  Your elbows should protrude out to the sides as your do this maneuver.
    3. Push the bar back toward to the starting position.
    4. Repeat 9 more times.
  • Reverse-grip pulldowns/pullups
    1. At the lat pulldown machine, sit with your back aligned and your shoulders rolled back so that your chest sticks out (however, don’t exaggerate it).
    2. Grab the bar with a reverse grip with your palms facing you.  Make sure that your hands are about shoulder-width apart.
    3. Pull down the bar keeping your back in alignment without slouching.  Bring the bar down to your upper chest.  Feel the flexion in your biceps and upper back.
    4. Return the bar to the starting position maintaining an aligned back.
    5. Repeat 9 more times.

Day 2:

The first 3 exercises below can be done on the same squat rack so that you don’t have to waste time walking around the gym to find different machines.  Perform each exercise for 10 repetitions and 3 sets.

  • Standing Military Press
    1. Lift off the barbell from the rack and hold it in front of you at the top of your chest.  Make sure your hands are slightly wider than shoulder-width apart.  Push the barbell upward toward the ceiling without hyperextending your elbows.
    2. Return the barbell to the starting position and repeat 9 more times.
  • Squats
    1. Lift off the barbell behind your neck and place your hands wider than shoulder-width apart.  Your arms can be as wide as comfortable.  Stand with your feet about shoulder-width apart and with the feet rotated slightly outward by 2-3 inches.  Do not stand with your toes directly pointing straight-ahead.
    2. Bend at the knees and bring your butt down toward the floor as if you’re going to sit in a chair.  Keep your upper body aligned at the spine and avoid slouching.
    3. Come down until the top portion of your leg (above the knee) is almost parallel to the floor.  Your knees should not be too far forward of your toes.  The ideal form is to have the knees not pass the toes but this may not be possible for taller people.
    4. Push off with the middle and heel portion of your feet (not the toes!) and come back to the starting position.  Repeat 9 more times.  You don’t want to push off with your toes because this will put pressure on your knee joints.
  • Calf Raises
    1. Place your right hand on the squat rack while you hold a dumbbell or weight plate with your left hand.  Wrap your left foot behind your right ankle.
    2. Rise up on your right toes like a tippy-toe.  Feel the contraction in your calf.  Lower your right heel back to the floor.
    3. Repeat 9 more times.
    4. Repeat steps 1 thru 3 with your left foot making sure that your left hand is resting on the squat rack.
  • Abdominals
    1. Lie on your back on a padded gym mat.  It is not advisable to do crunches on a hard floor because it may cause discomfort in your vertebrae.
    2. Put your feet flat on the floor with your knees raised off the mat.  Your legs should be forming an upside-down “v.”  You are in this position so that there is no unnecessary strain on your lower back.
    3. Raise your shoulders and head off the mat about 5 inches and hold.  Fell the flexion in your abs.
    4. Lower your upper body back down to the mat.
    5. Repeat 9 more times.
  • Low Back
    1. Lie on your stomach on a padded gym mat with your arms along the sides of your body.
    2. Raise your shoulders and head off the mat about 5 inches and hold.  Feel the flexion in your lower back.
    3. Lower your upper body back down to the mat.
    4. Repeat 9 more times.

Exercises for Home

Below are exercises that can be done at home just using a simple bench and adjustable dumbbells.  The workouts can be split out into two days and this circuit can be done twice a week.

Day 1:

  1. Bench Press
    1. Lie with your back down on the bench while holding your dumbbells against your chest.
    2. Bring your elbows out to the side while making sure that your upper arm is parallel to the floor.  Your arms should form an “L” shape.
    3. Push the dumbbells away from your body and make sure the dumbbells are over your chest area when you extend your arms.  Focus on flexing your chest.  Lower back down to the starting position mentioned in step #2.
    4. If you cannot control the lift you are most likely using too much weight.
    5. Repeat the above steps for 9 more repetitions for a total of 10 repetitions.
  2. Bent-over row
    1. Place your right hand and right knee on the bench with your left foot on the floor and a dumbbell in your left hand.  Make sure that your right hand Is under the shoulder.  Make sure your back is flat like a table and parallel to the floor.
    2. Raise the dumbbell with your left hand to the point where the dumbbell barely touches your chest.  As you lift, focus on the flexion of your back.  When you’ve raised your arm, the upper arm should be parallel with your torso.
    3. Lower the dumbbell back to the starting position.
    4. Repeat 9 more times.
  3. Military Press
    1. Sit on one end of the weight bench with your spine properly aligned and not slouched.  Raise your dumbbells up so that your arms form an “L” shape out to the sides of your body, not in front of it.  Your upper arms should be parallel to the floor and your forearms should be perpendicular to the floor.
    2. Push the dumbbells up toward the ceiling while concentrating on the flexion of your shoulders.  Return the dumbbells to the starting position.
    3. Repeat for 9 more times.
  4. Bicep Curls
    1. You may either stand or sit on one side of your bench for this one.  Hold a dumbbell in each hand to your sides with your palms facing forward.
    2. Bend your arms at the elbow in a pivoting motion and slowly raise the dumbbells until you can’t raise them up anymore.  As you do this, concentrate on the flexion of your bicep.
    3. Lower the dumbbells back to the starting position.
    4. Repeat 9 more times.
  5. Tricep Kickbacks
    1. Assume the same starting position that you did for bent-over rows in item #2 above.  Bring your left elbow up next to your torso.  Your left arm should form an “L” shape with your upper arm parallel to the floor and the forearm perpendicular to the floor.
    2. Raise your left hand behind you using your elbow as a pivot.  Both your forearm and upper arm should be parallel to the floor.  Feel the flexion on your left tricep.
    3. Lower to the starting position.
    4. Repeat 9 more times.
  6. Forearm Curls
    1. Stand up straight holding a dumbbell in each hand behind your legs.  Make sure your palms are facing behind you and not toward the front.
    2. Using your wrist as a pivot, raise your hands.  Make sure the rest of your arms are not moving.  Feel the flexion in your inner forearms.
    3. Lower your hands to the starting position.
    4. Repeat 9 more times.
  7. Forearm Twists
    1. Stand up straight holding a dumbbell in each hand in front of your legs.  Make sure that your palms are facing behind you and not toward the front.
    2. Similar to a bicep curl (item #4 above), raise your hands using the elbow as a pivot.  Do not change the positioning of your hands – the palms of your hands should be facing the floor.  Concentrate on the flexion of your outer forearms.
    3. Lower your hands back to the starting position.
    4. Repeat 9 more times.

Day 2:

  1. Lunges
    1. Stand with your left foot in front of you and your right foot behind you.  Do not have weights in your hands as we need to discover your optimal starting position.
    2. Bend your front and back legs at the knees.  Come down until your front knee is over your front foot.  Your back knee should come down toward the floor but not touch it.  You should be able to do this comfortably without pain. Your front knee should not go beyond your front toes.
    3. Continue to experiment with your feet placement noted in step 1 until the top portion of your front leg (above the knee) is almost parallel to the floor and the top portion of your back leg is almost perpendicular to the floor.
    4. Push off with the heel of the front foot (not the toes) and bring yourself to the original starting position.
    5. Grab dumbbells in each hand and repeat steps 1 through 4 above for 10 repetitions.
  2. Squats
    1. Stand with your feet about shoulder-width apart and with the feet rotated slightly outward by 2-3 inches.  Do not stand with your toes directly pointing straight-ahead.  Have dumbbells in each hand.
    2. Bend at the knees and bring your butt down toward the floor as if you’re going to sit in a chair.  Keep your upper body aligned at the spine and avoid slouching.
    3. Come down until the top portion of your leg (above the knee) is almost parallel to the floor.  Your knees should not be too far forward of your toes.  The ideal form is to have the knees not pass the toes but this may not be possible for taller people.
    4. Push off with the middle and heel portion of your feet (not the toes!) and come back to the starting position.  Repeat 9 more times.  You don’t want to push off with your toes because this will put pressure on your knee joints.
  3. Stiff-legged deadlifts
    1. Stand with your feet about shoulder-width apart and toes pointing forward.  Hold dumbbells in each hand with the palms facing behind you.
    2. Keeping your upper body straight (not slouched), bend forward at the hips (not the waist) and bring the dumbbells toward the floor.  Do not bend your knees or hyperextend them.  Your legs should be perpendicular to the floor and your upper body is aligned during the entire movement.  Feel a stretch in your hamstrings.
    3. Return to the starting position using your upper leg just under your butt and your lower back.
    4. Repeat 9 more times.
  4. Tippie Toes
    1. Stand next to a wall or a chair for support.  Place your right hand on the wall or on the top of a chair.  Wrap your left foot behind your right ankle.
    2. Rise up on your right toes like a tippy-toe.  Feel the contraction in your calf.  Lower your right heel back to the floor.
    3. Repeat 9 more times.
    4. Repeat steps 1 thru 3 with your left foot making sure that your left hand is resting on the wall.
  5. Crunches
    1. Lie on your back on a padded gym mat.  It is not advisable to do crunches on a hard floor because it may cause discomfort in your vertebrae.
    2. Put your feet flat on the floor with your knees raised off the mat.  Your legs should be forming an upside-down “v.”  You are in this position so that there is no unessesary strain on your lower back.
    3. Raise your shoulders and head off the mat and hold.  Fell the flexion in your abs.
    4. Lower your upper body back down to the mat.
    5. Repeat 9 more times.

Arms

  1. Move the right arm in a full circle, forward 5 times then backward 5 times.  Repeat with the left arm.
  2. Sit in a chair, lean forward and let arms dangle loosely.
  3. Raise your arms out to the side and bend your arms at the elbow.  Your arms should form an “L” shape with your elbows raised at shoulder-length and forearms extended forward with palms facing down.
  4. Bring your elbows back as far as you can.  Feel  the flexion in your upper-back.  Then, bring your arms forward again.  Repeat this 10 times.
  5. Sit on the front edge of the chair.  Make fists with your hands and raise your arms out to the side at chest height.  Extend your arms behind you as far as you can to feel the stretch in your chest.  Repeat 5 times.
  6. Open the arms out to shoulder height with palms facing down.  Inhale, lift the arms so the hands connect overhead.  Exhale, lower the arms back down to shoulder level.  Repeat 5 times.

 

 

 

Hands, Fingers, Wrists

Hands and Fingers

  1. Stretch the arms in front of your chest. Cross the right arm over the left and interlock the fingers with palms touching each other. Raise and lower each finger.
  2. In the same position, press the fingertips together and feel the chest flexing.
  3. Lock the fingers of both hands together so that the fingertips are all touching each other.  Inhale, pull your arms away with the fingers still interlocked.  Your locked fingers will provide resistance.  Repeat 5 times.
  4. Place the palms of your hands together. Inhale, press your hands together.  Exhale, release them.  Repeat 5 times.
  5. Touch each finger to the palm of the same hand. Hold for a moment and proceed to the next finger.  Repeat 3 times for each finger.
  6. Make circles with each finger in one direction. Then, do the same in the other direction.  Do this for each finger.
  7. Bring each finger to touch the thumb starting with the index finger.  Repeat, starting with the pinkie.
  8. Inhale, make fists.  Exhale, spread out your fingers.  Repeat 5 times.  Make fists with your hands. Circle your fists at the wrist joint.
  9. Place your hands in front of your chest with palms touching in prayer. Keep wrists over the elbows.  (Elbows should be touching).  Inhale, push your elbows out to the sides with your hands together.  Then, extend your arms away from your chest with the palms facing away from you.  Inhale, bring your hands back together.
  10. Make fists with your hands. Open and close your fingers with tension.  Repeat 5 times.

Wrists

  1. Stretch your arms in front of your chest with palms pressing together.  Inhale, turn your hands inward toward your chest.  Exhale, turn your hands away from your chest.  Repeat 5 times.
  2. Stretch the arms in front with palms facing downward.  Inhale, bend your hands up from the wrists.  Exhale, bend your hands down from the wrists.  Repeat 5 times.

Leg Exercises

  1. Place your knees shoulder width apart while sitting. Place your hands on the inside of the knees.  Inhale, press inward with the knees while resisting with your hands.  Exhale, relax.  Repeat 5 times.  Place your hands on the outside of your knees. Inhale, push your knees apart while resisting with your hands.  Exhale, relax.  Repeat 5 times.
  2. Rub your knees, the backs of the knees, and the calves. Then, rub the thighs and hips.  Rub the kidney area (the small of the back).  Bring your focus to the areas you’re massaging.  This stimulates circulation to these parts of the body.
  3. Sit on the front of your chair and stretch out your right leg. Place both hands under the right knee.  Straighten your back and inhale.  Exhale, bend your knee upward toward your head and lower your head to meet the knee.  Repeat 5 times.  Repeat with your left leg for 5 times.
  4. Slide your butt forward so the front of the hips are rotated toward the ceiling. Place your hands on the sides of the chair for support.  Raise your right leg out in front of you and make circles with the foot. Start with small circles then gradually make big circles.  Circle your foot in the opposite direction.  Repeat with the left leg.
  5. Slide your butt forward so the front of the hips are rotated toward the ceiling. Inhale, bend your right knee toward your chest.  Use both hands on the right knee for support.  Exhale, press your right thigh against your belly and drop your head toward the right knee.  Hold the position for 5 full breaths. Exhale, lower the right leg and raise your head so you’re sitting upright again.  Repeat with the opposite leg.
  6. While seated, lift your right leg in front of you and clap under the knee of the raised leg.  Repeat with the opposite leg.  Repeat 10 times.
  7. Slide your butt forward in your char and hold the handles for support.  Raise your legs and pedal as if you’re riding a bicycle.  Do this for 10 seconds.  Challenge yourself to reach 30 seconds.
  8. While seated – Inhale, stretch both your arms and legs in front of you.  Exhale, lower your arms and legs.  Repeat this 10 times.

Foot Exercises

The following are exercises you can do for your feet to re-energize them and get the blood circulation going.  It is most effective if you remove your shoes and stay in your socks or barefoot.

  1. Sit straight in your chair with your knees over your ankles.  Make sure that your feet are planted on the floor and are shoulder-width apart.  Alternatively, raise each ankle off the floor with your toes planted on the floor.  Raise the left ankle, then the right ankle for 10 repetitions.
  2. For both feet, raise the toes off the floor with your ankles planted on the floor.  Then lower your toes to the floor and raise your ankles off the floor in a rocking motion.  Repeat this motion 10 times.
  3. Roll your feet inward toward each other so that the outer part of your feet are off the floor with the inside part of your feet still touching the floor.  Then roll your feet out so that the inner part of your feet are off the floor and the outside of your feet are touching the floor.  Repeat this 10 times.
  4. Clench your toes inward into a “fist.”  Then stretch your toes out again.  You are making “fists” with your feet.  Repeat this 10 times.
  5. While seated, bend at the knee and extend your right foot out in front of you.  When your leg is extended, spread out your toes then relax.  Repeat with the left leg/foot then do 10 sets.
  6. While seated, bend at the knee and extend your right foot out in front of you.  When your leg is extended, clench your toes in (fists).  Repeat with the left leg/foot then do 10 sets.
  7. While seated, bend at the knee and extend your right foot out in front of you.  Make Circles with your foot at the ankle 3 times to the right then 3 times to the left.  Bring your foot back to the starting position.  Repeat with your left foot and do 10 sets.
  8. Stand up and take a few steps on tiptoes.  Then, take a few steps on your heels.  Alternate between tiptoe and heels for 10 sets.

Another good idea is, whenever you’re walking up a staircase, walk on your toes rather than flat-foot.  However, if you have knee problems or pain consult with your doctor first before consistently doing this.

Working on a Project Team

What is a Project Manager?

The responsibility of the project manager is to ensure that a project finishes on time and within budget.  Also, the product produced from the project must be of high quality to the stakeholders/customers of the project.

There are many functions on a project team and the project manager is the “head coach” for everyone.  If you use an analogy of a Basketball team, the head coach provides a plan which puts the team in the best position to win.  Likewise, the project manager puts his team in the best position to complete the project on time and manage any issues that come along during the project.

The project manager is NOT a secretary.  Yes, there are many similar functions between PM’s and secretaries such as taking meeting minutes and typing up documentation or emails to support what happened during meetings.  However, the project manager is also responsible for any of the following:

  • Developing a project schedule with the input of the team.
  • Managing resources.  If not enough resources are available for the project, the project manager must secure more resources as the project wears on.
  • Managing conflict.  If teammates are having disagreements, the PM must step in and manage the conflict.
  • Managing project execution.  Ultimately, the project manager is responsible for the project.  If the project falters, the blame comes down to the project manager.

The project manager is not, technically, your boss.  However, don’t have the attitude of “Who the hell does this guy think he is?  He’s not my boss!”  Although, the PM is not your direct manager, he may have input to your performance reviews.  If you have a bad attitude during the project, you might see this reflected on your review.

The Project Plan

The Project Manager does not develop project plans for his health.  Once the project plan is developed you need to look at tasks assigned to you and make sure you don’t have a problem.

“If you see something, say something.”  Don’t wait until the team meeting to voice your concerns over your assignments.  Contact the project manager to inform them of any issues.  If the project manager turns out to be difficult to work with, inform your manager.  Together, you and your manager can work with the PM to have your concerns alleviated.  Always remember that bad news doesn’t age well.

When providing estimates on how long you will take for a task, use your past experience to be the judge.  Keep in mind that you need to consider how long it will take to complete your task as well as how long it will take to verify that you did the task correctly.  If you’re still stuck, reach out to a teammate who has worked on a similar task to yours to see how long they took to complete it.

There will be times where a project manager may attempt to push you into a corner to provide an aggressive estimate.  Don’t fall to the pressure.  If you feel the estimate is not long enough for you to complete your work, push back.  Again, if you are being treated unfairly, make sure that your manager is aware of the situation.

Providing Your Progress to the Team

During the execution of the project, you will be called upon to provide an estimate of how much work you’ve completed.  Usually, this will be in the form of percentages done.  It’s almost impossible to put an exact number as to your progress so I’ve provided a chart below as a guide:

  • 0-20% complete = Work has commenced but not too much progress made. This also may apply if you still don’t funny understand what work is involved. It’s your responsibility to make sure that you understand.
  • 21-40% complete = Work is in progress and you are on-course to meet your deadline. You understand perfectly what work is involved.  It is at this point that you need to voice your concerns if you are doubtful about your deadline.
  • 41-60% complete = you’re halfway done with your work. At this point, you have confirmed that there are no ambiguities regarding the work you need to accomplish.
  • 61-80% complete = Work is done but needs to be verified. You should always verify your work before declaring it done.  If you don’t you will expose yourself to the team as mistake-prone.  Also, PM’s do not appreciate doing re-work based on inaccurate status percentages.
  • 81-100% complete = Auditing of your work is almost complete with absolutely no trouble ahead.

Speaking in Meetings

When providing status, only provide and update for what you were working on since last week.  Don’t repeat any previous statuses as you will be wasting everyone’s time with the same information.

If you have not made any progress since the last meeting you’d better have a good reason as to why not.  Were there any obstacles since the last meeting?  Describe those as well as how you will get around those obstacles.  When describing a resolution to the obstacles, provide a task-by-task breakdown of how you will overcome your situation.

Generally, when you are providing status at a meeting you should follow the following general guideline:

  • What have you accomplished since the last meeting?
  • Are there any obstacles in your way of accomplishing your tasks?  What is your plan of action to get back on track?  Note:  If a situation arises where your efforts will be delayed DO NOT wait until the next meeting to give the project manager a heads up about your problems.  Contact them immediately.
  • What will you accomplish by the next meeting?

It may feel like a status meeting is an absolute waste of your time.  However, it is critical for the following reasons:

  1. It provides your project manager with accurate information as to the current state of affairs for the project.
  2. The project manager will report the project’s status to their senior management who will also report on other projects going on in the organization.
  3. Senior management will eventually provide a status to executive management as to the status of the overall program (a portfolio of projects going on in the organization).
  4. Based on the progress of the projects, executive management will maintain current course or reprioritize projects.  They also have the authority to terminate projects or to provide extra funding if necessary.  This is where your job security comes in.  If they decide to terminate projects you were assigned to, look out!

Bad News Doesn’t Age Well

If you encounter a problem, contact your project manager immediately.  Let them know of your situation and the steps you will take to resolve the issue.  Do not wait until status meetings to provide bad news to the project manager.

The reason behind this is that if you have Monday status meetings and your problems come up on the previous Wednesday, you would’ve lost 2 business days to report your issues to your project manager (Thursday and Friday).  That’s 2 days they could’ve helped you to resolve your issues.

Project Manager Personalities

Many project managers will have different personalities.  They will be assertive, friendly, serious, proactive, etc.  The one thing that project managers cannot be is abusive.

There is no reason for cursing, insulting, and put-downs.  If you feel that your project manager is abusive, approach them privately to discuss.  Document when you had this discussion and what was talked about (almost like meeting minutes).  If the behavior doesn’t stop, report the project manager to your manager with the notes you previously took.  Hopefully, they will intervene on your behalf to ensure proper behavior by the project manager.

Don’t take it personal if the project manager is sounding upset or is angry.  It is critical that you’re paying attention to what’s being said and not get shaken by someone shouting.  Usually, people who are short-tempered live dissatisfactory lives so they are always angry.  Take comfort in the fact that their lives are miserable and not yours.

Softball – Improve Your Throwing Skills

Throwing Accuracy for Infielders

Go to a park with paddle courts and draw a square (about 24 inches on each side).  Practice throwing side-arm or overhand to the square target to improve your accuracy.  You can play a game where you throw the ball into the square 27 times (representing the 27 outs in a 9-inning game).  If you throw outside the box, the “other team” scores a run.  See how many runs you will allow in a “game.”  Next time you do this, try to allow less runs.  Your ultimate goal is to go for a shutout.

A final note is that you can also practice using a net where the ball is returned to you.  Usually the nets have a square in the middle and you can use the same concept above for trying to throw a “shutout.”  These are usually available in sporting goods stores or super-department stores.

Throwing Accuracy for Outfielders

Go to a park where soccer nets are available.  Place two tall cones about 3 feet apart where the goalie would be.  The idea is to have the net prevent your thrown balls from rolling away too far.

Set another cone at 200 feet away from the goal.  From this starting point throw the ball as accurately as possible toward the two cones at the goal.  Remember to face your front foot forward toward your target.  It is not necessary to throw the ball without a single hop to the goal.  Your objective is to just get the ball in between the cones even if the ball bounces multiple times.

If there are no soccer goals at the park, you may buy a smaller goal from a sporting goods shop.  Make sure that there is a wall or building behind the goal so you don’t lose your balls if you miss the goal.

You can play a game where you throw the ball between the cones 27 times (representing the 27 outs in a 9-inning game).  If you throw outside the cones, the “other team” scores a run.  See how many runs you will allow in a “game.”  Next time you do this, try to allow less runs.  Your ultimate goal is to go for a shutout.  After each “inning” rest for a few minutes as you don’t want to overwork your arm.

Warming up

You must warm up before undertaking any sort of throwing exercise! You risk injury to your throwing shoulder or elbow if you don’t do this. 

If you are with someone, you can throw a football that you can grip and control properly.  The idea is to throw something that has more weight than the softball.  Throw the football with your partner about 30 times and your arm should be fine.  Start out by throwing the football casually then you can throw the ball harder as you get more warmed up.

If you are by yourself, use a size 3 or size 4 soccer ball to warm up.  Throw the ball overhand against a paddle-court wall or to a net (the ones that return the ball to you).  Again, go for about 30 throws to get warmed up.  Start out by throwing the soccer ball casually then you can throw the ball harder as you get more warmed up.

Developing throwing power

Whether you are an infielder our outfielder, repeat the exercise described in “Throwing Accuracy for Outfielders” above.  However, replace your ball with a Football.  At first, don’t focus on blowing out your arm with a distance throw.  Focus on accuracy when throwing the ball.  Remember to keep your front foot toward your target and not to the side.  It’s okay if you don’t reach the net as long as you are on target to get there.  If you are off-center too often then you need to focus on controlling your throws more.

Softball – Improve Your Defense

INFIELD

As the ball approaches you, put your body in front of it.  Don’t let the ball go to either side of your body.  Of course, it’s best to be able to catch it and fire it to first base but sometimes this is not the case.  What you want to do is to keep your body in front of the ball so that if you don’t catch it cleanly it stays in front of you.  Then, you can quickly pick it up and try to throw out base runners.  Your mindset should be that of an ice-hockey goalie.  If it gets past you, the other team scores.

If the ball it hit sharply to either side of your body, dive after it by landing on your stomach.  Do not dive so that you land on your side because you risk injuring your shoulder.  Stretch out your glove hand and use your other hand to help cushion your landing.  Remember to keep your non-glove hand above your shoulders when you land as if you’re doing a head-first slide.  If your non-glove hand is near your torso, you risk trapping your hand underneath your body when you land.  This could lead to a damaged wrist or shoulder.

When throwing the ball, keep your knees bent and have your front foot facing the base where you’re throwing.  It’s up to you if you’re more comfortable throwing overhand or from the side.  Don’t aim the ball.  Follow through on your arm motion and make sure your arm extends toward the base you’re throwing.  This will require practice.  You can practice this by going to a park where there are paddle courts and throw the ball against the wall.  With a chalk, draw a box about 24 inches on each side.  Your objective is to throw the ball so that it hits inside the box.

When throwing to another fielder (i.e. first baseman) make sure you’re throwing toward the base and not the person.  The reason for this is that fielders are constantly in motion and the fielder you’re throwing to may be trying to get to the base to catch your throw.  For example, you field the ball and want to throw to second base but the fielder is not there yet.  By your judgment, the fielder will be at second base by the time you throw the ball there.  In this instance, you throw the ball toward second base and not the second baseman.

OUTFIELD

You are the last line of defense and its imperative you keep the ball in front of you at all times.  Use the same techniques as discussed in the Infielder’s section to keep ground balls or sharply hit balls in front of you.

When fly balls are hit to you, don’t suddenly start running.  Pause for a moment to determine the trajectory of the ball and make sure you’re under it to make the catch.   This is especially important when a line-drive is hit to you.  Many times, your instinct is to start running forward to the ball but it will sail over your head.

When a ball is hit over your head you need to retrieve it and fire it back to your cutoff man (either your second baseman or shortstop).  Don’t think about it just do it as fast as you can.  Your other teammates will be directing the cutoff man to where he should be throwing the ball.

When throwing directly to a base, make sure you’re throwing the ball toward the base and not the fielder.  Your front foot should be pointing toward the base and you need to throw overhand for maximum distance.

Please see the article “Improve your softball skills” for details on how to improve your arm strength.