Lloyd “Bud” Winter ranks as one of the greatest running coaches of all time. During his three-decade career at San Jose State College (now University), his track and cross-country teams won several national championships, placed in the top ten over a dozen times, and produced 102 All-Americans (27 who went on to become Olympians). His athletes set 37 world records. As the result of his success, SJSC’s track stadium was known as “Speed City.”
But before he was an illustrious coach of track and field achievement, Winter served as a facilitator of aviation success.
During World War II, the U.S. military was concerned about the number of pilots who were cracking under the stress of aerial combat. The high tension and high stakes of the job were causing too many lost planes and lost lives.
Winter, who had previously studied the psychology of performing under pressure, was brought into the Del Monte Naval Pre-Flight School to head up a research program designed to help the school’s cadets relax.
Winter spearheaded the creation of protocol that aimed at alleviating mental and physical tension and was built around teaching the cadets to relax every part of their bodies – from the toes of their feet to the muscles around their eyes. The exercises were designed to help the pilots-in-training stay calm and cool in the cockpit, and also to fall asleep fast in their off hours, so that they could be better rested and less fatigued.
The program was a phenomenal…