Boiling It Down

Good coaching, is two things, IMO:

Curiosity

and

Clarification

Find out what’s required for success (define that, too) and what drives people (especially yourself).

Then boil down all of the things that your team will need to achieve the standards you decide upon, be clear about what’s expected along the way, and get going.

Start with a notebook and an open heart.

Problem solving

Most situations are not like arithmetic. Here there are right answers that can fairly easily be deduced. 2 + 3? Easy.

These types of problems are not interesting, and won’t stimulate you or your organization to move toward “better”.

It’s the interesting problems that move us along; it’s the noodling on things is really where the work gets done.

How often have you started to think or talk (usually we’re talking more than thinking) about one topic and come out the other side making moves about something completely different. It’s the process of consideration that makes the difference.

So, by taking problems away from people and offering easy solutions or giving away answers without asking for any work we’re doing a disservice to the world.

Ask hard questions of yourself and those around you and watch how the thinking makes progress.

Sometimes You Stink

Plain old stink. It’s painful.

Those who can find the good in the suck are plentiful, and I admire that. And, sometimes there isn’t any silver lining.

And that’s ok, too.

Being able to both feel the pain and get past it (not get over it, just past) is not always easy but, as always, time doesn’t care about your pain.

Keep working. Have a system that doesn’t get derailed by failure. Otherwise you don’t really have a system.

Frustration

Who’s listening to you? Do you have a place to vent that’s productive for you? What is productive, anyway?

I say go for it. Vent away!

While you’re there, listen for the undercurrents (or ask someone to listen to/for you) of what’s really going on. What does this rant say about what you value, what you really care about.

The clues are in there. Just like the world is asking us to slow down and listen to others, let’s practice intentionally listening to ourselves.

Coaching muscles

Practice.

We ask players to do it out side of formal team sessions, we know that our kids should get time in after piano lessons, people go to the driving range (not me, but some people)…do you practice the skill of coaching?

Do you work on your question-asking skill and train your eye with extra video work? Do you talk to the other coaches in your organization about the things they do that work for them regarding the infrastructure of coaching, not just the problem-of-the-day?

Find ways to get in the coaching gym and improve your skills. This is just as important as you technical knowledge.

Doing this is closely related to learning how to fail, just as we we ask our kids. You’re likely going to ask a yes/no question when you wanted more detail, or design a conversation that falls flat. Great!

Keep practicing being a coach. It’s more than doing coaching.

Feedback

For over 30 years I’ve been coaching college athletes, and each of those years they spend some time near the end of the season writing evaluations. These can be simply checking of boxes, or that plus writing anonymous (usually) comments.

This is consistently the saddest day of my year.

Win or lose, a season is an incredible emotional investment for all. At the end, all coaches hope that players have had a “good experience”. We want them to have grown and learned how to play as a member of a team. We don’t always tell them that, however.

Players seem to have developed this sense that college coaches are there to serve their personal development first and foremost, just as their private and paid coaches have done for their youth career.

Of course they do!

This is the experience they’ve had in sports–most youth “showcase” teams are NOT there to be a great team, they are there to get kids opportunities after they leave that team. So, why do we expect them to change their perspective just because?

College coaches need to frame the experience that’s upcoming when they join a program. This should be done in the recruiting process, and made clear again and again.

It probably doesn’t include a coach offering non-stop individual feedback , so let’s be sure everyone is clear.

We should stop saying, “they should know how to put the team first,” when most kids have very little experience with this.

The Look Doesn’t Lie

Recently I had a chat with a coach whose team was doing okay, but not great.

They talked about how the team was trying, how the kids had worked hard, how the team had some hardships over come in regard to injuries etc.

They talked about some things that had happened in the past and some things that they were doing now. A wide variety of thoughts were tossed out with a variety of levels of clarity.

As a coach of coaches I recognize words like those, and I really recognized the look in the eyes of this coach. They knew they were not telling the whole truth to themselves, nor to me.

They knew something was missing but didn’t really know it was them.  Well, they knew..

The idea of taking the time to truly clarify the things that are centrally important to you is a task that is not actually that challenging. However it’s one that we don’t think to do and we don’t think we can do, and/or that it won’t make that big a difference.

It will.

Start by asking yourself what you believe in, what the central “you” is made of. With just those two questions you’ll start gaining ground.