How Are You Doing, Coach?

Actually, I think I know the answer. It’s either some version of “meh”, or — regardless of what you might say out loud — “I’m ok…It was a long/hard year, but I’m hanging in.” Those are the responses I get mostly, with an assortment of “I’m really, really struggling,” in there when people get real.

I also hear lots of follow up along the lines of: “…but i don’t want to quit coaching yet, I think I have more in me”. So for that I am excited. Coaches’ mental health is being tested alongside their athletes (and bosses), and we’re all finding our way. The biggest ah-ha moment for coaches, administrators and athletics alike is, surprise: coaches are human, too, and the malaise that we hear about in all corners of the world is affecting those in coaching seats, too.

Why that’s a surprise even to those Coaches who are having this experience (my hand is raised here), is really the surprise!

The comeback is going to be great. It will not easy, but it’s there for the taking. Cleaning up the expectations, the communication and accepting the flow of change in the world of athletics will serve us well. That, and offering grace to the other guy at every turn. We can do this together.

D. E. K.?

Does everyone know?

Do all of the central people involved in your program know what they need to know in order to move the team, program and individual in the right direction, with minimal friction?

The Coach whose answer is, “I think so,” probably should find out.

The knowledge they need to have starts with the standards and expectations and a clarity around: here, we do it this way.  This clarity allows people to show up and work together with efficiency. The norming of everything – the clarity of a program model that everyone knows – allows for both productivity and creativity.

The head coach first needs to be clear for themselves- tougher task than it would seem – and work to create easy to understand principles for all aspects of the program.

When everyone knows the games come easier and the connections grow deeper, things make sense and the outcomes are better and deeper than the inputs.

Ready? Go. I’ll meet you there!

“I’m Curious…”

The punctuation makes all the difference.

Caring a lot about the experiences of the people around me and being truly curious as to how things are happening for them is a key to being a Capital C Coach.

I start by asking myself what I’d really like to know. Rather than “how can I help,” I ask, “what does the situation need from me?” as help might not be the thing. Quite often the answer is “nothing”.

Curiosity helps me to slow down and ask rather than tell. It’s challenging for the head coach to think they may not be responsible for all of the answers…it’s also a weight lifted to realize we’re not.

Helping myself allows me to help my people. My curious approach reminds me that not everyone approaches things they way I do, and to slow down and truly wonder means I can be of greater help with less effort.

Win-win is a great place to land. I wonder what you think?

Coaching Practice = Practice Coaching

Over and over I remind myself and other coaches that being is greater than doing. Who we are at the foundation, our core, the personal drivers, are crucial to being successful day to day. What we do, the tactics, of course also really matter, but without a sense of why we care about the things we care about, the doing can be simple noise.

Lately, however, I remind myself that the doing must be done. No matter. We don’t coach others with words alone. If our words, the actual coaching, is to be successful they must inspire others to practice. Testing the movements, skills and actions of a sport is how performers learn what drives improvement, and winning.

Without the testing, the doing, the practice we can’t keep the experiment moving and gain ground on the skills.

Coaches need to drill like this. Create opportunities to practice coaching a situation or a skill, role play with others, to do the thing. Find a way to put this into your system.

Practice coaching practice. Practice coaching a meeting, a recruiting call, a drill. Make self-evaluation more than a yearly or quarterly thing.

Be. And Do.

Rule #7

I used to say that there was no book. Now, I believe there is but it’s not what we thought. One can’t read it over and over and memorize each chapter.

When coaches talk about “the book,” as in doing things by the book, or the book saying where the ball should go on a play, they mean that there’s an answer. There is a right way in every situation.

Nope. No answer that applies in all cases. Many things happen in patterns but there is no set of moves on the field that are true or “right” in all cases.

The game will incorporate the talent, luck, karma, skill, desire and momentum in the arena and help decide the outcome in the end regardless of what was written in the introduction.

Make no assumptions. Love and play hard.

Rule #3

Most complexities are compiled of sets of simple things.

Simple. Not easy.

If your team knows where and who gets the ball, all your bases and covered and has an understanding of the need for backing up the current priorities, things will go well.

The doing is important, and the planning and understanding is critical, too.

A team that’s confident in their ball, base, backup plan–one that has run the drills over and over until the play is sharp and the communication is on point–is the one that will be able to deal with derailments with aplomb.

Being ready when things go wrong is a key to having them go right.