The state of recruiting in many collegiate sports means that many players have deep relationships with coaches as recruiters by the time the kids arrive on campus. Soon, the team culture and friendships becomes an important part of their world as well.
Player to player relationships typically are socially based, leaving the physical, skill and even commitment-to-the-program development up to coaches in meetings, one-on-one sessions and off-season work.
What if teams spent time communicating what each member (players and coaches) was working on and how others could be a part of this improvement? Is there room in your program for less behind-closed-doors communication? Opening the “this is how i’m going to get better for the team” communication to all may help to both further understanding of what’s important and model transparency and common goals.
It will also help kids to see outside of themselves and recognize that they are responsible to add to the team, and also can take/get a lot from their teammates in ways that they may not have thought about. Open, honest and direct communication will help move kids and teams forward.
Making your goals and dreams public is exciting and probably makes you nervous. What if people don’t like your ideas or think you can’t do something (you KNEW it)? Sharing is risky.
That’s exactly why you should do it. Take a piece of your work and share it with your team. Ask them to honestly assess, or just watch their reactions. If it seems as if they can’t be forthcoming in response then you have a trust problem, not a communication problem. Open yourself up and insist on detailed feedback. This will likely be challenging for everyone.
Model acceptance of honesty. Say out loud that you think honesty equals respect. Ask for it, take it, give it back.
Two great options: “you can’t go wrong!”, can be paralyzing. Of course, it’s better to have too many than not enough, but choosing is never easy when we make being right or choosing best a necessary outcome.
Opt to look at is as an opportunity that might be great, likely will be great, make your choice, give it a well planned effort and see what happens. We so often think we have control over the future–real control–that we neglect to ride the changes and turns that are “what happens”. We view decisions as going from one clear point in time to another, when it’s the in-between times that really are where the action is. Our outcomes are made on the path from one defined “place” to another.
Not knowing the future should allow us to stop agonizing (not stop planning, researching or defining great options, just the agonizing) over two great options. Having to know what’s BEST is an exercise in wasted time and energy.
Celebrate your future, make an informed decision and be okay with not knowing. For now.
What’s your job? As a coach of a team it’s to push the team to improve, to win games, to develop athletes and people (your answer may vary but you need to have an answer). This is your WHY.
What’s your HOW? Most coaches spend the most time in the HOW of our world, yet that focus is often rampant with inefficiencies.
Your job, Coach, is to get obstacles out of your team’s way. Think about and test the things that might be holding an individual or the whole team back. Know what the variables are, measure and ID the struggles and the strengths. Perhaps it’s skill level that’s repressing success. Then, get to work planning ways to teach techniques and setting up routines to improve these areas. Perhaps you have reached a ceiling in any particular case and need to work on tweaking your recruiting plan and execution. The answer itself is not the most important thing, it’s knowing the questions.
Maybe an obstacle is the way your program communicates, the way you communicate; perhaps it’s a misunderstanding of the standards and expectations for any part of your program, or goals that are not clearly defined…your facilities, the perception of your resources, the vision of your future, the abilities of your staff…there are many possibilities.
Pick a place to start, investigate, plan and work to clear a path for your team.
Things are not getting done well, games are being lost or played poorly, your business or team culture is not moving you forward…but at least you have your health.
This phrase is also commonly expressed as, “it’s not like it’s life or death…”.
These are excuses of the highest order. What do those statements actually mean in this context? What does death have to do with it? Mostly it’s a way of finding something–anything–positive in a crappy situation.
The reality is that saying these things does not make you feel better, but you can pretend it does. It’s a way of taking something totally irrelevant and giving it importance so that the failures are minimized.
It’s a coverup.
Of course your life and your health–and that of those around you–is important. The sentiment is real, but not in the context of a coaching or team failure. It’s the failure itself that you should be examining and celebrating as a catalyst.
Do the challenging work of planning, working the plan and then assessing the result, and get to work on making a better plan, or improving the execution. The PEAR process is a crucial, underutilized tool for improvement. Stay away from the coverup.
Experience can be a great teacher. Brains and bodies work more smoothly together after thousands of reps, we learn how we work and decide what works for us.
On the other hand we often do things simply because we’ve always done them that way. “This is the way I am,” “that works for me,” “I know the best way to do that, ” are things we tell ourselves. Do we actually consider if these things are true? Perhaps we are just fearful of change. For sure we are fearful of change!
Experience also may cause us to miss out on new and positive tools and information. “Keeping an open mind” is one thing, actively seeking the best way to do things is quite another, and doesn’t need to be a sea change.
Take time to look at your team closely. The drills, practice design, rules, methods of teaching; review and assess everything and see if you are still in love with your systems. You may find that it ain’t broke but still needs work.
…and he is us. Walt Kelly’s Pogo cartoon characters had many insights and this is one pertains to coaching quite often–usually we are our own biggest problem.
We get in our own way a lot and sometimes we don’t even know it, or admit it. Take a look at the things in your world that you consider problems and ask yourself if you’ve been totally clear with yourself and everyone around you as to what is important and what is expected.
There is no such thing as over clarifying.
I’ve read lots about the power of positive thinking. I consider myself a real optimist.
There’s lots of doubt in all of us, however. Even after 27 plus years of coaching at the college level I’m often found wondering how big my next failure is going to be. There is so much that can go wrong.
Our players have plenty of doubts as well. We encourage them to “stop thinking” we tell them all about strategies that allow them to consider the positive outcomes…
One of the simplest ideas is that of replacement thoughts. Don’t fight the negativity with more negativity (“stop being negative!”), simply replace that with something else.
The replacement thoughts don’t need to be the inverse of the negative, just something different. Choose your thoughts. Be in control.
I found that for years I would make plans, make more, put a few in place and end up loving or scrapping them based on any one of a number of factors. However, it was not until recently that I realized I was not getting the most of my ideas, or more truthfully I didn’t really know how I was doing.
I needed an assessment scale to know. It needed to be consistent and ask the right questions. For me it’s a simple green/yellow/red scale. The measure is well-defined everybody understands the language and we know where we stand.
Now that we always know how we feel about the plan and the outcome we can decide if we need to improve the plan, improve how we execute the plan, both or neither.
That knowledge is really powerful. Through regular implementation we can constantly improve our processes.
When making plans, ask “how will we know?”, and measure at the end of the work. Good questions will lead you to better plans next time.