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.
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.
…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.