What is a problem? Is this thing that’s happening or not happening actually a problem? Perhaps the reality is just the reality and you’re making it a problem for you (and maybe for others)?
Once those simple questions are answered then we can get to work on finding solutions if we need to.
One solution might be to stop allowing the situation to be a problem for you. Perhaps your mind is allowing this thing to intrude and impact you in a negative way, making it an issue for you when it need not be.
If that’s not the case then work to clearly define the issue and get to work.
When something goes wrong we often ask a version of this question: “why did they do that?”
This speaks to intention, that the person planned to screw it up, the “why?” implying that they wanted to make a bad decision. Of course, sabotage might be in play, but usually it’s a given that the person was not motivated to do things poorly.
Errors of all kinds come from a lot of angles. Typically, lack of focus or attention to detail, lack of skill, or poor preparation.
Coaches should understand this and teach focus in addition to skill and strategy, and look to ourselves to ask how we can better prepare our people.
Punishment is an external force.
Discipline is self-imposed.
The difference is parallel to that of inspiration and motivation. We can inspire others to action, but motivation, ultimately, comes from within.
Discipline is the same way. We can offer a workout program, a daily calendar full of to-dos, build a tracking app, require a player to do certain things, and this might inspire them to find the discipline to do the things you want them to, but discipline itself comes from each of us.
Help others to find the discipline, even require the actions to be a part of your program. That’s opportunity, not punishment.
Coach, do you value competitive kids? Of course. Do you want your teams to know how to compete? Sure. Will you work hard to cultivate competitiveness in players who have been working on only their own game for too long? Yes.
It’s important to value competitiveness as a team, and not in a negative way between teammates. Pushing others to “win” in a practice setting, to beat teammates is not good unless it comes from a place of love.
The sentiment of, “i’m here to make you better, teammate,” is a great way to push you team to compete, but think twice before you encourage kids to “win” at the expense of other kids, in practice.
Coaches, we hear, “know thyself” all the time. Starting by doing the work to know what we value, our team’s strengths and holes in our game can certainly help you in preparing your team for a competition.
Also, know your opponent. On the face of it, a good scouting report on their players can be helpful on game day.
Dig deeper, however, watch your competition with a holistic eye. Pay attention to the undercurrent, feel the ebbs and flows of their style and energy. Aim to see holes where they don’t even know they have them.
Find the “secret” to their game, the go-to or the “hope not”, the points in a game where they are most vulnerable or lose their positive energy…see those and attack them there and then.
If everyone prioritizes paying attention, even in “a good way”, to what others are doing, their goals and dreams, a team will not be at it’s best.
The word selfish has gotten a bad rep. Being selfish in your preparation, doing everything you can to be at your best? That’s a great start to making your team better.
By being prepared and modeling the work you put in in selfish-mode you’ll be helping the team from the inside out. The foundation of a team is it’s people, so be a great person/player/athlete and you’ll be doing your part.
It takes a great group effort to be a great team. The existence of standards and norms that make up the basis of a team’s culture and the ethic of working together toward a commonly held goal is crucial to outcome success. However, relying on a set of “great team players” that are not also at their best individually is not a recipe for success.
All teams must work together in a selfless way, but the individuals within should make it a priority to be selfish in their preparation.
We are naturally selfish beings; it’s important and often valuable to have self-preservation as an inherent trait.
People do things that positively impact them in some way. We tend to do what’s best, or seems best, for us, and hope for good things to happen. We put ourselves first.
Seeing oneself as #2 in your own world is really, really challenging. It’s also a key to being a great team member. Find ways and times to force kids to put themselves second to something, anything, anyone. It’s great practice for team membership.
There are moments that matter more. Oftentimes we can feel them, even see them coming, but sometimes they sneak up on us, or even remain invisible until they’ve passed.
Recognizing the moments that matter requires a broader vision, a sense of the bigger picture. It requires a level of self-awareness to enable us to see others around us and understand the impact of external factors.
Self-awareness is one of the toughest traits to instill as a coach. We want our players to understand that TEAM is much more than a collection of individuals and that TEAM has it’s own set of moments that each member must be a part of. This vision can be practiced.
Create and make note of “the moments” and help your players respond without being overwhelmed by the importance.
We admire the people who have “made it,” been “successful”: make the most money, have the most happiness, win the most games…
We point to those people as role models, teach their tactics, employ their strategies, read their books. Usually we’re fired up and maybe it even works for a time. However, we seldom can bring their stuff into our stuff at a level that really makes a difference for us because we have to think about using someone else’s language. The time it takes to translate makes it stilted and removes the flow and often the efficacy.
Create your own dictionary and teach the language to your people. Once everyone in your organization speaks the same language without exception and looks at the world through the same lens you’ll be able to take big steps.
What’s that? Is that a good thing–hitting on all cylinders–or is that a stopover to great? If so, how long will you stay?
Hitting your stride, finding the next gear…if you could quantify (and you should) these things, what would they look like? How will you know?
Create a measurement systems and practice regular assessment (ask everyone, not just yourself or your leadership) on the way to continuous improvement.