The Road To Successful Coaching
#Coaching #CoachingSuccess #SuccessfulCoaching #Integrity #Teamwork
|by SHAWN TRAUTMAN|
(read properly that says “little things equal BIG IMPACT”)
Having done quite a bit of coaching & training of coaches over the years, I got into a discussion the other day with someone who talked about how successful a particular coach was and shared their record with me. I acknowledged the record and stated what I knew of the many people that absolutely hated playing for this particular coach. They said, “yeah, but… he won a LOT of games.” I shook my head with a disappointed look and said, I don’t see it the same way. “What do you mean? What else is there?” they said… and, I spent the next 10 minutes listing out everything below.
Afterwards, I spent a couple of hours fleshing it out and writing it up. If you are or were a coach or you’re a parent or grandparent of an athlete or if you’re currently playing for a team or involved on a school board, please take the time to read & comment. Throw a thumbs up or heart at it if this aligns with what you’d like to see as the norm. And, by all means, if you’ve ever had one of the impactful ones, tag them here and give them some love – and, call out the number that best fit the impact they made on you..
Success at coaching has EVERYTHING to do with IMPACT.
No, not the impact of the coach. The impact on the player. Each and every player. Impact that matters and changes people. Impact that lasts a lifetime.
Now, for all the middle school and high school coaches out there who just want to win – we need to talk…
If you think your job is to produce winning teams, you’ve already lost. If your athletic director looks at your wins and losses to determine your success, it’s game over for you & your team. If discipline is your thing and teaching kids compliance and how to obey orders is your goal, find a new hobby.
Coaching isn’t about winning. Coaching is about developing people. Doesn’t matter if it’s baseball, football, hockey, volleyball, golf, softball, lacrosse, tennis, cheerleading, track & field, swimming, archery, cross country, or any other sport – everything hereafter applies and affects coaches, parents & players alike.
Coaching is a unique opportunity to shape & mold developing minds that are hungry. At no point should coaches be given the job unless they understand how critical their role is. It’s not just another season. It’s not just another team. It’s not just a paycheck. It’s not just another kid that shows up because they had nothing else to do.
To be an impactful coach, one must accept full responsibility for his/her team. An impactful coach would never just show up and wing it as preparing for a season takes discipline, knowledge, structure and a working knowledge of communication plans, objective measurements, goal-setting, and skill-based teaching.
All too often, coaches show up and pick teams based on the players who are the showiest, loudest, tallest, fastest, strongest, biggest, or the ones who are children of friends or that come from high-profile parents. No actual criteria. No way to assess anything or be ‘fair’. No real answer as to who they want on “their” team. Right away this is a huge disadvantage for many kids who are ready, able & willing to play but don’t get the chance. They just don’t make the cut.
Now, some would say, “that’s life” and others say “well you just weren’t good enough.” Usually it’s those who were picked without having to do anything other than show up.
You see, a successful coach isn’t just someone who makes things fun. A successful coach isn’t just someone who yells a lot and is on some kind of power trip as an authority figure. A successful coach isn’t just someone who’s solely focused on winning.
Successful coaches are a culmination of many “little things” that make a BIG IMPACT on players. Below are my top 20 factors (counting down, but in no particular order as they’re ALL important) that are mostly independent and strategies for what I consider “The Road To SUCCESSFUL COACHING”.
20. A successful “head” coach develops the mind of the players. The thoughts, the scenarios, the handling of mistakes, the changing of strategies, the evaluations of competition, the handling of winning, and the handling of losses. In addition, it’s the day-to-day grind, the importance of “showing up” and accountability, the ins-and-outs of the game and how to handle adversity and manage teammates. A “head” coach helps players understand the mind game and all that goes with it.
19. A successful coach conveys his or her team vision in a way that inspires team members to set the bar higher and reach heights they never thought possible. This coach motivates the players on the daily and creates a culture and atmosphere of synergy while instilling values such as integrity, hard work, honesty, trust, accountability, commitment, humility, and respect.
18. A successful coach allows for mistakes. This coach doesn’t lose control of emotions when mistakes are made, but rather keeps track of them to ensure mistakes are known to all team members and worked on as part of practices. Mistakes often have consequences that need to be understood and put into the minds of players as to what happens, what the impacts are, and how to get out of them. Mistakes should be celebrated early and incorporated on a daily basis in order to minimize them as the season goes on.
17. A successful coach sets up measurable objectives and provides an environment for skill-based learning. Skills that are used in the sport and essential for excelling. Skills that can be mastered independently and demonstrated. Skills that show progress over time, week after week, to show growth, regardless of wins and losses. Skills that can be captured on game film and recorded so everyone can see how well they’re doing or where improvement is needed.
16. A successful coach assigns rotating leadership roles to team members and helps each member understand the power of effective leaders through words, actions & body language. This coach understands the importance of empowerment and he or she provides regular feedback regarding their roles and encourages them to become stronger and more confident in how they handle their teammates and situations.
15. A successful coach is consistent in decision making, strategy, attitude and coaching philosophy, but is always flexible enough to change and/or adjust based on new information when presented in a manner that warrants it. Consistency allows for all those around the coach to know what to expect and have a good basis for how and what is negotiable and for when situations warrant further information or action.
14. A successful coach provides equal opportunity for all players on the team (more so for middle school). Every player that shows up and puts the time in at practice should get equal playing time in games to see how they perform. Growth happens quickly to those who get the opportunity. Unfortunately, so many great athletes quit playing sports in middle school as they realize how poorly organized it is and how the focus is on winning and not on the players.
13. A successful coach provides the players with constructive feedback on a daily basis and gives them tools to improve and ways to measure it. After every game or match or event, every player should be required to reflect on their own performance accurately, ask questions and evaluate their team’s performance in the same manner. This allows them to think, critically, about what they did right, what they need to improve on, what others did right and areas where the team needs improvement as a whole.
12. A successful coach is both competent (knowledge about the sport) and confident (self-assured) and is a leader that’s worth following. This coach knows how to lead (not just be a boss) and can be trusted by any and all stakeholders to guide, teach & mentor their team.
11. A successful coach celebrates successes and effort of all the players. This coach looks for ways to celebrate actual achievements outside of wins and losses. Predetermined success measures that can be quantified. Effort that can be talked about and praised. In addition, this coach actively demonstrates good sportsmanship by celebrating successes of opposing teams and coaches as well.
10. A successful coach knows how to win AND can clearly communicate the process of winning. This coach understands defeat and knows how to channel it into motivation and lessons for growth. This coach is focused on the “why” of outcomes, rather than just results and then drives change. Why did we win (full analysis)? Why did we lose (full analysis)? What changes do we make and why?
9. A successful coach sets up real-life or game-time scenarios regularly and practices with intent. This coach understands the importance of full immersion in practices in order to prepare their team for as many circumstances as possible. This coach does not just go through the motions of mind-numbing exercises, but rather makes sure every moment of practice is engaging, thought-provoking and helpful towards the goal of the entire team. Some call this “performance practice”, some call it “professional practice”, and some call it just “practice”. If part of a team is on the bench, they have something to be watching and keeping track off at all times so they can help their teammates. If drills include running and the sport has a ball, ensure the ball is incorporated.
8. A successful coach communicates regularly with parents and allows for involvement. This coach is upfront and clear about what the expectations of the players are, what the goals of the team are, what’s being worked on and why, and what is expected of parents. This coach also ensures that the parents have reasonable expectations of what the practices will be like, allows for open practices, what the involvement of parents should be at home, what the parents can do to help, what is reasonable behavior and what is not accepted.
7. A successful coach makes players the priority and is all about building self-esteem through team-building and personal awareness protocols. This coach makes time to speak with each player, individually, and understand their own goals, struggles, feelings, etc. This coach makes sure each player understands the importance of teamwork, the importance of treating others with respect, and the importance of representing your team in a positive manner both on and off the playing surface.
6. A successful coach conveys both honesty and integrity on and off the playing field. This coach does not waver or compromise on right versus wrong and knows that the right call is always objective and not just when it benefits him or her. This coach is always willing to fight for what’s right even if it’s at their own personal expense or the team’s expense. This coach understands that rules, honesty & integrity are always in play.
5. A successful coach makes both talking and listening a priority. This coach helps players articulate questions and answer respectfully. Knowing how to pose questions, what to say, and how to do so in a manner that gets results rather than complaining or whining is important and an asset to a team. Teaching players to be active listeners is equally as important and creates a culture of engaged teammates who have an interest in improvement.
4. A successful coach keeps track of all the little things and posts them publicly for the team and the parents. This allows for the players to have constant reinforcement of what they’re doing right and build confidence in themselves as they go. This also helps when it comes to internal competitiveness of players as the public statistics become a part of every player’s daily check-in.
3. A successful coach talks about the importance of active warm ups using sport-specific drills that ramp up as blood starts flowing. This coach ensures players are set up with knowledge and understand how and when to stretch, how to minimize injury by using best-practices and the importance of nutrition and hydration as well as cool downs and taking care of your body outside of practices and games.
2. A successful coach demonstrates time management mastery and provides outlines and agendas for all practices. This coach is respectful to players and parents alike and starts each practice on time and ends at the exact time it was stated. Every player is aware of the impact and disruption caused by being late and parents know exactly how to schedule time based on the precedent set by the coach. Expectations are clear and met each and every day by all parties as mutual respect for time flows in all directions.
1. A successful coach sets up a feedback loop from both the players and the parents. This coach knows the importance of allowing for feedback in a constructive manner from everyone he or she is there to serve. The feedback loop here gives all players and parents the opportunity to voice concerns, give praise, ask questions, say what went right, share what they’d like to see more of, and offer any other thoughts that would help the coach or the team. Coaches should welcome this kind of input and encourage honesty to help them learn and grow as a coach. It helps complete the circle so that everyone gets better in the end.
You see, impact on players is lost when it comes to just winning and losing. Life lessons are easily taught in an environment where the coach is truly in touch with putting players first – all players, not just the best. If you want to build a team of winners in the future, start with building a team who loves to learn. Learning about themselves, about their sport, about their teammates, about their skills, about their roles, about best practices, about their performances, about objective measurements, and about their community.
Every bit of the above can be done in a fun environment and is lost if the coach is rude, demanding, uninterested or unprofessional at any point along the way. Boundaries need to be set, but within them can be an environment that absolutely lights a fire under these players that’ll burn long into the future. That’s the kind of impact a coach can have.
Look for all the “little things” in a coach (or as much as you can get), and not just someone looking to win or just have fun. Then, and only then, will you see a coach with true power and the potential for a BIG IMPACT.
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