Love and growth

Part of loving someone/something is giving to a larger whole. This thing has it’s own goals, norms and operating systems. It takes work, or minimally, recognition.

Embracing common goals is loving the team and becoming #2 in your own world–a challenge for most.

Train your team to embrace the opportunity to grow the whole through individual commitment. Talk about it, model it.


Horizontal Transparency

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.


Value the in-between

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.


Clear The Way

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.


At Least You Have Your Health…

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.


Sports Aren’t Fair…And That’s Okay

Work as hard as you can.  Actually do 100% of the things you could do to set yourself up for success and you still might not get what you want.
Much of the way children are raised in the modern, privileged world doesn’t allow them to consider failure.  They are taught to think positively, work hard and you’ll get what you want.  We’re lying to them.  They still should work really hard, have goals and systems to move them forward–the lie is that hard work will surely lead to success.
In team sports there are only so many starting spots, places on all-star teams and winners.  It’s zero-sum.  For every winner there is a loser.  Saying everyone can, with hard work, be a winner is doing a disservice to kids and to the process of working hard.
Yup, sometimes you do everything right and someone is still better than you. By communicating this we help kids value the process, really cherish the victories and learn from the losses. Without this clarity they come to think of themselves as losers and many quit trying.  This hurts everyone.

Experience Holding You Back?

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.

If It Ain’t Broke…

…maybe it still sucks.  Coach, you should constantly be asking questions and setting up assessments.  “How will we know?” is a great question to ask whenever making plans or adjustments.  You need to know how you’ll know if it’s good!

Perhaps it’s purely outcome questions like “did we win?”.  However, maybe you win with a bad plan.  In that case those simple outcome questions don’t get the job done and won’t work so well the next time. If you ask questions like:

-was our communication up to our standards?
-did we work hard on the things we said were key?
-were we mentally tough?
-did we support each other like we said we wanted to?

you give yourself a chance to improve your processes.

When you have the questions determined in advance you can really know where you stand and how to improve, incrementally, on the things you say are most important.  You’ll have consistency of process and things you can measure.

You can manage what you can measure.  Tweaking the stuff that’s not broken to be even better is how teams and players really improve.  Usually, if it ain’t broke it’s probably does not suck, but it still deserves a look.  Have a system to make those looks means regular assessment, built-in productive communication and consistent opportunity to improve.


GoTeamCoaching blog: We Have Met the Enemy…

…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.