Regardless of Outcome…

Sometimes we say, before attempting any thing, that we are excited for the activity and will enjoy it, or learn from it, “regardless of outcome”.  True, we should always be hoping and expecting to learn from our situations, but too often this phrase is used as a built-in excuse.

We say, in advance, that we don’t really care about the outcome.

In sports, this is used when a team is young or inexperienced, or perhaps just unsure.

Having a good process and executing it well is for sure a key part of working any situation, but if we’re keeping score, planning and working to win is also part of the equation. Don’t give yourself an out before even starting.

The Ungoal

Recently, I’ve been taking the time to think critically about the things that I have taken as gospel as a coach over my career.  Like goal setting, for example.

For many years I spent time talking to teams about SMART goals (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic/relevant, timely, although there are many other versions of the SMART acronym).  I believe that if one is setting a goal then it should have many of these characteristics, and yes, having outcome goals can be a motivator.

However, in recent years I have come to discount the value of hard goals and focused myself and my teams on the behaviors needed to be the kind of team we’d like to be. Often, outcome goals are a consideration (“what behaviors do we need to do in order to get what we want?”), but not always.

The best behavioral discipline comes when the things a team says they want to do on a regular basis are a reflection of who they are–their values–as opposed to what they want to have at the end of the day.

Too often goals can be used as a crutch. We sometimes make excuses to justify behaviors that are not championship caliber.  We say that as long as we get where we want to go, it’s not that important how we got there. Untrue. Behaving in a way that’s outside one’s values, whether the values are stated and clear or not, is never a way to feel good about where one’s going.

Have some un-goals. Determine what you’d like to be on a regular basis and start doing those things and see where you end up.

Trial and Success

Resilience and failure are hot topics.  We ask how to bounce back, to embrace the opportunity to fail and try, try again, and we praise the growth mindset that pushes us to do hard things.

The world complains that, “Kids aren’t allowed to struggle,” and  we lament the “everyone gets a trophy” mentality. For sure, coaches and parents should indeed embrace their kids having chances to fail.

I’m all for it.

However, I’m a fan of success as well.

Reaching a goal or doing something well is an accomplishment that should be celebrated. It’s not important that every milestone have a party upon completion, but getting things done–being successful in achievement–is not the opposite of learning from failure.

Here’s to getting better and moving forward!

Chasing Happiness

Do you view happiness as a goal? Do your players? Can happiness be an end state?

“I’ll be happy when we win ______,”

“I’ll be happy when I’m a starter,”

“That team seems so happy!”

All of those are may be true, however, we also know that we don’t just show up and say, “let’s do everything we can to be happy”.

The truly successful coaches, players and teams name goals to strive for and then get to work ID’ing the steps to be taken, the things that will or might hold them back, and the factors that could come into play along the way.

Only at the very beginning, and end, of a journey are we “doing the goal”.

The middle is about the work.

Do More Weird

Just like the rest of the world, coaches are “judgy”.  We think that the way we do things is the best way (otherwise, why would we do it that way?) and we find reasons to poke holes in other ideas.

So many people doing “weird” things are having great success. Is this because of the idea, the implementation, the personnel, or a combination?  Hint: it’s almost always a combination.

What do YOU do that you think other people think is “weird” or outside the box? Do more of that.

Experience Required

When we engage in any activity we gain experience. Experience allows us to fine-tune our processes, to learn from previous reps.

Anyone will get better at an activity, to a degree, with experience, even a “negative” experience.  The baby learning to walk doesn’t “get it” simply because she is growing stronger and bigger, nor do her failures keep her from working at walking.

However, enjoying an activity usually means we will do more of it, be more interested in doing it better, and thus gain more experience. It’s a cycle. One that works.

Logic says we should enjoy–at least to an extent–the activities at which we wish to get better. So making experiences fun or enjoyable would make sense.

How can you make that a part of your coaching?

 

 

 

Intra-team competition

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.

 

Hey, Opponent…What’s Your Secret?

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.