Love the Struggle

There’s a lot of talk out there about the current “everyone gets a trophy” culture in youth sports and how it’s tainting the “growing up” experience of current kids.

We talk about the fact that this is bad, and kids are consequently not mentally tough…

What are we doing about it?

Sports are hard. Losing is not fun. We don’t always get what we want.

The idea that something has to change is valid. Youth sports needs help in a lot of places. But, what about the kids already in high school or college who have a real fear of falling short, or even of experimentation. What do do about or with them?

Find a way to include struggle into your day to day activities. Even asking probing questions that don’t have a clear answer can provide a challenge. Push back on assumptions, ask “why?” and “what else do you see/think/feel?”.

These will work to provide safe struggle that can help us get used to being uncomfortable.

This is real and coaches should look closely at helping kids with perfectionist streaks and all kinds of fear.

What We Want

What do we want? What do others want from us? Do you know? Is it important to know?

If we say we absolutely know what we want, that we have our eyes on the prize, that our goals are crystal clear…are we selling ourselves short? Might that prize be “less than” we can achieve if we have a great set of processes and ways of doing?

“This is what I want”, is results-focused thinking without any real definition of “better”, or a goal to reach for and, most importantly, the process that it will entail.

Teams will say “we want to win a championship!”  Great. How? Do you have a plan to go with the want?  A really, really specific plan or set of behaviors that you commit or (or at least know you should commit to) in an effort to reach a goal?

What we want is not as important as what we’ll do and who we’ll be day to day. Help figure this out by asking the key questions like: what do people/teams who get what we want likely do day to day to move toward that want? Do more of that and teach your teams how to know what to do in the short term as you move toward that end game.

Still, no guarantees.

 

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.

It’s A Group Exercise

Working together is fun. Being on the same page with other people, finding a solution that requires others to add energy to the system, to match up the gears with colleagues, is a great way to move things forward.

That’s why so many of us love team sports, and why people pay to do the same workout with others that they could do for free by themselves.

Being around other people gives us energy. Working with others gets us to the intersection of enthusiasm and hard work. This is true on a team, within a coaching staff, position group, office pod or neighborhood.

Without a structured plan, however, working with a group can be annoying and unproductive. In team sports, this is where the “one chief” model becomes important. Someone needs to direct the work, start the music, evaluate the needs of the group.

How do you make working with others one way you get better as a coach?

 

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.

What Works For You?

Are you one of the millions who pays attention through blogs, Tweets or books to the ways that those who have “made it” structure their lives?

Do you follow people, learn their habits and work to implement some of those things into your life? Me, too.

Do they work? Do you stick to them? Do you really know what works for you? Because if you don’t know then you’re not testing them well enough.

To me it’s not the ‘working’, it’s the ‘knowing’.  If someone else’s routine or plan for a situation is a good one for you then for sure you should steal it! If not, then you should pitch it and find another way.

Development of an assessment system that you can use for everything from morning routines to practice planning to developing players and assistants is a key to moving forward.

Test it. Ready, set, go.

Culture?

Coach, what is your team culture all about?

Not, “what is the culture of your team?”, but, “what does ‘culture’ mean in your program?”

Is it a set of values or a way of being?
Is it up to the coach or this year’s team? Or, a bit of both?
Do players value the program culture? Should they?
What about recruits?

Does it involve everyone close to your program? Just players? Players and coaches? What about fans, trainers & strength coaches?

Or, perhaps it’s more of a je ne sais quoi spirit, something that you know when you see it or are around it, that the team exudes when the members are together.

If it’s that, how do you define it to outsiders if they ask?

Regardless of what you want your culture to be, you should work to know what it is.

Leave your comments here or shoot me an email at gt3coaching@gmail.com.

Disruption

What might you do differently? What should you do differently? Have you thought about “making a change” in any area?

It’s worth thinking about as a part of your #10minsaday of working ON your job in addition to the hours you spend working IN your job.

Anyone can change when they have to. It’s harder to change before you have to, to disrupt your “norm” even when it doesn’t seem to be broken.

Disruption need not be life-changing, or program changing, but if you don’t make an effort to think about things that might enhance your success or efficiency, the subtle improvement ideas might not show up on their own.

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?

 

 

 

There’s No Scoring On Defense

in some sports “the defense” scores points, although their main role is to stop the other guy from scoring points.  In some, like softball and baseball, there is no way to post on the scoreboard when your team is in the field.

You can only win when you attack. On offense. Find a way to have a strategy on offense that you love, that everyone is bought in to, that speaks “we’re in control”.

Defense is a tone setter, but not scorer. Even if you’re great on D, you can only be totally in control if you have a strategy that allows you to control on attack.

Get to work.