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.

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.

Don’t Ever Change

In a world full of throwaway lines, one that gets me is, “don’t ever change!”.

Why would that be a thing you’d like to do? Why would person A not want person B to work to improve, to test new and better things, or at least to prove that the things they do currently really are the way to go?

We should always be growing, learning, indeed, changing. And, while we’re at it we should be mentoring, teaching and growing others.

Changing equals growing. So, “change!” need not mean to become something totally different or to get rid of the skills and habits that make you great, but to grow them and grow others along the way.

How could you grow yourself ?

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.

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.


Don’t Forget the Hard Stuff

“It’s going to be even better next year,” is dangerous thinking.

Too often we forget how hard we worked. We forget the struggles and disagreements, the fights, even. We forget the pain of workouts or the disappointments of injuries.

Our brains opt to deemphasize the hard parts and glowingly highlight the good times and success (wow, what fun!).

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

We want to feel all of the glory, the excitement, the upsides and the wins.  We want this as individuals and as teams. We love the feeling that success will be easy, but we know better.

It was hard the last time, and it will take a similar bit of hard work the next time. Go.


Decide to Decide

Making decisions is much easier if you commit to being a decision-maker.  Telling yourself: “I am a decision-making machine,” will allow you to spend less time on the idea of committing.

Sure, you’ll want to get the facts and weigh the options while you prepare a big decision, but most just need you to say, “yeah, i’m good at picking between the specials on the menu,” or “watch me pick out a shade of white for the ceiling”.

If you can do that–making a reasonable, quick decision often runs no more risk of being wrong than does a protracted process–that you’ll be able to save time and brain power for determining the next steps after that decision.

In coaching there are tons of decisions to be made, and all can be second-guessed later. Usually, the opposite choice could be debated just as much as the one made, if the outcome is not what was hoped.

Taking the time to get the information you need is important, and being committed to being good at the act of decision-making will make it an even better process.

Don’t Just Listen, Stand There!

“Be present,” “listen with your heart,” and other phrases have become popular throughout our busy world.  We move so fast, and do many things (at once) that listening to others often seems like a challenge (perhaps because we don’t even know how to listen to ourselves).

Create the conditions for better listening.  Stop and make time to listen with all of your physical senses, and also actively practice putting judgement aside and get to the feelings and perspective of the speaker.

Why are they saying what they are, and what do they need from you?  Often, it’s simply to be heard.


Why is Talking So Hard?

What if i’m wrong?  What if she gets mad at me?  …I might feel badly afterwards.

We resist the DEMAND that we talk out loud about our concerns, needs and commitments.  So often the need for safety and calm rather than storm overrides the demand that good open, honest and direct communication will provide relief and a chance to move forward.

Let’s make practicing honesty and communicating our needs, and simply what we think–even if we might not make everyone (even ourselves) happy–a part of our team training.  Start with the coach.


Moments That Matter

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.