By Dawn Redd-Kelly, Head Volleyball Coach at Beloit College.
This article and other helpful coaching tools can be found at Coach Dawn Writes
Sometimes social media gets a bad rap for being a time sucker, which it can be. But most times, I find good stuff there. Whether it be a good leadership article, a timely motivational quote, or (like this time) a great tweet from team building expert Jeff Janssen.
How can we be successful coaches? Or maybe a better way to put it is how can we measure, at the end of the season or school year, that we’ve been successful? Janssen has some ideas.
9 requirements of success:
- Purpose: Why do you coach? As I mentioned in my another post, loving the sport isn’t your purpose (it’s your passion)…why do you coach? Why do you have player meetings? And stress about your practice plans? Why do you watch so much film? What is my why? I believe that athletics creates better humans (I’m biased, I know) and I believe us coaches equip our athletes with the tools they’ll need to make the world a better place and I’m honored to have a part in it.
- Passion: Do you love your sport? Is there a fire in your bones for it? Then that will translate over to your players and they’ll be infected by your zeal.
- Perspiration: I feel like this is obvious, but you should be working hard, Coach. Like, really hard. You’ve got to work hard to create relationships with your players. You’ve got to work hard to know the different personalities on your team and how to motivate them. You’ve got to work hard to keep your team chemistry balanced.
- Plan: How will you handle the inevitable quarrels between teammates? How will you handle having to bench a starter? How will you prepare your team to be clutch at the end of a competition? How will you make sure they’re ready for post-season?
- Patience: Can you wait for your “potential player” to bloom? Can you try different ways of teaching your leaders how to lead? Can you trust the process?
- Persistence: I think it’s a great idea to write down your coaching goals. That way, when you hit the inevitable speed bump, you won’t be moved.
- People: Coaches don’t succeed alone. We need mentors and assistants. We need recruits to buy into what we’re saying. We need families who support the coaching staff in the background. We need an administration who’ll advocate for us.
- Principles: Do you want to be a win-at-all-costs coach? Do you want to sacrifice your values in order to win more games? I think a coach’s goal should be to win with honor.
- Perspective: My guess is our definition of success will change as we grow as coaches, as we gain a bit more life experience, and as we’re humbled by our profession.
It’s hard to feel successful. It requires a lot of work. Let’s get ready to put the effort in so that we can be whatever our version of success looks like!
And, here is a second post from Coach Dawn…
Creating Brave Players
Fear is the reason today is like yesterday.”—Leadership Freak
That quotation sucker punched me! Our goal as coaches is to create an atmosphere where our athletes feel comfortable taking risks and are brave in the face of fear. Those who aren’t involved in athletics may scoff, but the fear is real when the bases are loaded and coach doesn’t have another pitcher warming up. The fear is real when it’s game point and the server is walking back to the endline in volleyball. And the fear is real when the fourth runner in a relay receives the baton at the same time as an opponent.
Here are three things we can do right now to crush fear on our teams:
- Stop saying crunch time is the same as the beginning of a competition. One of the reasons we believe certain players are “clutch” is that they execute late in the game, in pressure filled situations. Yet we, as coaches, continue to say things like: the scoreboard doesn’t matter. Yet…it does! Our players are watching time tick away and their heartrates are increasing. Our players are watching the opponent create a bigger and bigger gap in the score…and it’s starting to feel like the game is getting away from them. I think it’s better to acknowledge that pressure and not be afraid of it, but welcome it and give your athletes tools to handle what the scoreboard is saying to them.
- Celebrate effort. Each day we have an opportunity to fill our athlete’s reserves with success. I know Yoda says, “do or do not, there is no try”, but I believe in applauding the process, not necessarily the result. So if a player hustles to close a block or dig a ball—even if they aren’t successful in their attempt—I’m going to get fired up about the effort. It’s risky to go all out (what if they fail?), so we need to cheer those players who are willing to flop…because they believe they’ll eventually succeed.
- Be intentional about making our yesterdays. Today is tomorrow’s yesterday. What are you going to do today to put your athletes in a position to draw on their bravery reserves? Decide what your focus of the day/week/month is going to be and make it happen! If your focus is tangible (we need to convert more turnovers into points), then devote the majority of practice time to it. If your focus is intangible (your team needs to be teamier), then design drills that bring that skill to the forefront.
I can’t think of a sport that doesn’t require its athletes to be willing to take risks. Those risks could be failing in front of their friends and family, it could be letting their teammates down…but it could also be succeeding when they weren’t entirely confident they would. There’s a saying that says, “fortune favors the brave”. Sure, our athletes could fail, but they certainly won’t succeed if they’re unwilling to be brave and take a risk.