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Friday, August 15, 2014

Random Rant on Coaching

Fall is definitely feeling here, which means my annual mood has arrived as well.  The mood... Not sure what it's called. I'm a little nit-picky, my standards are on alert, and I'm pretty quick to address any and all areas of concern and attempt to do so, again w high standards.  I hope this doesn't read all "uppity," but I think it's something we all need to do, address our standards, assess ourselves, and raise our standards.  If we're not sticking to a core set of beliefs, of rights and wrongs with the intent to help and better people... What are we doing?

(Sidenote: I've been without internet for a couple days, thank you Time Warner for the excellent service, so I'm writing this on my iPhone.  Please excuse any typos or incorrect autocorrects that slip by).

1) I'm not very confident the best coaching candidates are teachers anymore.  At one time, yes, but not now.  I think there are too many angles, too much politics.  A coach can't be honest and complete if he's worrying about being undermined by the principle or another member of the faculty and unfortunately, it happens much more than you know.  I was part of a staff once that needed a serious overhaul in their strength & conditioning department. So I volunteered to run the off-season... For free.  The "staff," decided they had to go w the guy the school hired, who had zero lifting/training experience and recvd his cert at a weekend seminar, but in going a him "it would create less waves."  Was a decision made there to benefit the kids and the team?  Or to appease the AD and the board?
If a school wants to have good coaches, they need to have a better interview process, better pay and then observe from a distance.  Once the trust is there, step away and let the coach, coach.  I've worked w too many coaches who made decisions based on a conversation they thought they would have if they decided "x," over "y."

2) The role of the coach is very, very underrated.  I think it's most effective when there's some distance, to follow up my above point.  The kids already deal w family and teachers, those avenues are covered.  When the kids have another route, an alternate method of communication and expression, in an actual arena they enjoy (athletics), the opportunity for truth and expression thrive and blossom.  Many, many times I've know I was in the middle of a talk that just didn't happen anywhere else.  On the field w the guys, there's an honesty, a genuine innocence that is often lost in the chaos of their usual adolescent lives.  Being an open and honest communicator can change lives.

3) Too many coaches/parents/teachers are too worried about being cool.  They want to be the cool teacher, the cool mom, the cool coach that the kids can swear in front of and talk trash about othe adults and be disrespectful.   
The level of professionalism has fallen off greatly over the last 20 years.  The things I've heard coaches say, my coaches never would've said, or at least not out loud or in front of us.  There's no place in sports for an adult coach to unnecessary profanity. Yes, there may be a moment where a very timely "bullshit," can help strike a point home, but this language should never be used as common communication.

4) Coaches love to preach about standards but few challenge themselves to raise their own.  I never understood coaches who preach living a healthy life while walking around 150lbs over weight.  I completely understand the issues involved and the struggles we go through, remember what I do for a living, I'm just saying this person shouldn't be the one running conditioning drills or making decisions for pregame dinner. 

5) A lot of coaches, coach with their "dad," on their shoulder or someone in their ear... Stop worrying about pleasing someone else and develop your own voice.  Don't be an imitation.  Be you.  If you succeed while perfecting your imitation... Will there be any satisfaction in that?
Trust me, I went through this.  My first years, I was a mix of myself w a good dose of my coach and it took me a long time to just become ME.  Sometimes I'm right, sometimes I'm wrong, but it's me and I'd rather be wrong being myself than right being someone else. 

6) Dont be afraid to ask for help.  If you're in over your head, get help.  If you can't do the job, there's no shame in removing yourself or stepping back.  Again, this is a very valuable position, often w the responsibility of helping raise 10-100 young men and women, it's not your hobby, it's a profession. 

7) Don't encourage or promote macho, alpha dog bullshit.  Encourage empathy.  It's greatly missing in sports and in schools.  Your team, under your guidance can have a positive impact on the entire school and community.  Do it.  Make an impact.  

8) Knowing a sport well doesn't make you a coach.  Being great at screaming from the stands doesn't either.  You have to care for the welfare of kids and their future, not necessarily who they are now but who they'll be down the road.  If you have a great player, but his grades are aweful or he/she's in trouble off of the field/court, and you ignore that, you're not doing your job.   
Too many guys/gals are in the position to fulfill their own ego and not really doing the job.  In most cases I'd say "that's ok, you have to have the bad w the good," but not here.  The job is too important, I said at the top that's undervalued.  I know A LOT of people, I've read about 1000's of people that wouldn't be where they are without their coach stepping in off the field.
(To be honest, that's the spark that's lit my ass up recently.  I'm reading a book about a coach I forgot about... A coach I wrote off too soon... A guy that changed millions of lives, millions... Across the world, literally.  I'll write on this later).

9) It's not your hobby, it's your profession.  Don't just do it for the extra $3500. Don't just do it because you think it's cool.  Do it because your good, do it because you can reach kids and having value to offer.  It's not about X's and O's, it's not about wins and losses and playoffs, it's all about the kids.  It's about teaching life lessons while using these sports as our analogies. 
Both in coaching linebackers and training in the weight room, it's all about finding those parallels where i can draw lines between the now and how this will come into play in 5, 10, 2( years from now.  We talk about effort, finishing drills, paying attention the details, having passion and enthusiam, being a great teammate, being a great student, and having goals and vision.  Imagine how powerful this young student-athlete will be if they're mindful and practicing that above list...
Effort, finish the drill, attention to detail, passion and enthusiasm, great teammate, great student, goal driven.  That looks to me like the blue print for an awesome husband/wife, mother/father, business owner/employee, student/athlete.  
What I'm saying is, if all your time is wrapped up in coaching your starters to get that W and you forget all those moments with your entire team (ya coach, you need to coach the kids that aren't so good as well), then you're doing the school and the community a disservice.  
I've always looked at every coaching job as though I work for the families, the school and the city, because even though the paycheck comes from the board, the results of my efforts with the kids will effect everything they encounter now and in the future. 

Coach with:
Intelligence
Integrity
Humility
Patience
Empathy
Professionalism
Coach like it's your kid, your brother or sister.  Coach like your talking to yourself.  Teach them everything they'll need to know to be a successful, respectful member of this world.  
I have two daughters and I think "I'm effecting people that will encounter my daughters one day..." Think about that.  You're coaching kids that will deal w your kids or your mom or sister... What kind of impact are you having?