My first trip as a head coach was a disaster. We were to travel 90 minutes for a day of competition. Twenty kids, a few rowing shells, for several events. Very simple in the big scheme of things. I was so wrong.
- I had ordered the team lunches, but for the wrong day.
- I had requested transportation, but had neglected to get gas money.
- We were departing at 7am, but I ignored major road construction that added an hour to our drive.
We arrived late, athletes got hungry, and I had to borrow gas money for the trip home.
All of these hassles could have been prevented if I had just listened to John Morgan, our assistant AD, who had graciously offered his help a week prior. Instead of accepting his coaching I told him, “I got this.”
The truth became crystal clear — I didn’t have it.
Our Confidence Bubble
Because of who we are and what we do, we surround ourselves with a protective layer of confidence so we can survive in situations like these:
- You call time out with 4-seconds left and down by three, and all eyes are on you for the answer.
- You decide who starts, who plays, and who doesn’t.
- You tell a struggling athlete how to improve.
- You select the best direction for your program.
- You discipline a disruptive athlete.
For any of that to work, you have to be confident. Confident in your skills, your abilities, your intelligence and your presence. The tricky part – your confidence can be your downfall.
- book: Confidence: How Much Do You Really Need And How To Get It – Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic
- article: Top Of Their Game – Mike Davenport
Old Coach – New Tricks
I didn’t want to ask for help way back when. Didn’t want to look dumb, wimpy, lacking confidence. You see how well that worked for me. After that debacle, I decided if I was going to coach for a profession I had better act like a professional.
I did a quick mental survey and in every area of my life the professionals I counted on made it their focus to get better. My doctor, dentist, mechanic, insurance rep all knew there would be times in their job when “they don’t got it” but they would get coaching to help them “get it.” So did the local librarian, the traffic cop, Waffle House cook and Southwest pilot.
They were coachable. Why should I be any different?
It was an uncomfortable realization, but I made it my mission to learn how to do my job better. Today, I ask for coaching all the time — and I am a much better coach for it.
I struggle with recruiting, so I ask our lacrosse coaches, who are stellar recruiters, what I can do to improve.
Our men’s bball coach, in the midst of losing a heated contest, showed enormous grace and thoughtfulness.I ask him how he did that. (I so want to be able to do that someday.)
- Article: 5 Ways To Get Better At Asking For Help – Wayne Baker
But none of this is easy, because coaches don’t need coaching — right?
In today’s crazy world of coaching sports we are expected to know it all, be able to do it all, can fix it all. That’s setting coaches up for trouble. We and others can get dinged-and-dented by this assumption.
Being a coach requires that we ooze “I got this,” but there are plenty of times when we don’t. There are two true messages here.
First, coaches, like anyone, can benefit from coaching.
Second, the speed of life dictates that our efforts to improve should be a daily adventure.
An example, Friday I had to ask my assistant coach and one of our captains to coach me on Snapchat. Personally, I don’t want to use it, yet professionally I need to know about it. The process of admitting I didn’t know something and being coached by people 40 years younger than me was halting — and fun — at the same time.
Action You Can Take
Here’s the deal, I applaud anyone who says, “Okay, I’ll coach.” It’s a gutsy step.
I give a Standing-O to the coach who then says, “But I’ll need coaching along the way.”
And I’ll put on my Jumbo-tron the coach who has been in the trenches for 5 years or more and realizes that he needs to improve, and then takes action to get coaching.
So Coach, how could you use coaching? A simple plan might look like this:
- Get a vision, and keep it clear.
- Put your pride in a box, and bury it 117 feet deep in the backyard.
- Calculate your struggle-area.
- Ask for help.
- Turn off the outside noise that is not helpful (ahem, most social media).
- Listen. Really listen. Deep down listen to the person who is trying to help you.
- Take action.
An even simpler plan would be to read a blog post like this by Nick Morgan, or book like this, by John Wooden. There might be value, but as you and I both know the human interaction of coaching excels learning to a much higher level.
- Article: Are You Coachable? The Five Steps To Coachability – August Turak
I Need Coaching
Let’s turn the table to me for a moment …
- I have a vision what I want to do with CoachingSportsToday.
- I am putting my pride in a box, and just buried it (figuratively) 117 feet in the back yard.
- Now, I’m asking you for help … how can I make this site, this effort, of more value to you? What can I do to help you.
- I’m starring at the computer screen, waiting for your email ; )
Let’s be coachable together, okay?
[Click here to listen to the audio version.]
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Coach well, we need you!