In times of uncertainty, it’s important that we make sure the competitive fire stays hot. If there’s not an opponent right before you make that opponent yourself. You always win if you’re striving to be better. If you don’t have a clear direction to point your competitiveness, create one. There are a lot of directions this can go and still be beneficial for you. The weight room, the treadmill, a friendly competition with a friend. Just don’t let the fire die down because there’s nothing to “burn” in your immediate future. It should stay hot and prepared to be unleashed on whatever you need it for when the opportunity arises. It’s not something you want to try to get burning again when you need it.

I believe that one of the most effective ways a coach can improve is to remove anger from his coaching tool box.  Before this statement makes you angry and you click on to something else, hear me out.  You’ll often hear players say things like the following:

  1. If I miss practice, coach will be mad.
  2. If I take that shot, coach will be mad.
  3. If I’m late, coach will be mad.

While it is great to have your players want to avoid making you mad, it would be much more beneficial to teach them WHY it makes you “mad”.  Why does missing practice, bad shot selection, and being late make you mad?  What is the principle that’s being violated mean to the team? If we can clearly articulate our standards and have them be truly value driven, we can increase our ability to teach and instruct and also be more likely for our players to be able to transfer those lessons in to their life after they move on from our teams.  You’ll also save yourself a TON of grief when every poor decision has a clear consequence that’s set before hand so they know that “anger” isn’t the thing to worry about.  You’re late, you do X after practice.  You shoot that shot, you’re likely to sit down.  You’re not “mad”, you’re holding them to standards that make sense for the group and have been clearly taught and explained.   Reserve anger for when it is truly appropriate and there will undoubtedly be those moments.  I’ve tried to keep a running list of things that make me “mad” as a coach and see if I can remove the emotion and just transfer it to a consequence that’s simple and clear.  When you feel it coming on you can ask:

  1. Does this really matter?
  2. Have I clearly taught what is expected?
  3. How can I hold the standard and maintain the relationship?

Life’s easier when anger isn’t a built in part of every day you show up to work together.  Just some thoughts I hope helps us have a happier and less angry season!!

kick practice

Every so often in life you hit something you never expected and there is no clear path to the next step. If you’ve run up against such a challenge, here are a few thoughts and phrases that have continued to come to mind.  Maybe they’ll be helpful to you when you face something similar.

1. Next Best Action
2. Future Focused
3. Service Minded
4. Let your words build rather than destroy.
5. Hug those you love a lot.
6. Don’t let bitterness cross our doorway.
7. Give 0 energy to things I can’t control.
8. Is it in my power to change something?
9. NO BCD.  Blame/Complain/Defend. You need all the energy you can get for the next step.  I’m responsible for my attitude and response.
10. What is before you matters more than what’s behind.  There’s no changing the past.
11. Do no harm.
12. Head up/shoulders back.  Circumstances can impact you but they do not define.
13. Count your blessings.  They are everywhere.
14. Sometimes the things that happen to you happen for you.  Be looking for the message.
15. You find out who your friends are and you are lucky to have them.
16. Trying times make you better or bitter.  That’s largely up to you.
17. Lean on those who have offered a shoulder.  You don’t have to carry things alone.
18. Seeking help isn’t weakness; it’s strength.
I’ll no doubt struggle to apply the above list myself, but it’s what I keep coming back to.  Thanks for listening.

You often hear of those that have had great successes having at one time experienced great failures.  The maxim that you have to go through the bad to experience the good is one we often repeat to our players and to ourselves.  While the truth that hard times are to be expected to set up the good is one we should accept and allow to give us patience, it shouldn’t numb us to examining what our part is in the hard times we may be facing.  Hard work is a given but hard times may be caused or at least prolonged by things completely within our control.  If you got under a weight on the bench you couldn’t get up, laying there under it isn’t going to change that fact. It will take time, discipline, and WORK on our behalf to be able to come back to it and move that obstacle.  It’s not just our job to ENDURE the hard stuff, it’s our job to work to get out of it by growing our skills, strength, knowledge, and character.  Will we go through hard times?  Yes.  Will we grow through them?  Well, that’s more up to us than we often realize.

During a workout on the beach recently I had several thoughts come together on prayer in an unexpected way.  It’s well-known that there’s something magestic in watching dolphins be themselves when you have the time and opportunity.  It reminded me of a few truths related to our prayer lives
  1. Just because you know it’s there doesn’t mean you now where it will be seen next.  I tried to time the patterns of those I watched assuming intervals and directions would be fairly consistent.  At times this was the case but often times they were nowhere to be found.  God’s timetable and our own are often not the same.  As frustrating as this is, it makes the time’s we do see His work that much more special.
  2. Expect something big when you least expect it.  While most of the time is spent seeing just a fin or occasional tail slap, sometimes, you get a full jump.  You have to be looking for it.  God can take a prayer you haven’t seen answered for so long you’ve stopped asking and show you it was never off His radar.
  3. It’s easier to see when you’re not by yourself.  9 of 10 times I see them either with a partner or in a group..  Sharing our prayers with others gives us strength.
There are more that I could share but that’s enough for now.  Hope you can enjoy this perspective the next time you’re blessed with this experience.

It was early morning. Nof the kind where you’d expect to find any trouble, but trouble I found. While listening to a podcast on controlling your response to events outside your control the speaker said a great time to test yourself is in traffic. Point taken. Moving on or so I thought. Within a minute of hearing this on my way to a camp down a winding, curvy, double lined road. I pulled up behind a gang of 12 bikers. 10 speed style. No where to safely pass and alternative route would have been longer. Sometimes God knows right what we need and when. Response controlled. Bikers were safe. It was a slow and painful drive but I was thankful for the preparation.

There is a constant battle between any leader and those they lead.  It’s how much is the leader doing vs how much the team is doing?  Getting this line where it should be is a great challenge for a coach and should be the goal of the team as well.  If you spend time in the weight room you’ve always got those “no spot” guys.  The ones who will never take any help under any amount of weight.  This causes the them to stay within what they already know they can lift and to not achieve gains as quickly as they would if they really maxed out.  You also have those that always want a spot on just about every set and rep.  They will also not achieve their maximum potential because they’re looking for a helping hand too early and too often.
We need our teams to be in the middle.  To have the pride and competitiveness to do all that’s within their power to do in order to maximize their growth while having the humility to know that they can’t reach the top without someone to take them past where they currently are.  Some coaches do too much for their teams.  They coach every screen, pass, and read.  Others don’t do enough.  They don’t scout, cover opponent tendencies, or make any adjustments in game to help their players excel.
We must know what they can do, what they can’t, and have the relationships, skills, and energy to make the difference.
Allowing a team to give less than they’re capable is a coach’s biggest fear. Being asked to give more than they’re capable is a player and team’s biggest frustration.  I believe we should always be searching for that line as it’s a place always on the move.  To have the leader have to carry more than they should weighs them down and detracts from their ability to do the real heavy lifting that takes the team to the top of who they could be.spotter