RSS
 

Coaches Corner: Four Things To Think About When Considering A New Job

23 Apr

new jobsource

Kelly Sheffield believes in where he is right now. He believes that he can win at the University of Wisconsin and he believes he can convince talented volleyball players to join him there. I’m sure you’re thinking, “Well, who wouldn’t believe in a Big Ten school?” True enough, but his move to Wisconsin and the elite levels of volleyball wasn’t, in my opinion, a no-brainer. He was very successful at his previous institution and that success showed no signs of waning.

So I asked him about it. What advice would he give to coaches who think they’re ready to take that next step? How did he know the time was right to leave the comfort of his successful situation for the unknown of Wisconsin?

Before Sheffield answered, he was sure to give me a parenthetical note: If you’re a new coach and just trying to break into the coaching ranks…take any job. Just start coaching, you haven’t earned the right to be picky.

Are you ready to take another job?

  • Be honest with yourself. Coaches have to be honest about what will make them happy and not just do what they’re supposed to do. The move has to be good for you, your family, and your career.
  • Do you believe in your potential new location?   Will your boss advocate for you? Will the institution fund success or mediocrity? Can you see success in your mind’s eye or do you view the job as a stepping stone?
  • What goals does the administration have for the program? If you sit down in your interview and lay out how you can bring a conference/national championship to the institution and then the folks interviewing you say they just want a team above .500, you have different goals. With a major difference in objectives, you will be destined to figuratively bang your head against a wall.
  • How will your working relationship with your direct boss play out? They are the folks who will advocate for you and your program. There’s a finite amount of money within athletic departments and your boss has to be on your side when it comes to program needs.



Good luck to those of you thinking of making a location, or maybe even career, change. Hopefully, these words of wisdom can help clarify your decision.

Check out the Sheffield series:
Coaches Corner: Kelly Sheffield
Coaches Corner: Get Comfortable Being Uncomfortable
Coaches Corner: What Does Enthusiasm Look Like?
Coaches Corner: The Roles Of Player And Coach


Join me in a series of interviews with successful coaches.  I believe what we learn from our coaching peers can be applied to our teams, our recruiting efforts, and how we behave as professionals. These interviews will be less Q & A and much more philosophical in nature, keep coming back to see who I’m talking to and what they’ve got to say!

 
Comments Off

Posted in Coaches Corner, Coaching career

 

Coaches Corner: The Roles Of Player And Coach

21 Apr

playercoachsource

As I mentioned before, I’m a Badger alum, so I watch their volleyball team with a more attentive eye than other programs.  Because I know the type of team Kelly Sheffield inherited, I am more than amazed at the turnaround he spearheaded.  So I asked him about some of the critical things he and his coaching staff did that helped to create a much more successful team.  Check out what he had to say.

The coach’s role

  • Consistency.  Sheffield says his team should never worry about what kind of mood he’s in.  Monday’s the same as Thursday, after a win is the same as after a loss.
  • Knowledge.  I think it goes without saying that we’ve got to know what we’re talking about and staying up to date on the latest training methods.
  • Energy and enthusiasm.  That looks like lots of player feedback, coaches engaged with athletes…not chatting with one another.



The player’s role

  • Connect with teammates.  Sheffield expects high energy and enthusiasm from his athletes.  If he’s bringing it, he expects to see it from players as well.
  • Put personal traits aside.  He says that it’s tough to be an introvert in a team sport.  I wrote about some techniques to work with the introverts on your team a while back, you should check it out.  Studies say that 75% of folks are extroverts, so it’s easy to see why those traits are valued in leaders.
  • Be an active participant in their own rescue.  If something’s going wrong—on or off the court—the player has a responsibility to seek help.  Whether it’s coming in for extra reps on their own or, if it’s a classroom issue, seeking out tutors.  Whatever it is, coaches aren’t psychic, players have to help us out.



Success is sometimes a moving target, but these tips should help us all to start down the right path.

Check out the Sheffield series:
Coaches Corner: Kelly Sheffield
Coaches Corner: Get Comfortable Being Uncomfortable
Coaches Corner: What Does Enthusiasm Look Like?
Coaches Corner: Four Things To Think About When Considering A New Job


Join me in a series of interviews with successful coaches.  I believe what we learn from our coaching peers can be applied to our teams, our recruiting efforts, and how we behave as professionals.  These interviews will be less Q & A and much more philosophical in nature, keep coming back to see who I’m talking to and what they’ve got to say!

 
Comments Off

Posted in Coaches Corner, Team roles

 

Coaches Corner: What Does Enthusiasm Look Like?

18 Apr

enthusiasmsource

Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm.—Ralph Waldo Emerson

Maybe in your life, you get a chance to chat on the phone with incredibly successful Big Ten coaches, but it is quite the thrill for me.  Speaking to Kelly Sheffield, the head volleyball coach at the University of Wisconsin, was awesome.  He made me want to be seventeen years old again, so that I could pick the Badgers all over again.  He oozes enthusiasm.  For the sport.  For our profession.  For his athletes.  And for his institution.

I’d read an interview of his where he talked about his team practicing with intensity and enthusiasm.  So I asked him, what does that look like?  If I were to walk into his gym, what would I see that would make me think of those two qualities?

If you’ve been a reader for a while, you know that my man John Wooden was big on enthusiasm.  In fact, it was one of the cornerstones of his Pyramid of Success.  I’ve been on the enthusiasm bandwagon for a while now and it was nice to have a big-time coach affirm that I’m on the right track.

What tangible qualities does enthusiasm produce?

  • From the players: Connection.  He’s not just talking about hanging out and having fun with one another…it’s more than that.  It happens when there’s a mistake in a drill. The players must immediately connect so that it doesn’t happen again.
  • For the fans: Inspiration.  I went to a major Division One volleyball game a few years ago and the place was electric.  The students were fired up, the band was rocking, and the teams were playing at an absolutely amazing level…the energy was palpable.  A few years later, I went to watch that same institution play and it was crickets in their gym.  The players were flat so, in response, so was the crowd.
  • From the coaches: Passion.  I’m going to talk about this in the next post, but coaches have to bring consistent energy.  If I walked into Sheffield’s gym, I’d see engaged coaches who are actively working with their athletes, not just standing there observing.



Clearly skill and knowledge are important, but enthusiasm can unlock the door to bigger and better things for our athletes.

Check out the Sheffield series:
Coaches Corner: Kelly Sheffield
Coaches Corner: Get Comfortable Being Uncomfortable
Coaches Corner: The Roles Of Player And Coach
Coaches Corner: Four Things To Think About When Considering A New Job

Join me in a series of interviews with successful coaches.  I believe what we learn from our coaching peers can be applied to our teams, our recruiting efforts, and how we behave as professionals.  These interviews will be less Q & A and much more philosophical in nature, keep coming back to see who I’m talking to and what they’ve got to say!

 
Comments Off

Posted in Coaches Corner, Team chemistry

 

Coaches Corner: Get Comfortable Being Uncomfortable

16 Apr

Reaching Full Potential Speedometer Tracking Goalsource

“Reaching your potential can’t ever be comfortable.”
—Kelly Sheffield, Head Women’s Volleyball Coach, University of Wisconsin

I read an interview with Sheffield where he said he expects his players to immerse themselves in the process of getting better and I loved that phrase.  There’s ownership required from the player and a level of expectation set from the coach.  And that’s how we got to the quotation I put at the beginning of the post.  Surely, we all want our players to reach their potential, but the process of getting better is oftentimes harder than our athletes think it will be.

So how do we get them there?

First things first, they’ve got to buy what we’re selling.  Sheffield was in a different position with his team, because he was in his first year with them.  But I think we should always remind our athletes about those things that we hold in high esteem…whether we’re in our first or twenty-second year.

  • What is your vision?  This could be a goal of winning the conference or it could be a GPA goal you have for your team.
  • What culture does your program have?  I just got back from evaluating a player at a tournament.  After seeing what I needed to see from her, I got caught up in watching another court.  The players weren’t engaged…with each other or the coach.  As a matter of fact, they seemed to hate the sport of volleyball!  That’s a culture and it has been created. Since we’re in charge, let’s be sure not to create this sort of environment.
  • What kind of coach are you? Do You! as Russell Simmons says and own it.  If you’re fiery, contemplative, stats geek, tough, nurturing…whatever your style, be comfortable with it, because it’s the only way your players will know what to expect from you.



Once they’ve bought in, they’ve got to trust you.  They don’t need to trust you to start them.  Helping our athletes to reach their potential isn’t some sort of weird contract (if I work hard, then you’ll play me a lot), it’s truly for the benefit of the team…and by default, the benefit of the individual athlete.  Areas where we should be trusted include:

  • Do you believe in their skills?
  • Do you believe they can get better?
  • Do they believe you care about them as people?



Finally, they’ve got a choice to make.  As Sheffield says, our athletes can “make the decision to be extraordinary.”  It’s a daily decision our players must make.  To work hard.  To accept coaching.  To fail.  To keep trying.  If they make these decisions, they’ll be on the road to reaching their potential.

Want more Sheffield?  Check out:
Coaches Corner: Kelly Sheffield
Coaches Corner: What Does Enthusiasm Look Like?
Coaches Corner: The Roles Of Player And Coach
Coaches Corner: Four Things To Think About When Considering A New Job


Join me in a series of interviews with successful coaches.  I believe what we learn from our coaching peers can be applied to our teams, our recruiting efforts, and how we behave as professionals.  These interviews will be less Q & A and much more philosophical in nature, keep coming back to see who I’m talking to and what they’ve got to say!

 
Comments Off

Posted in Coaches Corner, Coaching strategy

 

Coaches Corner: Kelly Sheffield

14 Apr

kelly sheffieldsource

I’m excited to start a new series called Coaches Corner.  I’ve had the idea to connect with my fellow coaches in a meaningful way for a while now.  I finally decided to go for it.  I put my list of coaches I’d like to chat with together and started reaching out to them.  I’ll be talking to Division I, II, and III coaches.  Even club coaches and high school coaches.  If they’ve been successful, I want to know why!  In true Amazing Coach-style, each one of them was very open to having the conversation and no one “big timed” me.

I’m starting with Kelly Sheffield, the Head Women’s Volleyball Coach at the University of Wisconsin.  Full disclosure, I played at Wisconsin, so I’ve got a special place in my heart for the Badgers.  I didn’t play for Sheffield, though, (that would make me a whole heck of a lot younger than I am!) and was interested in how he managed to turn a floundering team into a runner-up in the championship game…in his first season!

UW finished 28-10 in Sheffield’s first season, an 11-win improvement from 2012, ranking second in both final national polls.  In his first year, Sheffield set the bar high. As the Badgers’ rookie coach, he led the upstart UW to the NCAA championship match, one of only three head coaches to lead their teams to the final match in their first seasons.

If you think his resume is impressive, wait until you see what he has to say about coaching!  Here are a few of the things he talked about.  Quite honestly, I could write ten posts about what he said, but I’ll restrain myself.

  • Everyone has a role, both player and coach.
  • On the importance of energy and enthusiasm.
  • Why players need to get comfortable being uncomfortable.
  • What to look for when you’re ready for the next job.



See you next time.  Be sure to bring a pen and paper, because you’ll want to take notes from all of these great coaches!

The Kelly Sheffield series
Coaches Corner: Get Comfortable Being Uncomfortable
Coaches Corner: What Does Enthusiasm Look Like?
Coaches Corner: The Roles Of Player And Coach
Coaches Corner: Four Things To Think About When Considering A New Job


Join me in a series of interviews with successful coaches.  I believe what we learn from our coaching peers can be applied to our teams, our recruiting efforts, and how we behave as professionals.  These interviews will be less Q & A and much more philosophical in nature, keep coming back to see who I’m talking to and what they’ve got to say!

 
Comments Off

Posted in Coaches Corner

 

Compilation Of Knowledge From Coaching Legends

11 Apr

lets recapsource

I had some fun during March Madness.  I wrote a bunch of articles based on the thoughts of basketball coaching giants.  Check them out and learn from the masters.

The John Wooden series:
John Wooden won ten national championships in twelve years at UCLA.  I’d say that gives him the right to define what success within a team construct looks like!  He was also a successful coach off of the court, we know that from the reverence his former players give him.  I’m sure all of us are trying to create those types of relationships and programs…so why not study the master?

John Wooden TEDtalk
Leading With Integrity
Wooden’s Three Team Rules
The Pressure Of Winning

The Mike Krzyzewski series
Coach K has been tremendously successful on many levels: spanning decades, working with collegiate athletes at Duke University, working with professional athletes during the Olympics…you name it, he’s done it.  So when someone with that sort of resume tells us what the fundamental qualities of effective teams are, we should listen!

5 Qualities That Make Every Team Great
Creating A Connected Culture
On The Value Of Hard Work

The Pat Summitt series
She’s got over a thousand wins with Tennessee basketball.  Over a hundred NCAA tournament wins.  Thirty Sweet 16 appearances. 18 Final Fours.  And eight national championship.  In her entire career (which started in 1974), she didn’t have a double digit losing season!  I think it’s fair to say Pat Summitt was an amazing coach.

Using Feedback As Motivation
How To Teach Leadership
Goal Setting According To Pat Summitt

The Tara VanDeVeer series
Tara VanDerveer has won over 900 basketball games, Pac-10 conference coach of the year ten times, and two national championships.  So she’s pretty good.  Check out these articles based on the Stanford basketball coach’s thoughts.

Is Your Best Athlete Your Best Leader?
The Two Sides Of Every Coach

Enjoy!

 
Comments Off

Posted in Coaching philosophy

 

The Two Sides Of Every Coach

09 Apr

two sidessource

Over the years, the image of VanDerveer has taken two forms, one warm and engaging, one not so much.  Her defining yin and yang appears to be toughness and tenderness. She demonstrates the former as needed; it’s the latter that people close to her often mention.—Game On

Tara VanDerveer has won over 900 basketball games, Pac-10 conference coach of the year ten times, and two national championships.  So she’s pretty good.

The quotation above highlights the necessities of coaching, whether you coach men or women.  You’ve got to be able to bring the hammer, but you’ve also got to care.  I’ve seen young coaches miss the boat on this one, trying too hard to be their player’s friend that they are unable to effectively coach their team.

3 types of young coaches

  • Young coach ignores obvious problems in order to be “fun”, “cool”, or whatever.
  • Young coach is sometimes super “fun” in practice and other times oddly strict…their teams don’t know what to expect.
  • Young coach is distant with players, not worried about being “fun”, but not able to connect with players on a personal level.



I’m pretty sure when I was first starting out, I chose the last of those options.  Fortunately or unfortunately, I’ve never been burdened by the desire to be perceived as “fun”, so I didn’t care that my team thought I wasn’t “cool”.  In my opinion, that’s the best option of those available, but I do think I could have worked harder to show my team I cared about them off the court.

3 qualities of tough coaches

  • Demand consistent effort levels from their athletes,
  • Set a high bar for excellence within their program,
  • Challenge their athletes to embrace the discomfort of getting better.



3 qualities of caring coaches

  • Let their players get to know them,
  • Take an interest in their players personally,
  • Stay in touch with former players.



Both sides of a coach are necessary.  You don’t want to be a soft touch whose athletes take advantage of them, but you also don’t want to be so hard on them that they don’t enjoy their sport anymore.  Finding the right balance is the key to a successful coach-player relationship.

 
Comments Off

Posted in Coaching philosophy, Team chemistry

 

Is Your Best Athlete Your Best Leader?

07 Apr

best leadersource

When your best players are your hardest workers, you have the chance to be very good.
—Tara VanDerveer

When your best players aren’t vocal leaders.  This is a common problem.  I don’t know how many times I’ve commiserated with another coach about a player who has out-of-this-world talent, but won’t speak up in practice or games.  I’ve tried telling the player that the team needs them to speak up, I’ve tried explaining that the burden of being the best is that their teammates look up to them, I’ve tried it all.  Usually it doesn’t work.  If that person gets picked as a captain (which they usually do), I try to pair them up with someone who will actually talk.

When your best players undermine you.  This one is rare…but it happens.  Your best player smiles in your face, “yes, Coach” and all that, but is tearing you down behind your back.  I’m not talking about the regular, “It sucks that Coach made us run today, that’s crap!”, all players say things like that.  I’m talking about the player who questions your coaching technique, coaching moves, or coaching decisions.  As annoying as it is for players to come to us with questions about those things, it’s catastrophic when they do all of those things in secret.  Even worse, we usually don’t find out about it until it’s too late.

When your best players are lazy.  This is the rarest of them all.  Can they really be your best player if they’re lazy?  Semantics.  Your best player (stats leader in important categories) doesn’t go hard in practice or games, but still manages to be better than her teammates.  You can try to guilt them into working harder by telling them their teammates look up to them.  You can try to force her into exertion through physical punishment, but if they’ve gotten this far by being lazy…they can trick you into thinking they’re working hard.  No matter what your captain policy is (you pick, the team picks, combo), this person most definitely can’t have a leadership position on your team.

When your best players are your hardest workers.  Heaven has opened up and shined on you and your team.  Effort is catchy.  Hard work is catchy.  Desire is catchy.  Belief is catchy.  These players, these high energy/hard working types, infect the rest of the team with their energy.  Their teammates may walk into the gym after a tough day of class wanting to slack off, but this player just won’t allow it.  The team may be losing late in the game, but this player won’t let their teammates stop believing.  These players earn their teammates’ respect by the way they carry themselves each and every day.

Your best players are leaders, no matter what.  They may lead negatively or they may lead positively…but they are ALWAYS leading.  Be sure to have high-quality players in leadership positions on your team.

 
Comments Off

Posted in Leadership, Team chemistry

 

Goal Setting According To Pat Summitt

04 Apr

benefits of setting goals on blackboardsource

She’s got over a thousand wins.  Over a hundred NCAA tournament wins.  Thirty Sweet 16 appearances. 18 Final Fours.  And eight national championship.  In her entire career (which started in 1974), she didn’t have a double digit losing season!  I think it’s fair to say Pat Summitt was an amazing coach.

When I found this article from when she was coaching, I was immediately drawn to it, because goal setting is something I know is very important…but an area I think I can improve in.  Perhaps you’ll find some motivation from Summitt’s words as I did.

Be realistic              
Setting goals is incredibly important to success. But if you set a goal that seems impossible to achieve—if you go into a year saying your goal is to win the national championship—then you risk losing morale, self-discipline and chemistry if you falter early.

But aim high
Set a goal that stretches you, requires exceptional effort, but one that you can reach.

Let’s keep our egos in check, coaches
Summitt says the best way to motivate individuals to achieve team goals is to bring individual goals in line. She hasn’t achieved her goals by herself. Her players have achieved them, and she’ll be the first to tell you it was their hard work that led to all of her program’s accomplishments.

Ensure your team stays on course
Setting up a system that rewards you for meeting your goals and has penalties for failing to hit your target is just as important as putting your goals down on paper.

Appropriate goals ensure accountability
The only way to ensure you become a winner is to set goals every day, and hold yourself and your teammates accountable for reaching those goals.

Daily goal setting is something we should all add to our coaching repertoire, I think having small goals and successes each day can help our teams achieve their larger goals.

 
Comments Off

Posted in Goal setting

 

How To Teach Leadership

02 Apr

peer leadershipsource

Leadership is really a form of temporary authority that others grant you, and they only follow you if they find you consistently credible. It’s all about perception—and if teammates find you the least bit inconsistent, moody, unpredictable, indecisive, or emotionally unreliable, then they balk and the whole team is destabilized.—Pat Summitt

I’ve written before about the magic of embracing followers.  After all, can you really be a leader if you have no followers?  Does it matter that the coach calls a player “captain” if their teammates roll their eyes every time the “captain” says something?

In the quotation above, Pat Summitt gives us a blueprint for teaching our leaders to be credible captains.

5 qualities to teach team leaders

Consistent.  Imagine a captain who didn’t always work hard.  Yikes…that’s one bad captain!  The burden of being a leader means they have to give full effort every day.  Tough day in class? Gotta bring it in practice.  Best friend’s mad at them?  Still gotta bring it in practice.  Having an awful practice? Effort level has to remain high, gotta bring it!

Even-tempered.  Sport offers its participants a chance to practice moderating oneself.  In my opinion, athletes don’t get the chance to pout, complain, or give up.  We ask our athletes to embrace failure and not get too caught up in success.  That attitude requires a certain leveling off of emotions.

Predictable.  I coached a young lady long ago who was tremendously talented.  She was dynamic and athletic…a rare talent.  She was also full of surprises.  Sometimes she was the life of the proverbial party.  Other times she was withdrawn and sullen.  I never could figure her out.  Neither could her teammates.  This made her a poor leader.

Decisive.  There have been times in my career where I’ve pulled my captains aside and asked them a point-blank question.  It could be something like, “I think both Susie and Janie are about equal, who would you rather play with out there on the court?”  At that point, I don’t want any hemming and hawing, I need a decision.

Emotionally reliable.  Closely related to being a consistent teammate, the emotionally reliable player.  I actually looked up this phrase and landed on the Psychology Today webpage.  Emotionally reliable folks are able to self-regulate at a high level.  “Self-regulation is the ability to calm yourself down when you’re upset and cheer yourself up when you’re down.”  That sounds like a great leadership quality, right?  They don’t get too high, they don’t get too low.

These are all great lessons to teach our team captains as they navigate the murky waters of leading their peers.

 
Comments Off

Posted in Leadership