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Category Archives: Books

Book Review: Gender & Competition

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In 2000, I took my first collegiate head coaching job.  While I was fired up about coaching and volleyball…I was pretty clueless about what it took to be successful as a leader of young women.  That same year, I went to my coaches convention where Kathy DeBoer was the keynote speaker and it was an eye opening experience to say the least.   Her topic was “Improving the Competitiveness of Your Female Team” and she’s expanded that two-day seminar into a great book, Gender and Competition: How Men and Women Approach Work and Play Differently. Here’s a bit about her book:

The rundown: The book is filled with stories from her coaching days and missteps she made with some of her female players, but also stories from her time in athletics administration.  At the heart of the matter is a generation of female coaches who may not have had female coaches themselves who then try to coach as they were coached by men…and the utter disaster that follows. Of course I’d suggest that you read the book, but basically it comes down to women having different expectations from other women than they do from men.

That’s one side of the story.  The other side is how to motivate female athletes for greatness.  DeBoer says that culturally, young girls view winning and losing as opposite of the “closeness that females value” and avoid it in play activities.  As you read this, your eyes will be opened to the type of environment that you can create to help your female team embrace competition.

Recommended for: Coaches of female athletes…whether male or female.  It gives good insight into why our athletes are the way they are and what they need from us to push them to be great.

Not recommended for: People who insist that there aren’t gender differences, because that’s the basic premise of the book.  As DeBoer says, “until recently, it was not politically correct to think of women as different.  If you said women were equal, then they couldn’t be different.  The wonderful news is we can now say women are equal and different.  And that’s a huge and dramatic breakthrough.”

Great book and it’d make a great gift for the coach in your life…or for yourself to read over winter break.

 

Posted by on November 28, 2012 in Books

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Book Review: Outliers

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“The thing that distinguishes one performer from another is how hard he or she works.  That’s it.  And what’s more, the people at the very top don’t work just harder or even much harder than everyone else.  They work much, much harder.” –Outliers

The tagline of Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell is: The Story of Success.  I think that’s a topic of interest to most folks and coaches in particular.  I’ve got a story about a teammate of mine who is the definition of the opening quotation.

My teammate, let’s call her Susie, was an all-American at the University of Wisconsin, which was a top twenty-five team at the time.  She was the best, most skilled, and hardest working player that I knew.  She had aspirations beyond collegiate volleyball…Susie wanted to represent our country in the Olympics.  She talked to one of our assistant coaches who’d played on the national team about what she should do…and the coach told her to work harder.

I’m telling you, Susie was already the hardest working player on a nationally ranked team!  She was our best player, she was the undisputed leader, she was a baller.  But if she wanted to move to the next level, Susie needed to work harder.

And if we want to be better, we’ve got to work harder as well.  And so do our athletes.

The rundown:  Like Daniel Coyle talked about in The Talent Code, Gladwell identifies ten thousand hours as the magic number for success.  It’s not just ten thousand hours of casual practice…but motivated, focused, persistent practice.  We’ve probably all coached the athlete who gives up about twenty seconds after we’ve tried to teach her a new skill.  We’ve got to let her know that “success is a function of persistence and doggedness and the willingness to work hard for twenty-two minutes to make sense of something that most people would give up on after thirty seconds.”

Recommended for:  Coaches who want to get better and who want their athletes to get better.  I believe we all want to put ourselves and our players in the best position to excel and reach our highest potential.  This book will motivate us all to put in the work necessary to never have regrets about our achievement level.

Not recommended for:  Coaches who believe that hard work is all it takes to be successful.  While Gladwell talks about the ten thousand hour rule, he also mentions things that are out of our control that influence success.  Things like the month and year we’re born, the era in which we’re born (if I were a woman fired up about coaching a hundred years ago, I’d be out of luck), affluence or lack thereof, etc.

So, Susie didn’t make the Olympic team.  As I think back, I wonder what would have happened if she’d stuck with it, because she was almost at her ten thousand hours.  Gladwell says that it takes about ten years to reach that threshold…Susie stopped playing in year eight.  We didn’t know about this kind of stuff back then.

But we do now…let’s make sure we’re using the information that’s available to us.

If you love to read books, keep checking back as I talk about three books that are great for coaches, but not made for coaches:  The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell, How to Grow Leaders by John Adair, and Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell.

 

Posted by on April 30, 2012 in Books, Practice

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Book Review: How To Grow Leaders

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Whenever someone asks me about a great leadership book, I recommend this one…with a slight hesitation.  The author, John Adair, is quite proud of himself.  So, if you can get past how often he tells you he’s awesome…you’ll love it!  It’s full of great information.  I’ve already written three posts (linked at the end) about the book and I could easily write three more.

The rundown:  You have to get to the middle of How to Grow Leaders before the author talks about the actual growing of leaders:

  • Select good seed:  Choose natural leaders.
  • Prepare the soil: Does our team culture promote leadership growth?
  • Enrich the earth by fertilizing and watering: Coaches have to invest in leadership training to yield good leaders.
  • Rotate the crops:  Give your leaders multiple opportunities to lead and see where they thrive.
  • Let the fields lie fallow:  Just like real crops, leaders need time to rest so that they can continue to be fruitful.
  • Observe where plants thrive:  If we’ve got a few strong leaders, each of them will probably have a different area of strength…we can increase their success by just being more aware.
  • Prune the dead wood:  What worked with one leader may not work with another.  Pruning our leaders means getting rid of things that aren’t working.
  • Let the taproots go deep:  Dandelions have deep roots…which is why they keep coming back year after year.  We want our leaders to be consistent and reliable like those dandelions.


Recommended for:  Any coach who’s interested in leadership and leadership training.  There’s enough information here for three or four books.  I highly recommend it…with the caveat I mentioned before.  He’s got lots of lists, which make for easy reading.  He’s also got more in depth material with historical perspectives on leadership.

Not recommended for:  Coaches without a significant amount of time to digest the information.  This book is a meal, not an appetizer, so it requires time.

If you’re interested in reading more of what I’ve got to say about John Adair’s book, read: 7 Qualities Every Leader Must Have, The 3 Levels Of Leadership, and Create Effective Leaders Using This 5 Step Process.

If you love to read books, keep checking back as I talk about three books that are great for coaches, but not made for coaches:  The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell, How to Grow Leaders by John Adair, and Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell.

 

Posted by on April 27, 2012 in Books, Leadership

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Book Review: The Tipping Point

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“It is safe to say that word of mouth is still the most important form of human communication.”
–The Tipping Point

For those of us who make our living with our words, communication seems to be changing constantly.  Athletic departments and teams are rushing to put up Facebook pages and create Twitter accounts to stay up-to-date.  But it turns out that our (verbal) word still trumps all forms of social media…or so Malcolm Gladwell says in his book The Tipping Point.

The rundown:  The Tipping Point is about how epidemics start.  He talks about regular old epidemics of sickness, but his major focus is on social epidemics.  Like how certain books, cartoons, or clothes become popular.  In our youTube world, I suppose we’d say “viral” now to mean social epidemic.  For coaches interested in making an idea go viral on their team, this book could be helpful.

He identified three different types of people who are required for ideas to go viral: Connectors, Mavens, and Salesmen.

Connectors are people who operate in many different social circles and have a gift for bringing those folks together in a way that’s not awkward.  Mavens accumulate and share knowledge…they’re information brokersSalesmen are the folks who persuade us when we are unconvinced of what we’re hearing.

Recommended for:  Coaches who are interested in how teams work.  To me, Connectors, Mavens, and Salesmen are almost like personality types.  If we’ve got what we think is a great idea or we’re planning on changing some things around on our team, identifying these key people on our teams will help us get buy in from the rest of the team.

Not recommended for:  Folks who don’t want to have to stretch for coaching connections.  This isn’t a book about coaching or about sports.  It’s about how to make ideas go viral.  If you’re looking for quotations to put up in your locker room, then this isn’t the book for you.

I enjoyed The Tipping Point, it made me think about my communication with my recruits, my current team, my alumni…everyone.  Gladwell is a researcher with a gift of making tedious information more interesting.  This isn’t my favorite book of his, Outliers was a game changer for me, but I highly recommend this one as we think about how to get our ideas across to others.

If you love to read books, keep checking back as I talk about three books that are great for coaches, but not made for coaches:  The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell, How to Grow Leaders by John Adair, and Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell.

 

Posted by on April 25, 2012 in Books, Team chemistry

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These Books May Open The Door To Your Team’s Success

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I’m the first person to acknowledge that there are lots of folks who know a lot more about success, leadership, goal setting…or whatever thing it is that we try to impart on our teams.  Because of that, I read…a lot.  As a matter of fact, I just finished up a couple of books that blew my mind and I’m sure I’ll be writing about them on the blog soon.  Before I get to that, read about some books that I love and believe have made me a better coach.

Books + Coaches = Successful Teams

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The Talent Code
What would you think if you heard these three sentences:  “Greatness isn’t born.  It’s grown.  Here’s how.”?  You’d think:  I’ve got to find out how!  And that’s what I did.  Those sentences form the tagline for a great book, The Talent Code, by Daniel Coyle.  In his book, Coyle talks about three elements to creating greatness:  deep practice, ignition, and master coaching.

Put Your Dream To The Test
Every team starts out the year with high goals…things they’d like to have accomplished by season’s end.  What every team does not have is the desire, tenacity, and motivation to keep pursuing the goal when (cliché alert!) the going gets tough.  John Maxwell is a well-known speaker on leadership and goal setting, so I figured his book would be a great place to start.  Becoming a coaching sherpa and guiding our teams through the goal setting process can help them to accomplish individual and team goals put them on the path to having a successful season.

Coach Dawn’s Guide To Motivating Female Athletes
This is my book!  It’s a 56-page guide that will give you specific steps to increase the competitiveness of your female team.  It will show you why battling “girl drama” should be at the top of your list in order to dominate the competition.  Also, it has example after example from my coaching life, on how I’ve handled tough situations in the past.  If I know one thing about coaches, it’s that we want to be good at what we do.  And I know you want your athletes to be winners and have fun with the sport, this book could be just what you need to go to the next level.

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Gender & Competition—How Men and Women Approach Work and Play Differently
In 2000, I took my first collegiate head coaching job.  While I was fired up about coaching and volleyball…I was pretty clueless about what it took to be successful as a leader of young women.  That same year, I went to my coaches convention where Kathy DeBoer was the keynote speaker and it was an eye opening experience to say the least.   Her topic was “Improving the Competitiveness of Your Female Team” and she’s expanded that two-day seminar into this great book.

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B Is For Books: 5 Books That Made Me A Better Coach
I’m a book nerd…I love ‘em!  So much so that I put a summer reading list together every year to make sure that I get my reading fix in.  This post is from my A to Z series about books that have helped me over the years and I’m sure you’ll find them helpful as well.  There are so many books out there that will make us better coaches…these are my top five, but certainly not the only ones that have impacted my coaching life.

Let’s all agree to keep reading and keep learning so that we can be the best possible coach for our teams.

 

Posted by on January 27, 2012 in Books

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Free Motivating Female Athletes PowerPoint Download

After giving my presentation at the American Volleyball Coaches Association convention, many folks wanted a copy of the presentation…so many that I couldn’t actually answer all of the emails!

I’ve figured out, with a little help from friends, that setting up a link where you can download it for free would be the easiest (for me, at least) way to get it out to people.  So, click on the “add to cart” button below, and you’ll receive the presentation, Motivating Female Athletes, for free.

Add to Cart

Also, I wanted to remind you that I’ve got the ebook (Coach Dawn’s Guide to Motivating Female Athletes) for sale for $9.95…it comes with a Pyramid of Success presentation where you can listen to me talk about how I use the Pyramid with my teams.  It’s the AVCA presentation on steroids…if you like the free download, you’ll love the ebook!  Click here to find out more about that and you can click on the “add to cart” button below if you’d like to buy it.

Add to Cart

 

Posted by on January 3, 2012 in Books, Female athletes

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Building The Intangibles: Team Chemistry, Great Books, And More!

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While I’m sure you hang on my every word and can’t wait for the next Coach Dawn post to come out, I know that some of you may have been busy coaching during the A to Z series and could have missed a few posts.  So, I’m going to take the next few days to recap that series…hope you enjoy the review!

The A to Z series: Letters A thru E

The 3 A’s of Successful Teams.  Our athletes need three things in order to be successful…check out how we can define what success looks like for our athletes.

B Is For Books: 5 Books That Made Me A Better Coach.  Find out why I love Gender & Competition, The Talent Code, Quiet Strength, 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, and Wooden.  Great books!

C Is For Chemistry, Team Chemistry.  Ask any coach at any level, and they’ll tell you that the key to their success is their team’s ability to manage one another’s personalities, get along, and hopefully succeed as a unit.

The 4 D’s of Teamwork.  1st, define teamwork.  2nd, dedicate yourself to increasing teamwork.  3rd, delegate power to your assistants and captains.  4th, demonstrate what teamwork looks like to you.

E Is For Effective: Coaching More Than The Game.  What are the six areas where coaches need to be effective?  With recruiting, our athletes, administration, alumni, faculty, and work/life balance.  What to know more?  You should click the link above and you’ll find out!

Check back next time as I recap letters F through J.  See you then!

 

Posted by on January 2, 2012 in Books, Coaching career, Team chemistry

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B Is For Books: 5 Books That Made Me A Better Coach

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Please join me for a fun series.  My mission, and I’ve chosen to accept it, is to write a post based on each letter of the alphabet.  The English major inside of me is very excited about this project…and my inner nerd is even more fired up!  Keep checking back as I tackle the intangibles of sport…from A to Z.

I’m a book nerd…I love ‘em!  So much so that I put a summer reading list together every year to make sure that I get my reading fix in.  These are books that have helped me over the years and I’m sure you’ll find them helpful as well.  At the end of each section, I’ve got a link to buy the book.  I’m not making any money on it or anything…just making it easier for you to get your learn on!

Here are five books that I return to time and time again…and they never let me down.

Gender and Competition: How Men and Women Approach Work and Play Differently by Kathy DeBoer
I, like many female former athletes of my age, only played for male coaches.  So when I decided that I wanted to be a coach, I did it the only way I knew how…like a man.  The result?  Utter disaster.  Sound familiar?  Or are you a male coach who wonders why your female team isn’t “aggressive” enough?  I bet you’ll love this book because there are lots of good stories and tips in there.

DeBoer says that culturally, young girls view winning and losing as opposite of the “closeness that females value” and avoid it in play activities.  As you read this, your eyes will be opened to the type of environment that you can create to help your female team embrace competition.

Buy the book.

The Talent Code by Daniel Coyle
He had me at the tagline for the book:  “Greatness isn’t born.  It’s grown.  Here’s how.”  I’m sure we’ve all had those athletes who are pretty good, but we look at them and see who they could be if they just pushed themselves.  We challenge them to try new things, but they are perfectionists and hate making mistakes, so they don’t reach their potential.  They play it safe, they stay comfortable…they’re good, not great.

The whole concept of the book is that we are in control of our talent and our greatness…that we can work at it if we work in the correct manner:  “struggling in certain targeted ways—operating at the edges of your ability, where you make mistakes—makes you smarter.”  Reading through the book, we learn how to make this happen for our players.

Buy the book.

Quiet Strength by Tony Dungy
Unlike the first two books, this one is more biography than “how to”.  I think that the title of this book could have been “Quiet Confidence” as well.  Think about the inner strength and confidence Dungy must have had in himself and his way of doing things that he was able to buck the tradition and be a football coach on his own terms.  What an awesome lesson for us all to learn!

To have confidence in your calling as a coach when the results aren’t turning out how you’d like.  To have confidence in your coaching style and philosophy when others tell you that you can’t be successful using your methods.  The book details Dungy’s career from player to Super Bowl champion…and all of the ups and downs in between.  But the one thing that is a consistent theme throughout the book is his commitment to his coaching style.

Buy the book.

7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Franklin Covey
When I first got into the workforce, the company I worked for had a 7 Habits seminar right there in the office.  Over the course of three days, I learned how to be a professional and how to work well with others…I’d say that was a pretty impactful three day period!

The first three habits are all about us as individuals, the next three are about interacting with others, the final habit is for all of us to pursue a lifetime of learning…always looking to get better.  As you work through the book, the habits work to transform us from dependency to independence to interdependence. Interdependence means mutual reliance upon one another…or a “team”!  I’ve used this book as a captain’s training manual and also as a team book with pretty good success.

Buy the book.

Wooden: A Lifetime of Observations From On and Off the Court by John Wooden
So often when people talk about team chemistry or leadership or team dynamics, they seem to think, “Well, that’s great…if I have time to get to it.”  I think it’s partly because coaches understand the tangibles: setting up a practice plan, putting together drills, making corrections to specific behaviors.  I also think it’s partly because coaches don’t understand the ins and outs of those intangibles (and how to measure if we’ve been successful), so we tend to stay away from them.

But if we are to believe the Pyramid, then a successful team is built upon intangibles.  What Coach Wooden has brilliantly given us with his Pyramid is a way to measure the success of those intangibles.  Build these blocks of the Pyramid of Success into your practice plans and you’ll be well on your way to achieving your goals!  There’s more in this book than the Pyramid…but those are the pages of my book that are well worn.

Buy the book.

There are so many books out there that will make us better coaches…these are my top five, but certainly not the only ones that have impacted my coaching life.

 

Posted by on November 4, 2011 in Books

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These 2 Little Words Will Break Your Team Out Of Its Rut

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Practice better.

I’m sure when you read that title, you were thinking I had some brand spanking new technology or something that would catapult your team to greatness.  That’s not what I’ve got…I’m telling you to practice better.  But what does that mean?

According to Daniel Coyle, the author of The Talent Code, on his blog…practicing better is just a matter of following a four-step process.

How to practice better

Reaching & repeating.  Reaching means stretching our athletes to the outskirts of their abilities and repeating those reps…no “mindless” reps where skills are performed incorrectly or halfheartedly.  We’ve got to continually challenge our players to want more.  If they reach for a skill, even for just a portion of practice, then we’re making our team better.  If we sit down with our coaching staff before practice and make a point of demanding only correct actions from our teams, their brains may hurt…but they’ll be getting better!  I don’t know if you can ask for that kind of focused intensity for the entire practice, because I believe that scrimmaging and playing is a wonderful teacher as well.

Engagement.  Which is better?  Team A warms up at the beginning of practice and while they’re playing, they chat about their day, they connect with one another after being apart all day, and maybe even tell a few jokes.  Team B, on the other hand, gets half as many touches on the ball because their coach is roaming the gym, stopping and correcting as everyone plays.  Coyle would say Team B is going to get better quicker because they are getting multiple quality touches (and quality corrections) during the course of their warmup.  This will require that the coaches are engaged just as much as the athletes.

Purposefulness.  This means we can’t always practice a skill in a vacuum.  We’ve all had the player who’s a rock star in practice…she’s the queen of the drill.  But put her in a game/scrimmage situation (where she’s got to react to external influences, communicate with teammates, and make snap decisions) and she completely fades away.  We’ve got to have a sense of purpose to each drill.  That purpose isn’t just to get better at a skill, but to get better at what they’ll actually be doing…playing the sport!  Our practices should entail skill building, of course, but those skills should include learning to compete, learning to communicate, and learning to perform under pressure.

Strong, direct, and immediate feedback.  I’ve always seen my role as coach as one of diminishing importance…if I’m doing my job correctly.  When I first take over a team, or have a bunch of newbies, I’m constantly yapping because my goal is to equip them with answers to team problems.  Whether that problem is lagging team energy, not controlling the ball properly, or difficulty handling the pressures of the game.  As I’m with a team for a while, they start to self-correct, because they’ve been in that situation before and they can remember what I told them the last time.  My goal is that my teams are never confused about why things aren’t going according to plan.  They may not yet have developed the skills to properly affect change, but they know what needs to be done.

We spend most of our time in practices, let’s be sure to use them to our advantage!

Want to read more about The Talent Code?  Check out these posts:
The Secrets To Greatness Are Within Your Control
How To Start A Revolution (Or Motivating Your Team For Success)
Crafty, Smart, And Experienced: Follow The Ways Of The Master Coaches

 

Posted by on October 5, 2011 in Books, Practice

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Upcoming Ebook: Coach Dawn’s Guide To Motivating Female Athletes

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So…I’ve written a book!  After lots of correspondence with various coaches, I figured out that there’s a great desire to “figure out” the female athlete.

What Coach Dawn’s Guide To Motivating Female Athletes is all about

Coach Dawn’s Guide To Motivating Female Athletes is a 56-page guide that will give you specific steps to increase the competitiveness of your female team.  It will show you why battling “girl drama” should be at the top of your list in order to dominate the competition.  Also, it has example after example from my coaching life, on how I’ve handled tough situations in the past.

If I know one thing about coaches, it’s that we want to be good at what we do.  And I know you want your athletes to be winners and have fun with the sport, this book could be just what you need to go to the next level.

The information in the book is beyond what you’ll find here on the blog.  You won’t find this stuff anywhere, on my blog or elsewhere, in one place and in such detail.

How much will Coach Dawn’s Guide To Motivating Female Athletes cost?

Unlike the posts that are here on the blog, I will charge for the ebook.  How much?  $10.  Now before you start thinking that $10 is too much to spend on a PDF file, I want you to consider the quality of the information.  I think you’re getting it at a steal for only $10!

You can spend hours on the internet trying to find this information…but it’s not out there.  That’s why I wrote the book!

Plus, isn’t your time worth more than $10?

You’ve got practice plans to write, teams to scout, and video to study.  Why make more work for yourself?  You’ve already got a job…so don’t add scouring the internet for tips on coaching female athletes to your to-do list.

Because it’s a PDF, once you purchase Coach Dawn’s Guide To Motivating Female Athletes, you’ll be able to download it and read it that same day!  You can begin putting the ideas to work immediately.

Here are the chapter titles:

1.      Motivating the Female Athlete (with four subcategories)

2.      The Myth That Is “Girl Drama” (with three subcategories)

3.      Why This Is Important (with one subcategory)

Book excerpt from the introduction:

I’d love for you to see this book as a conversation between us.  There will be times when you’re reading this and you will feel affirmed because it’s something that you’re already doing.  There will be other times, though, where you feel as if I’ve put my hands on your shoulders and am giving you a good shake.

I love coaching female athletes…and I’m not being sarcastic!  I enjoy coaching so much that it truly pains me when I hear folks complaining about working with women or girls.  Or when I hear a coach say that “girls just aren’t competitive.”  Or even worse: “girls can’t get along.”

I just shake my head because it doesn’t have to be that way!  If you’re currently a coach and having trouble with your female athletes, take heart.  You’re not the only one who hasn’t mastered working with female teams.

Let me tell you what…I’ve been there too, coach.  I’ve had those teams that look like world beaters on paper, but they can’t get along well enough to put it all together.  As you’ll read later, I’ve even had teams where the setters wouldn’t set certain hitters because they had some sort of issue off the court that had nothing to do with our sport.

It’s so frustrating!

So that’s why I wrote this book.  Because we’ve all been there.

Working with female athletes is our chance to teach leadership, goal setting, team chemistry…all of the intangibles of sport that they can carry with them for their entire life.

Most importantly, to me at least, we have a chance to show them that females can get along.  That female coaches of females can be successful.  That women can work and play alongside of one another…and still be friends.

Keep checking in on the blog and on the ebook page for the announcement when it officially goes on sale!

 

Posted by on March 25, 2011 in Books, Female athletes, Published articles

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