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Archive for the ‘Coaching career’ Category

Great Coaching Advice…From A Coach Smarter Than Me

21 Jul

damngoodadvicesource

The first year I started coaching, I went to my first major coaching convention.  A week-long affair, I learned so much about the profession that I thought my head would explode.  As a young coach, fresh out of college, I was living in a parallel universe of reliving my past glory as an athlete and trying to gain respect as a coach.

While at this convention, one of the speakers (unfortunately, I can’t remember her name) gave me two nuggets that I still remember to this day…this is the aforementioned great coaching advice:

  • You can’t be a great coach until you stop trying to be a great player.
  • No Sh*t Coaching (N.S.S.)…more on that later.



Great player
I received an email from a reader recently and she’s been doing the camp circuit over the summer and felt that her fellow camp coaches didn’t respect her because she didn’t play in college.  I told her, like I’d tell anyone, that we all have to learn to be coaches…playing doesn’t prepare you for the profession.  How many of us know folks who were all-Americans in college, but can’t figure out how to teach a movement or skill?  Coaching isn’t about playing, it’s about teaching, leading, motivating, prodding, believing, and guiding a group of people.  Coaching is a learned profession and you don’t learn it from playing.  You learn it by doing and by studying those who’ve gone before you.

Captain Obvioussource

N.S.S.
“Get the serve over the net!”–volleyball coach
“Make this shot!”–basketball coach
“Run fast!”–track coach

No Sh*t Coaching is stating the obvious. Using the examples above: Of course volleyball players should serve the ball over the net, does a coach really need to say that?  Will a basketball player become better if his coach tells him he should make a shot immediately after he’s missed it?  Does the sprinter really not know that she’s supposed to run fast?  It is track after all.

When the speaker said this, it was the beginning of my desire to really delve deeply into my sport, to learn the hows and whys of each movement and every assumption that I had about volleyball.  I’d advise every coach to go beyond the surface level coaching and give your athletes critiques and corrections that they will be able to use to become better versions of themselves.

Hopefully you find the speaker’s advice as great as I did!

 
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Coaches Corner: The Power Of Female Mentorship

30 Apr

female mentorssource

When Vanessa Walby decided that she wanted to be a coach for a living, she went to her former college coach and said, “I want to be just like you.” She wanted to develop young women and she wanted to build something great. That sounds like a typical story until you find out that her college coach didn’t just pat her on the back and say good luck. She sat Walby down and they came up with a detailed plan for how she would accomplish her goals.

Now that’s mentorship!

When Walby started the newest chapter in her coaching story, she called her former coach. Amazingly enough, the coach not only remembered coming up with the plan, but reminded Walby that she was right on track.

This wasn’t by happenstance. Walby reached out to established coaches and asked them for guidance. This is probably a lesson we can all learn from…not to sit back and expect things to come to us. After speaking with her, Walby seems to have one foot planted in the past and the other firmly planted in the future…and it all seems to steer her present decisions.

Past.  Walby has an interesting history. She played for Kris Russell, arguably one of the best Division III volleyball coaches of all time. She’s currently at Washington University, which had another coaching great on its sidelines in Teri Clemens. She’s surrounded by all of this volleyball amazingness…is it a wonder she’s been so successful? She’s got crazy desire and passion along with an amazing support system.

Future. When you talk to Walby about why she loves coaching or her favorite parts of the profession, she’s very passionate about the impact she believes she can have on her players. Like most of us, she loves watching her athletes come in as nervous and unassuming freshman and leaving as confident seniors ready to take on the world.

So what can the rest of us learn from her story?

  • Don’t be afraid to ask for mentorship. I’ve found coaches to be amazingly approachable and open to sharing their knowledge, but you’ve got to ask. They’re not just walking down the street asking people if they want to know more about coaching.
  • Then use your mentor. Walby used her connection with her college coach to meet all sorts of coaching hot shots.
  • Do a good job. I’m not saying we’ve all got to be nationally ranked in order for it to be worth your mentor’s time, but you’ve got to put your best foot forward. The mentor stuck their neck out for you, so you’ve got to return the favor by working hard and being prepared.



If you’d like to advance your career, get out of a rut, or just get better at what you do where you are, maybe a mentor would help you meet your goals. Can’t hurt to try!

The Vanessa Walby series

Coaches Corner: Vanessa Walby
Coaches Corner: On Changing A Culture

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!

 
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Posted in Coaches Corner, Coaching career

 

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!

 
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Posted in Coaches Corner, Coaching career

 

When Will You Feel Successful As A Coach?

21 Mar

successful coachsource

Success is peace of mind which is a direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you did your best to become the best you are capable of becoming.—John Wooden

This will be a short one today, but (I think) a good one.

I was talking to a coaching friend the other day.  He told me that he knew he’d be a great coach once his current team made it to NCAA’s. Now this guy has won a national championship at another institution, so it’s not like he doesn’t know how to win.

His comment said a few things to me.

  • We coaches are way too hard on ourselves.
  • We coaches are internally driven to succeed.
  • We coaches like challenges.



As I said to him, clearly you’re a good coach because you’ve won a national championship.  But I get it, once you accomplish a goal as a coach, you’re on to the next one.  So what did he do after winning a national championship?  He took a job at a historically bad university with no history of success.

Coaches love challenges.  We love setting goals and meeting them.  It’s what drives us.

Whether your goal is to rebuild a team culture or rebuild a player’s confidence, go out and do it to the best of your ability.  Like the Wooden quote above says, success is the satisfaction of knowing you did your best.  Let’s be our best selves for our teams!

John Wooden’s TEDtalk:  The difference between winning and succeeding

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The John Wooden series:

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

 
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Posted in Coaching career, Leadership, TEDtalk

 

Leaving A Legacy Through Coaching

07 Mar

leave a legacysource

“The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson

I took that quotation from Leadership Freak’s post, 10 Ways to Build Powerful Legacy Now.  For the purposes of this post, let’s change out “life, lived, and lived” with “coaching, coached, and coached.”  I’m sure most of us coaches, no matter the level, imagine ourselves as difference makers.

Just like we want our teams and players to set goals that begin with the end in mind, we should also think about what we want our players to say about us when they’re finished.  What about our coworkers?  Our families?

5 ways coaches can build an amazing legacy

  • Develop and maximize your talent, strengths, and skills.  We’ve got to be lifelong learners.  I love being a dork about my sport.  I love learning from other coaches.  I can’t imagine a time when I’ll think I know it all.
  • Seize small opportunities. Big may follow.  This one is a good one…and a thought I actually heard from another coach.  He lamented that young coaches are too quick to turn down the entry level job.  His advice: take a job doing what you want to do.  Worry about it having cache when you actually have experience.
  • Think service not success.  When we only think of our own success, we take the heart out of coaching.  If we believe our jobs are to make our players better human beings, service has to come before success.
  • Relax. Don’t run around building a legacy. Run around making a difference.  This is my favorite one.  If we’re always thinking about what will be said about us in the future, we may not live in the present.  We’ve got to trust that if we’re the best coaches that we can be, the rest will take care of itself.
  • Elevate the needs of others over your own.  In my opinion, coaching should be an “other people” job…meaning it’s about other people.  It’s about developing your players.  It’s about being a good coworker.  It’s about equipping your assistants to be team leaders.  It’s also about figuring out how to be there for our families.  If we’re successful on all of those fronts, I think our legacies will be pretty amazing.



What do you think?  I believe coaches have the power to change the lives of others.  And those people will go out into the world and change the lives of others…and so on, and so on.

 
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The Importance of Sleep For Our Players

17 Jan

sleeplessnesssource

On a team long, long ago, I had a player with a troubled friend in her dorm.  This friend would have episodes which involved seizures and scary blackouts.  My player, ever the mother hen, felt it was her duty to stay up with her friend even though these episodes happened during the wee hours of the morning.  This would happen night after night.

No sleep for days.

And she expected to be able to function well in the classroom and in the gym.  She would tell me, “Don’t worry coach, I don’t need much sleep.”  Huh?

Not every scenario is as crazy as this one.  Some are just your players stay up too late doing homework.  Or they aren’t able to get uninterrupted sleep. Or they think they can party the weekend away and pay the homework piper on Sunday.

This should be important to us not only because we’re counting on our athletes to perform, but also part of our role in their lives is to teach them how to be functioning adults.

What’s the problem?

According to this Harvard Business Review article, Sleep Deficit: The Performance Killer, there are four parts to sleep that affect performance.  The first part is our natural drive to sleep.  We think we’re in control of it, but essentially, our bodies will force us to sleep if we put it off too long.  The second is the amount of sleep we get over the course of a few days.  The third is the part of us that says, “Oh, it’s light outside, it’s time to get up.”  Finally, there’s the groggy wakeup.  Apparently, we need about twenty minutes in the morning to get our bearings.

What can we do about it?

  • If we schedule morning practices, we’ve got to give them time to truly wake up.  If I go in the morning, I usually do some sort of conditioning first.  That way, they don’t have to tax their brains until later in the practice.
  • We’ve got to talk to them about how important sleep is to their performance.
  • If there’s a way to show them they’re not being heroic by staying up all night writing papers and studying, we’ve got to show them.
  • Sleep has to be equated to going to the training room, getting strong in the weight room, and watching film…it’s what we need to do in order to be good.



The article equated lack of sleep with drunkenness.  We wouldn’t tolerate our players being in a perpetual state of intoxication and we shouldn’t tolerate sleeplessness either.

 
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The Power of Taking Time Off

06 Jan

Sabbaticalsource

When I saw this TEDtalk called, “The Power of Time Off”, I was understandably intrigued.  Since I’ve just come off of a year-long break from blogging, speaking, and writing, I’m trying to figure out how to frame what I’ve gone through.  You should check out the talk, though it’s a bit long at just under eighteen minutes.

Certainly, taking a year off to hang out with my kid would be a valid reason, but I am looking for more.  I’m looking for a reason this break made me a better coach/writer/speaker/mother than I was pre-sabbatical.

Deciding what to give up

The first thing I should do is acknowledge that I didn’t give up my main source of income, namely being a coach and administrator at my college.  But I did give up the writing and speaking that I so enjoy…I truly benefit from connecting with and learning from other coaches.  There was most certainly the risk that everyone would forget about Coach Dawn and all of my cool writing about this amazing profession.

How did I decide what to give up?  I broke my life down into parts: work, family, “Coach Dawn”.  I don’t know whether or not it’s sad that I can break my life into just three parts, but it fit.  I can’t imagine telling my family that I’m going to take a year-long break from them, just as it would be unfathomable to tell my boss that I didn’t want to coach for a year.  So…Coach Dawn it was.

Stefan Sagmeister, the TEDtalk speaker, defines work as having three parts (this is so good, I could write a whole post just about this!):

  • Job: he needs it for money.  Coach Dawn does have a revenue aspect that was helpful.
  • Career: he’s interested in advancement and promotion. I can see myself, when I’m ready to move on to the next challenge, doing Coach Dawn full time…so this definition is spot on.
  • Calling: intrinsically fulfilling, he’d do his job for free.  I didn’t get into writing this blog for cash, but to connect with other coaches who are passionate about their profession…that makes this a good working definition for me.

Giving up Coach Dawn was tough, but I don’t know that “giving up” is the proper term.  I freed up space to focus on being better.  I had to decide whether or not Coach Dawn was worth my time and effort.  Was it helping or hurting my coaching? Going through the job/career/calling thing was helpful for me.

The big picture

Sure, I want to win games and championships, just like any other coach.  More than that, though, my sabbatical afforded me the time to think about my impact on the young ladies on my team.  It gave me time to wonder about my influence on my campus.  Most importantly, my time off gave me time to miss writing and speaking.

Try it!

Taking a break doesn’t have to take a year.  It can take a semester, a month, or a week.  I think this idea goes against the coaching culture: working less now to pay dividends in the future.  Is there something you can set aside that will free you up to draft a plan to become a better you?

 
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Posted in Coaching career, TEDtalk

 

A Moment Of Pause

31 Dec

hiatussource

Well folks, I’m about a week out (8 days, but who’s counting?) from my due date for our little bundle of joy’s arrival.  My husband and I are super excited to add to our family and are looking forward to this next chapter.

As I assess all of the things I must do in order to be a successful coach (I still have recruiting calls to make, a recruiting calendar that is daunting, and spring season for my team) and a successful mom (time, time, time!  love, love, love!), I’ve decided that the writing that I so enjoy has to take a backseat.  Once I get a handle on how to be both an awesome coach and mom, then I’ll add awesome blogger back to the mix.

I get asked lots of questions about the pregnancy, so here are…

Coach Dawn’s baby FAQ’s:

  • Do I know what I’m having?  Nope, we’re going to be surprised.
  • How do I feel?  Great…I’m having a baby!
  • Have we picked out a name? Not yet, we’ll be forced to soon enough though.
  • How will you decorate the nursery if you don’t know if it’s a boy or a girl?  Well this child has no choice but to be athletic…my husband played football at the college I work at and I coach volleyball there.  Thus the decorations will be sporty!
  • When exactly am I due (usually said with a worried look)?  January 8th…we’re almost there.  :)


Okay folks.  Happy coaching and I’ll see you later.

 
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14 Ways To Stay Motivated

26 Dec

Im-going-to-succeedsource

When I first started coaching, I would go and chat with one of the veteran coaches in the office…just to soak up whatever knowledge he was willing to share with me.  He’d been coaching for over thirty years and I was in year two.  Quite honestly, I wondered how he stayed so fired up about the profession.  But he was…there was a glint in his eye that I’m sure hadn’t lost its luster in the entire thirty years he’d been on the sideline.

Of course, whenever I asked that very question, he would brush me off with a (not altogether untrue) joke.  “If you’re not scared to death of losing”, he’d say with a smirk, “then you’re in the wrong profession.”

While I’m sure some measure of his motivation came from fear of failure, I’d guess the bulk of it came from tried and true ways to stay motivated.  Inc.com had a great article about this, 14 Easy Ways to Get Insanely Motivated, it’s a quick read…check it out.

14 ways to stay motivated

Condition your mind.  Staying positive is huge.  We’ve got plenty of opponents who are trying to defeat us…let’s not defeat ourselves too!

Condition your body.  Staying healthy, eating right, working out…those are hard to do when we’re in season.  But we’ve got to try our best to take care of ourselves so that we can be available and energetic for our teams.

Avoid negative people.  If our heart sinks a little when we see someone coming, perhaps they’re negative.  Or if during lunch, we spend the entire time trying to pick someone else up (and they’re still grumpy), we might have to cut our losses and limit our time with those Negative Nellies.

Seek out the similarly motivated.  These are the people we can bounce ideas off of and they keep us fired up about what we do.

Have plans, but remain flexible.  We may think we know how we’re going to accomplish our goals, but staying flexible will keep us from getting down when things don’t work out how we thought they would.

Act with a higher purpose.  What’s your coaching philosophy?  If we do things that go against our philosophy, it will be pretty hard to be motivated.

Take responsibility for your own results.  How can we stay motivated if our success (or failure) is outside of our control?  When things are within our control, we feel that we have power over the situation.  And when we feel we have power, we can stay motivated.

Stretch past your limits on a daily basis.  For me, it’s been committing to reading and writing about my profession every day.  What will it be for you?

Don’t wait for perfection, do it now!  Perfection is unattainable, so if that’s what we’re waiting for…we’re going to be waiting for a long time.

Celebrate your failures.  When we see failure as a necessary step to success, we’re more willing to own our failures…and hopefully learn from them.

Don’t take success too seriously.  Sport is fickle.  We can beat the best team in conference one night and be feeling on top of the world…only to lose to a bottom dweller the next time out.

Avoid weak goals.  Weak goals start with “I’ll try to” or “I hope to”.  Strong goals begin with “I will”.  They are specific and have a deadline to them.

Treat inaction as the only real failure.  My motto: less talk, more do.

Think before you speak.  Don’t become the Negative Nelson that everyone else is avoiding in the office.  Stay positive, stay upbeat, stay motivated.

Not many professions have to live out their successes and failures in the public eye like athletics, which can make it hard to stay motivated sometimes.  Use these tips to get and stay motivated to guide your team to success.

 
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5 Gifts Santa Can Drop Off For Coaches

24 Dec

source

If you’re out shopping today, then you’ve missed the fun part of shopping…where everyone’s happy and smiling and singing carols.  Now people are stressed, desperate, and not quite as friendly.  But don’t you worry, I sent my list in to Santa for all of us and this is what you can expect to find under your tree tomorrow morning.

**5 things that I hope Santa leaves for me (and my fellow coaches!)
when he comes down our chimneys tomorrow**

  • Great athletes.  I’m sure I don’t have to expand on this, but I’ll quickly define what I mean by “great”.  Surely skill comes into play, as well as a high sports I.Q., a love of the game, a love of hard work, an understanding of and commitment to team, the ability to rise to the occasion, and a strong desire to be a leader.  And that’s just the start.
  • Understanding bosses.  Administrators that know we’re slightly crazy during season and put up with it, who know what our programs need before we even ask, that understand that they’ve got to fight for our teams and programs so that we’re adequately funded and supported.  Bosses who want success.
  • Awesome recruits. These folks have all of the traits of “great athletes” as described above…and they fit in with your team seamlessly.  Not only are they fired about your school and your team, they commit to your program early out of respect for the other people that you’re recruiting.
  • Perspective. Every win doesn’t mean you’re going to win a national championship and each loss doesn’t mean that your team is awful and doomed to failure.  Perspective shows us coaches that we are leaders and teachers of young people.  While the most immediate benefit of our instruction is sport skill building, we’re also building them into better human beings.  We’re teaching them how to win and lose with grace, how to take care of their bodies and eat healthily, how to value hard work, how to deal with the unfairness that will sometimes happen in life, and how to be a member of a group with a goal or cause that’s bigger than they are.
  • Passion. I hope you love what you do.  I hope that you can’t go to sleep some nights because you’re so excited about a new play that you know will work or the next competition.  I hope that your athletes make you laugh even when you want to be serious.  I hope that you jot down ideas about your team on napkins while you’re having lunch.  I hope that you love learning about your sport and your craft.  I hope you’re getting better every day.  I hope you love what you do.


I’m sure this is a list that we can all get behind, one that’ll make our teams better.  Merry Christmas folks and safe travels during the holiday season!

 
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Posted in Coaching career