Category Archives: Social media

To Friend Or Not To Friend: Social Media For Today’s Coach

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Do you friend your athletes?  What do you do when you see one of your players (who’s underage) drinking a beer or something from the infamous red cup?  Or, if you’re working with younger athletes, what do you do if you see one of your players bullying someone else online?  Or using inappropriate language?

I know that some coaches, especially at the collegiate level, force their team members to friend them so they can ensure that everything is on the up and up.  I know other coaches who barely know how to email, can’t figure out texting, and want absolutely nothing to do with social media sites.  Regardless, whether you’re actively managing pages or putting your head in the sand…you need to have an official stance on how it’s to be used by your players.

Why?  Because I heard a talk about social media that scared me a bit.  Basically the speaker said that not having rules was the same as complying with what your team is putting out there online.  My reaction was something like, “ummm, what?”  After that talk, I quickly ran to my hotel room and added a social media section to my team handbook and I think you should too…here’s why.

3 reasons why you need to add a social media section to your team handbook

1.      To give your athletes “rules of the road” for their pages. I’ve chosen not to friend my athletes.  Because I don’t friend them, my statement on social media can be a little lighter: “Be aware of what you put onto social networking sites. Only friend friends!  Set your privacy settings so that only people that you want to see your page can see your page.” Of course, as we go through the handbook at the beginning of the season, we go more in depth about what things should not go on their page: pics of them drinking, not fully dressed, or just behaving inappropriately are no-no’s.

2.      To give them repercussions for inappropriate posts or updates. If I were to require them to friend me, I think my social media stance would have to be a bit stronger.  Meaning, I’d have to tell them what would happen if I found inappropriate pictures or updates on their pages.  This is even more important for you high school and club coaches out there.  I received a direct message from a club coach recently that asked what he should do because he’s friends with most of his players and he’s seen some inappropriate things.  I told him that he needs a policy so that his players know what they’re getting into.  Something like a 3-strike system.  1st strike: verbal warning. 2nd strike: meeting with your parents.  3rd strike: missed playing time.  This way, they’re not sucker punched when you confront them about that update they posted on the way to practice.

3.      Cover your back. Like I said at the beginning, silence on this issue can be seen as compliance. But beyond that, your players need to realize that it’s a possibility that you’ll talk to their parents or their principal about their pages.  That alone should scare them straight and keep them from posting nonsense online.  If that doesn’t do it, lack of playing time (or whatever other things you have set up) should help them realize that you’re serious about this social media stuff.

One day, while looking up information on a recruit, I found a page that her “friends” at school had created.  It was called “Suzy Q is lazy, fat, and ugly”.  What would you do if one of your athletes was mean enough to create something like that?  What if they didn’t create it, but they “liked” the page?

We can’t control everything that our players do, but we can try our best to manage it!

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Party Foul? Social Media For Today’s Coach

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I’ll admit that I was late to the whole “social media” thing (feel free to imagine me using air quotations), but now that I’m on board, I love it.  I like writing on this blog, sending out tweets on Twitter, and finding old friends on Facebook…I’m even finding that LinkedIn is more vibrant that I was led to believe.  But as coaches, our reputations are a big part of who we are and why institutions hire us and we’ve got to be careful of what we put out there on the Internet.  So let’s ask ourselves a few questions that hopefully will eliminate some mistakes I’ve seen folks make and give you a clear vision of how to use social media to your advantage.

3 Questions To Ask Yourself Before Clicking The “Friend” Button

  • Should I friend players, player parents, or former players? It depends on how you use your Facebook page.  Are you twenty-two, just out of college, and taking cell phone pictures of yourself smooching random people at a bar?  Well, I think you already know the answer to that one!  But if you’re using your page for networking and can keep it professional, then friend away.   I think it can be a great way to connect and reconnect with former players and colleagues.  If necessary, you can always create a Fan page for yourself that can be used as your professional entity while keeping your personal page for real friends and not “friends”.
  • What’s kosher for my Facebook page? You probably already know the general stuff that shouldn’t go on your page, so I won’t go into that.  But what about your friends?  Are they knuckleheads?  You think you’ve got it all together, you’re not putting anything inappropriate on your page, you’re friending other folks in your profession…you’re doing it up!  But do you need to set your privacy settings so that the pics your friends have of you acting a fool don’t end up going out to all of your FB friends?  I learned that lesson after my family started putting up all sorts personal pictures from way back in the day.  They weren’t inappropriate or anything, but not exactly what I wanted my “Coach Dawn” Facebook page to reflect.
  • You know it doesn’t go away, right? Delete isn’t really delete, that’s all I’m saying.  What you say in your Facebook status update or that you tweet out every day is saved in some manner that techie people understand and I don’t.  You can also try to deny that you wrote whatever awful things you said in the heat of the moment (like this soccer coach did), but no one will believe you…especially if they’ve printed out the pages and handed them to your boss like the parents in the previously mentioned soccer coach story did.


Hopefully this can serve as a guiding post for you in your future social media ventures.  Good luck and be smart!

Leader 2.0: How Social Media Impacts Leadership

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Facebook. Twitter. Foursquare. Vimeo. YouTube. LinkedIn. Blogs. Podcasts. In case you haven’t noticed, there’s been a social media revolution and I wanted to talk about its impact on leadership. I watched a short video on the Harvard Business Review’s website called The Role of Tomorrow’s Leaders that I’d encourage you to check out when you’ve got a few extra minutes. It’s a conglomeration of current leaders talking about the challenges that leaders will face in the future and many of them talked about how social media will change the manner in which leaders lead. In this second in a three part series on leadership, I’ll talk about the ways that social media impacts leadership. As coaches, we tell our student-athletes to be mindful of who they friend on Facebook and not to put anything up that they don’t want their mothers to see…but is that social media’s only impact on what we do?

3 Ways Social Media Affects Coaching That You Probably Hadn’t Thought About

1. Teams won’t follow blindly: My high school coach was old school. You know the type: I tell you what to do and you don’t ask any questions. Well, those days are long gone, my friend! I’m sure that I’m not telling you anything that you don’t already know. Our athletes have access to much more information than ever before and that’s great. But now they can go home from practice and search for drills to help whatever problem it is they think they have and then come back to practice the next day and tell you what you need to do in order to solve their problem. That wouldn’t fly for old school coach, but Leader 2.0 understands that there’s an overload of information out there on the internet and that it’s our job to help frame that information. We want them to be interested enough that they’re searching for information, but to respect their coach’s knowledge and vision for the team. Leader 2.0’s easy fix: be knowledgeable.

2. The ugly side of social media: These days, an unhappy parent or player can negatively impact a coach in very real ways. We don’t like to talk about it, but where there’s a team, there’s someone who’s not happy with their role on it! It used to be that we just worried about team “cancers” grumbling underneath their breath, now we’ve got to worry about them setting up a “I Hate Coach Dawn…Don’t You?” Facebook page and soliciting “likes” for it. I know that there are coaches out there who say that social media’s not for them, but for the young folks…I don’t think that’s a very empowering stance to take. Leader 2.0’s easy fix: at the lowest level, check out what’s being said about you by doing an internet search; higher level leaders would be proactive and put their own information out there.

3. Distributed leadership: As I said before, the days of the old school “my way or the highway” coaching style has passed, being replaced with a distributed style of leadership. It’s something that sports teams have done forever, but now it’s more pronounced. Distributed leadership looks like a head leader (or head coach, of course) with different sets of leaders place amongst the team. Most of us have captains who serve as our team leaders, but we can also have other folks with less defined leadership roles…but they are leaders nonetheless. As the head coach, be sure to meet with your team’s leaders so that they can be advocates for you and your system, but also to help you gauge your team’s atmosphere. Leader 2.0’s easy fix: train your leaders on what leadership looks like to you…that’ll keep your frustration level low.

As coaches and leaders, let’s actively embrace social media and its impact on our teams, our recruits, and our lives. Stay tuned for the third and final part of the leadership series where I talk about the paradoxical leader.

Read Part One

Read Part Three