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8 Reasons Coaches Are Control Freaks

control freaksource

After reading 8 Signs You’re a Control Freak, I got the impression that the author wanted me to feel badly about my controlling tendencies.  But most coaches know that “control freak” is a synonym for coach.  In our lives, being a control freak is a good thing!

8 reasons I’m a control freak*

*The italicized sentences are from the article, what follows are my responses.

  1. You believe that if someone would change one or two things about themselves, you’d be happier. So you try to “help them” change this behavior by pointing it out, usually over and over. And over and over!  My philosophy is: if they’re sick of hearing it, they should change it.  Clearly, I’m talking about skills and not personal qualities in a player.
  2. You micromanage others to make them fit your (often unrealistic) expectations. You don’t believe in imperfection and you don’t think anyone else should either.  Doesn’t every coach have unrealistic expectations?  We expect our teams to only think about our sport when they’re the gym. We expect our players to do things the right way all the time.  We may not expect perfection, but we expect our teams to be as close to it as possible.
  3. You judge others’ behavior as right or wrong and passive-aggressively withhold attention until they fall in line with your expectations. Sitting in silent judgment is a master form of control.  This is a major compound sentence!  Coaches certainly judge behavior involving the team as right or wrong, it’s our job.  I think we’d all agree the “silent treatment” isn’t a great coaching strategy, but this bullet point seems in contrast to the first.
  4. You offer “constructive criticism” as a veiled attempt to advance your own agenda.  As long as by my own agenda, the writer means the best interests of the team, then yep…and it’s not even veiled.
  5. You change who you are or what you believe so that someone will accept you. Instead of just being yourself, you attempt to incept others by managing their impression of you.  Of course we should never misrepresent ourselves or our program to recruits or our current players, that goes without saying.  I’ve coached teams who are self-motivated and don’t need me to come down on them, while others need the proverbial kick in the pants.  We can’t be the same coach for every team, because every team is different.
  6. You present worst-case scenarios in an attempt to influence someone away from certain behaviors and toward others. This is also called fear mongering. The last time we won our conference, I pulled the team aside and told them that if we lost one more conference game, we wouldn’t make the tournament, let alone win it. I wanted to scare the pants off of them and I think I did!
  7. You have a hard time with ambiguity and being OK with not knowing something.  The only thing I’m comfortable not knowing about my team is what they do on the weekends when I’m not around.  Even then, I’ve made it clear that I need to know when things go sideways so that I can help…or at least be prepared for the fallout.
  8. You intervene on behalf of people by trying to explain or dismiss their behaviors to others.  The way the author wrote that is so negative.  Let’s say you’ve got a senior who sets a meeting with you to complain about the freshman…they’re not working hard enough.  The next day, one of your freshmen schedules a meeting with you to say that the seniors are being too tough on the team and no one is having fun.  Isn’t it our job to manage that situation?  Why yes.  Yes, it is.

After reading that article, I felt confirmation that what we do is a bit different.  I’m a control freak and unashamed!

I’m baaack!


Here is the reason I’ve been away for a year and I think I made a pretty good decision on that one! She’s super cute, right? But now I’m back and I can’t wait to talk coaching with all of you again.

Stay tuned as I talk about coaching female athletes, creating successful team environments, and (of course) how we can all get better at our craft.

Creating A Winning Culture


I follow a lot of business magazines on Twitter, so when the headline “What It Takes To Win” appeared on my timeline, I knew I was going to bring it over here.  This is what all coaches are trying to figure out, right?  Rather than an article, it’s actually a series of five short videos interviewing Howard Schultz, the CEO of Starbucks.  I’d say he knows a thing or two about being successful against fierce competition!

Many times in my gym, we say that winning is an outcome, not part of the process…and if we control the process, we can reasonably assume that the outcome will be positive in our favor.   So we don’t talk “winning” necessarily, but there are steps we can take to ensure we’ve done our best to control the process.

3 important attitudes teams need in order to create a winning culture

Culture creation  Schultz said two things about creating culture that stuck out to me…and that I think are linked.  First, those people who are willing to get their hands dirty will succeed.  What does that mean?  It means the team is “all in”.  Is everyone on our team giving it their all?  Sometimes players will hold back because they don’t think they’re an important piece of the team or because they’re new to the team.  When everyone is willing to go all out every day in practice, our odds of winning increase.  Second, everyone needs a stake in what it takes to win.  That way, no one’s to blame when things go wrong, but more importantly, no one can gloat when things work out the way we’re hoping.  It levels the playing field.

Great team chemistry  If you’ve been reading for a while or you’ve seen me speak, you know that I believe that sport is about way more than skills and drills and games…it’s about the intangibles we use each and every day!  Sport is just the Trojan horse for creating amazing human beings.  Schultz says that unbridled enthusiasm and passion are essential for great team chemistry.  Of course, this is part of the great culture that we’ll create of players who are willing to get their hands dirty.  An enthusiasm for practicing, for getting better, for working hard, for pushing each other, for excelling, for never giving up, for supporting one another…that’s what will give our team’s great chemistry.

Make bold moves   As Robert Frost said, “I took the road less traveled, and that has made all the difference.”  Winning may mean we have to swim upstream and do things a little differently.  A great line from the video is that great leaders must be able to see what’s around the corner.  Maybe you see that your team’s leadership is in its younger classes…how will you handle that while maintaining your team chemistry?  Maybe you think a player should switch positions, but you don’t think she’ll be all that fired up about it…how will you sell it to her?  There are so many situations that require the coach’s forethought…will we be ready?  One word of caution, whenever we do things that are outside of the box, people will think we’re doomed to fail.  Making bold moves means we must have the courage of our convictions and do what we think is best for the team.

So, here we are!  We’ve got the steps mapped out for creating a winning culture: Everyone on the team needs a stake in its success or failure, passion for the team and how the team plays is critical, and a willingness to make bold moves and do things differently.

Ebook Now Sold With FREE Pyramid Of Success PowerPoint

ebook page

Okey dokey.  I did my Motivating Female Athletes presentation at the American Volleyball Coaches Association convention and the response has been overwhelmingly positive.  Not only am I humbled that something I said made an impact on people’s lives, I’m excited because I believe in this stuff.

Everyone should love coaching female athletes.

Lots of folks asked me about how I use the Pyramid of Success with my team, because I talked about it being the guiding post for our team when we battle “girl drama”.  Enough people asked me that I have included a powerpoint presentation of how I use the Pyramid with my team when you buy my ebook, “Coach Dawn’s Guide To Motivating Female Athletes”.

Not only does the Pyramid help me with “girl drama”, but it helps the team set goals, gives us a common language for how we’ll be successful, and shows the team what it will take to achieve the ultimate goal.

The presentation goes through each block and has a place where you can click to hear me talking about how I implement each block with my team and the thought process.  So if listening to me for an hour at the convention wasn’t enough, you can listen to me for another hour talk about using John Wooden’s Pyramid of Success with your team!

Hopefully this offer sounds good to you and you’ll buy the ebook which I’d sold previously without the powerpoint presentation for $9.95…and I’m still selling it for $9.95 even with the additional materials.

Please click on the “Add To Cart” button so that you can purchase “Coach Dawn’s Guide To Motivating Female Athletes” and you’ll receive a FREE powerpoint (2010 version) called “Guarantee Your Success:  Using John Wooden’s Pyramid of Success To Increase Your Team’s Cohesion”.

Add to Cart

You can find out more about the ebook by clicking on this page.