“People don’t know how ordinary success is.” –Olympic gold-medalist swimmer, Mary T. Meagher
Outstanding. Elite. Excellent. Success. Those are words that we use to describe what we want for our athletes. We want the best for them and we want them to excel above all things. But what if it were easier than we thought? What if success was just doing “a lot of ordinary things very well”? I’ve written about Daniel Coyle and his book The Talent Code before…I think it’s great. He’s also got a blog and this article is based on a post he’d written giving a tongue-in-cheek representation of what athletes should do to be unsuccessful. Let’s check out the three ordinary things that our athletes can do in order to increase their skill development and slowly but surely…become great.
The 3 things that we can do to help our athletes and their skill development
1. Learn to love mistakes. We’ve got to give our athletes a love of watching video. Not just to study up on the other team, but to study up on themselves. As Coyle says on his blog, “let’s start with a well-established truth: many top performers are obsessive about critically reviewing their performances.” He’s not just talking about a one-time viewing…”obsessive” seems to indicate a stronger level of commitment. It’s the desire to constantly get better that drives these athletes to search their technique, their movement, their response to their surroundings. It’s this desire that will make them a better athlete.
2. Become ritualistic. This is one that made me feel better about all of the superstitions we carry on our team. Certain girls wore the same headband all the time, my assistant wore the same shirt every game, I decided in my head that our team won when I put on makeup. Clearly these things had no influence on the game and we all recognized that…but it didn’t stop us from doing those things! But lo and behold, Coyle says “these behaviors are usually described as a superstition, but I think that misses the point: their ritual is their unique way of prepping to deliver a performance.” So while it may seem silly, it’s everyone’s way of putting their game faces on. Make sure that your team has individual rituals (headbands or listening to certain songs) as well as team rituals (warmup music, cheers) to get their brains into competition mode.
3. Watch others and learn. I think all of our athletes understand that they’re not the first folks to play their sport…and that maybe someone else knows how to do something better than they do. And if they don’t know, you should tell them! Show them video of folks doing what they’re struggling with so that they can internalize the technique. Have position practices where only your setters (or whatever position) attend and then just drill, drill, drill. It will allow your younger players to watch the veterans and allow your older players to develop their leadership skills. As Picasso said, “Good artists copy. Great artists steal.” Copying (stealing) technique is a great way for your athletes to develop their skills.
Imagine if your athletes did these three things every day…and how good they’d become! So give them a call or send them a text and let them know just how simple it could be to get really, really good.
**Update: Apparently, Trainer Barry is so excited by the response that he’s extended the offer until Tuesday, November 30th…better get on it!**
There are a couple of sports Barry’s that you probably know about. One has a giant head and swears that it’s totally normal to get better at a sport once you’re in your forties. The other is my main man, Barry Sanders. Being from Michigan, I had the pleasure of watching many football games with him crushing the competition…but also the misfortune of still being a fan of the poor Lions since he’s retired. He was an animal, back in the day…super fun to watch.
But don’t you worry, we haven’t been left Barry-less! My friend Barry Lovelace of Volleyball Team Training (affiliate link) is here with a deal for you on this Black Friday. If you were crazy enough to get up this morning at 3 a.m. to go shopping, well, take a nap and read this post again later. If you woke up at a more reasonable hour, click on the link and read about how he can help you get the most from your athletes. I can help you with the mental side of things, but you’ll have to see Barry for the physical stuff.
Check him out! I know that all of our budgets have taken a big hit and if you’re looking to re-invigorate the training program that you already have or put together a whole new program…Barry’s videos (and his free Skype consultation!) will help you out. Click here for Barry’s information on volleyball specific training drills as well as lots of core exercises. And in the spirit of Black Friday craziness, you can get five of his training videos and a consultation for only $39…plus you don’t have to get up at 3 a.m. and wait outside in the cold to be the first one in the store!
I’ll be seriously shocked if I actually have to write this down, but that picture above is from the movie “Hoosiers”. Really, if you’re a coach and you didn’t know that, then you have my permission to stop reading this post, put the movie in your Netflix queue and watch it right now!
I’ve watched parts of this movie with my teams before and the results are always good. I haven’t used it as a “fire up to beat the big team”, because I worry that I’ll get them too riled up for one game. But it’s great for an “us against the world” kind of thing. And that mantra works whether your team isn’t very good and no one expects much from you or you’re expected to win it all. The beauty in the movie is that it truly is a team that makes it happen. Hickory’s new coach has a shady past, one of the player’s dad is a drunk, and their best player quits in the middle of the season. Not exactly how you’d write up a successful season…but they are. Together.
And that’s the lesson. From the best to the least of them (remember when little Ollie had to get in and shoot free throws? Movie magic, I tell ya!), they are vital to the team’s success. I’m always shocked at how many of my players haven’t seen or even heard of this movie. We don’t watch the whole thing, but usually just the last hour…that’s where all the good stuff happens. Without fail, after they win a couple of games along the way to State, one of the players will nervously ask out loud, “I wonder what happens! Are they gonna win?” And they look at me and I give them the I don’t know shrug and encourage them to keep watching. If you’re able to finish this movie and not feel like all is right with the world, then something is wrong with you.
It’s a good time to talk to your team about goals. The sky’s the limit, right? It’s all about blowing past preconceived notions of how good your team can be. And make no mistake about it, they have a happiness ceiling in their head. Like, they’d be happy if you were in the top half of conference…or if you won conference…or if you made it to your regionals. They may not say so, but it’s in there. What if that happiness ceiling were removed and they just played hard and worked hard in practice and rode the wave? What if winning it all were a possibility? It’s our jobs as coaches to challenge our teams and make sure that they end every season knowing that they did all they could do to be the best they could be.
Do you have any movies that you use to motivate your team? What situations do you use it in?
Every team watches video…but are you using your time to your advantage?
The typical video session involves your team watching (hopefully not napping) video and you chatting away about the opponent. As coaches, we feel so strongly in the power of preparation…we’re coaches after all, and of course your team needs to know about an opponent’s tendencies and what to expect. But what if you added video sessions where the student athletes ran the show? What if you gave them an assignment while they watched video? I’ve done this since 2000 and it’s worked wonders for my teams and their volleyball IQ.
Since I’m a volleyball coach, I’ll assign my setters to track our set selections out of serve receive by rotation and the result…kill, error, or zero. They’ll do that for a game or two and find out our team’s tendencies and if they’re actually working. Or I might give my defensive people the job to rate their transition digs…3, 2, 1, 0 and then give the resulting set and hit result. And on and on it goes.
After watching the video, I give the players time to compile their info and get it ready for presentation. That’s right…they’ve got to tell the team what they came up with! It’s great. Everyone in the group has to have a job, whether it’s speaking or writing on the dry erase board, whatever. After giving their schpiel, they’ve got to give the team advice. It usually goes something like, “we should pass better so that our sets are better so that our hitters have a better shot at getting kills.” Of course the coaching staff has probably said that very thing 101 different ways, but it means more coming from other teammates.
Give it a whirl and let me know how you liked it…can’t wait to hear from you!