Jingle Bell Rock: 8 Christmas Wishes For The Athletes You Coach

Jingle-Bell-Rocksource

It’s crunch time people…only one more day to find that perfect gift for everyone on your list.  Though I suppose at this point, it doesn’t really have to be perfect, does it?  I do have a list of gifts that would be perfect for your team to receive this year.  Gifts that would make them better teammates and better players.  They may not know that they need these gifts though, so you’ll need to write up a wish list for them.  Here they are:

8 things you’d be fired up for Santa to leave under your player’s Christmas trees

1.       Confidence.  In themselves, in their abilities, and the future of the team.  It’s essential to any sort of success your team may have…and it’s got to be consistent.  Situational confidence is short-lived, to be crushed by the next loss or poor performance.  But genuine confidence?  Now that’s the good stuff!  It’s a belief held deep down within the athlete that they will ultimately be successful.

2.       Success. We love our athletes, don’t we?  And we want the best for them and hope that all of their hard work and focused intensity will pay off in the end with some sort of tangible success.  Whether it’s the non-starter who becomes a starter, or the starter who makes all-conference, or the all-conference player that receives national recognition…we all hope for a measure of success for our players.

3.       Self-motivation. In my mind, the best gift that Santa could leave!  Every drill, every game, every weight room workout is only as good as the amount of effort our athletes are willing to put in.  For those who are internally motivated to work hard in the off-season, during preseason, in the weight room…those are the athletes who will see tremendous improvement over the course of their careers.

4.       Hard work. There’s only one person who knows if your players are working to their full potential…that’s the players themselves!  We can put them into physically and mentally challenging situations, but it’s up to them to truly challenge themselves.  We all hope that we’ll have a team full of players that will never “dog it” in a drill or not push themselves in a practice, but we’ve got to trust them to take things seriously.  Those athletes who are willing to keep their foot on the gas pedal throughout the entire season will ultimately experience success.

5.       Leadership. The responsibility of being a team leader is exciting to some and daunting to others.  We’d love for our teams to be full of leaders and leaders-in-training.  Your current leaders could model to your leaders-in-training the proper ways to motivate and encourage people.  An openness and desire to lead is essential because I don’t think that you can thrust leadership onto someone, but rather it must be accepted.

6.       Teaminess. That’s a word that I’ve made up that describes the state of an individual who values their teammates and enjoys being in a team environment.  The teamy player puts their teammates first and is willing to sacrifice personal glory for the good of the team.  Teaminess is what occurs when a group of people come together with a common goal, a common purpose, and a common level of dedication.

7.       Skill. Hopefully Santa will leave a gigantic box of skill under our player’s trees!  Because all of the intangibles in the world won’t do the team much good if it’s not combined with skill.  But those intangibles should spur the player on to work at their skill level with a laser-like focus.

8.       Hunger. I’m sure we’ve all coached the athlete that was blessed with a tremendous heaping of skill, but junks it away with their laziness.  I’m not talking about that athlete, but rather the one who is very skilled and willing to work to better their already finely tuned skills.  The athlete who wants to win and be successful so badly that they can literally taste it.  The player who is being propelled by their desire to get better every single day.

Those are the things that I want for my players.  They’ve got a finite amount of time to accomplish great things and my wish for them is that they do everything within their power to attain their goals.

Why Collaboration Trumps Cooperation On Teams

collaborationsource

“Collaboration is hard.” –The Science of Teamwork

When I was a student, I greatly disliked group projects.  There were many reasons, mostly stemming from my big-headed idea that I could do better all by myself.  Then I figured out that everyone in the group was thinking the same thing!  What we were really doing, according to the article I linked above, was cooperating, not collaborating.

What’s the difference?  Cooperating means identifying a common goal and proceeding on an individual path which fits under the umbrella of the goal.  Cooperation means the goal can be accomplished singly and then fit together neatly at the end.  Cooperation, according to the article, means that each individual can be praised for their particular effort.

Collaboration is hard, but necessary, if our teams are to accomplish anything great.  Collaboration is messy and sometimes emotional because it necessitates that give up their personal desires for the greater good of the team.  So how do we take our teams from cooperating to collaborating.

3 ways to encourage collaboration on our teams

Give up individual goals.  I know that we all talk to our players about their particular goals for the season…and that’s a good thing.  But it’s not the first thing.  If the team wins a national championship, but that player didn’t accomplish all of her goals, I’d hope she would see the season as a resounding success.

Emotional give and take.  When I was a player, me and a friend (who also happened to be a teammate) where fighting for the same starting position.  Both of us had to be adults about the decision that was going to be made…one of us would start and the other wouldn’t.  And it would be for the good of the team.  As hard and emotional and challenging as the situation was, it was worth it because it wasn’t about us, but about the team.

Work in new ways that may not be comfortable.  I would guess that all coaches are in the business of challenging our players.  We challenge them to try different skill techniques.  We challenge them to be vocal leaders.  We challenge them to think more critically about our sport.  And all of that challenging isn’t comfortable for them…but they do it (or at least they should) for the good of the team.  They understand that their coach wouldn’t ask them to do anything that wouldn’t also greatly benefit the team.

While it’s harder to receive individual accolades using the collaboration method, it’s crucial for our teams to embrace the challenge.

A Coach’s Guide To Creating Harmony On A Female Team

gossipysource

Mean girls.  We’ve all heard that phrase and I worry that we all believe it on some levels.  I’ve heard coaches, mothers, and female athletes themselves talking about how girls and women can’t get along and that their team’s had “girl issues.”  I don’t believe that issues or conflicts have a gender attached to them.  What I do believe is that women can, in fact, get along and they can compete (together!) at amazingly high levels.  So now, let’s look at the…

2 prevailing myths that too many people believe about female athletes

  • Myth #1:  Women aren’t competitive.
    This is usually uttered by the exasperated male coach of a female team.  Check out this scenario:  it’s game point in a close volleyball match.  The two teams are pretty evenly matched…they’ve been trading points the whole game.  Your team is about to serve for the game and the opposing coach calls a time out.  You huddle your team close around you and you look your server in the eye very intensely and tell her, “it all comes down to you Susie…we won’t win without you!”  You think you’re firing her up and showing her that you believe in her.  She hears: “Don’t screw up!  If you miss this serve, your team will hate you!”

    Women are very competitive and will rise to any occasion…together.  Studies show that women get onto teams to be a part of something and to socialize, then once they realize that they’re good, they’ll keep playing.  That’s exactly the opposite of guys who join teams because they’re good and happen to make friends along the way.  So, the moral of the story is, if you want to motivate your female athletes to greatness, remind them of their teaminess.  At that same time out, bring your team in, huddle them up close and (while making eye contact with all of them) say: “ladies, you all have worked your tails off to get to this point.  You’ve hit, you’ve passed, you’ve set, you’ve played amazing defense.  Now, Susie is going to crush this serve and we’re going to win this game.”  You’ve said the same thing as the first example, but now you’ve included her in a group effort.


  • Myth #2:  Girls can’t get along.
    If I could have a cause as a coach, it would be to eliminate the world of this perception that female athletes can’t get along.  You’re probably thinking…well Dawn, you coach collegiate athletes, but my middle school girls are ripping each other apart!  I’ve coached middle and high school as well as at the Division I and III collegiate levels and I’ve learned one major lesson:  the coach sets the tone.  It’s our job as the coach to understand what makes female teams tick and what motivates each athlete.  As Kathy DeBoer says in her book, Gender and Competition: How Men and Women Approach Work and Play Differently, “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.”  So now that we know it’s kosher to say that female athletes are different than male athletes, let’s cut to the crux of the issue.

    The coach runs the show.  Do you secretly believe that females are “catty” or can’t get along?  Then that’ll come across to your team.  How?  You’ll let bad behavior slide because you think that it’s somehow a female trait.  If two people have a conflict and they’re men, it’s no big deal…if they’re women?  They’re catty.  So the first thing is to evaluate your belief system and make sure that your team understands what you will and will not accept.  I’m pretty explicit with my team about this whole “girls can’t get along” thing and how I think it’s a crock.  The next step is to empower them with conflict resolution skills and also to help them understand the different personality types and how they interact with each other.  I certainly don’t expect my team to make it through an entire season and not have issues that need to be addressed, but I haven’t given them license to brush it under the rug as “girl problems”.  Conflict doesn’t have gender and we, as coaches, can’t give our teams excuses to not learn how to effectively deal with those conflicts.

So I’m hoping that this has confirmed what you already knew about your female athletes: they’re strong, confident, competitive, and resilient problem solvers who will run through walls for their teammates and their coaches.

Click here and you can get Coach Dawn Writes articles emailed directly to your inbox!  It’s free and easy…and you won’t get spammed.  Scouts honor.

3 Ways Women Can Be Effective Leaders

female-leadersource

In my post, 3 Ways To Keep Females In Coaching And Athletics Administration, I talk about the lack of ladies in athletics…and the numbers were pretty dramatic.  If you’re interested in seeing all of the numbers and a link to the study, just click on the article and it’s all there.  Here are a few: 43% of female teams have female coaches, 19% of athletics directors are female, and only 12% of SID’s are women.

Those numbers make me tilt my head to the side, Scooby Doo-style, and say “ruh roh”.  Apparently this isn’t just an athletics problem, because there is a great video over on ted.com by Sheryl Sandberg, the COO of Facebook.  It’s called Why We Have Too Few Women Leaders and it’s fabulous!  She talks about how two-thirds of married men who are executives have kids…while only one-third of their female cohort can say the same (more on that later).  She also gives her disclaimer that there’s nothing wrong with staying home with your kids, but if you want to stay in the game…

Here are the 3 things that females need to be successful executives/leaders/coaches/administrators

Sit at the table. She says one of the more powerful statements that I’ve heard in a while about us ladies, “women systematically underestimate their own abilities.”  What she means by sitting at the table is for ladies to see themselves as more.  She means that when there’s a meeting and all of the bigwigs are sitting at the conference table…women should too.  Don’t sit off to the side because you don’t think you belong with the big dogs.  Too often, we ladies attribute our success to others rather than owning it…so we not only see ourselves as less than, we put ourselves in a position to be seen as less than.

Make your partner a real partner. How about this?  When both spouses work full time, the woman does two times (!!) as much housework and three times as much childcare as the husband.  But her point isn’t the stereotypical finger wagging at men to do more (though that would help!), it’s more of a cultural slant.  She says that we put so much more pressure on boys to succeed that their self-worth is tied in to doing well at work.  She wonders aloud if men earned the same amount of respect for deciding to stay at home with their kids as they got from going to work every day, if there wouldn’t be more dads who’d stay home.  Which of course would let the mom be able to go out and be the wage earner.

Don’t leave before you leave. She means that women will sometimes stop looking for advancement opportunities way too early.  For example, a woman will get engaged and decide that she shouldn’t apply for a job because of her future husband.  Or because they’re trying to get pregnant.  Sandberg calls it “quietly leaning back”.  The women in these examples aren’t at the decision point (not yet married and not yet pregnant), but they’re already starting to shut down promotion options by not even trying for them.  They’re still going to work, they’re still (seemingly) doing everything the same way…they’re just not trying to make that next move.

Women, we may decide that staying the workforce isn’t for us…that we’d rather stay at home.  But we shouldn’t assume that we’ve got to give up our aspirations of greatness.  Let’s make sure that we’ve really thought it through, that we’ve talked to our partner (maybe he’s willing to do more), and that we’re going hard until we just can’t anymore.

6 Hidden Gems Who Go Unnoticed On Teams

diamond roughsource

Maybe you’re a high school coach who knows that the freshman and junior varsity teams are lacking talent to send up to your team.  Or maybe you’re the college coach whose recruiting class didn’t quite turn out the way you’d planned.  Or you could be the club coach who received five players who play the same position.  It could be that your team (God forbid) experienced a major loss when a key player got injured.

Whoever is reading this, we’ve all found ourselves in situations where we had to train players to do something that was seemingly outside of their skill set.  I got the idea for this post from, Diamonds in the rough: How to recognize your star employees, on Smart Blogs’ website.  When we’re forced to think outside of the box, sometimes good things happen!

These diamonds in the rough could be hiding in plain sight

  1. Haven’t put it all together yet.  Whether they started with the sport late, adolescence hit with fury, or they’re just slow learners…some players take a while to “get it”.  These are usually the players with great physical gifts (height, strength, etc.) who need tons of reps.
  2. Haven’t maxed out at skill level.  I’m sure we’ve all coached the player who’s maxed out their potential, they’re just not going to get better.  It’s not that they’re bad players, they could be really good, we just know they’re at the peak of their curve rather than on their way up.  The key when in crisis mode is to find the player who’s on the way up.
  3. Appreciative of coach’s effort and interest.  Those players who look us in the eye when we’re giving correction and immediately try to change their behavior are fired up about getting better.  They’re the ones we see practicing by themselves when we walk past the gym.  They’ll practice hard for whatever situation we put them in.
  4. Value team.  These players put team first.  When we ask them to switch positions or to step in somewhere they’ve never played before, they do it without question.  This type of player has an open attitude about change and will make our jobs a lot easier.
  5. Willing to work (hard) to improve.  Not only willing, but these players are excited about the challenge of learning something new.  They’ll watch film, come to practice early and stay late.  These players understand that working hard leads to really good things.
  6. Enjoy the sport.  Look for players who have fun when they’re with the team.  Enthusiasm will make the transition easier for the player and their teammates…and their coach!



As we think about our teams, we should always have a plan A, B, and C for each of them.

5 Questions We Should Ask While Problem Solving

Scampersource

Problem: A player isn’t performing at an acceptable level.

What to do?:  SCAMPER.   Let’s look at how we’d apply SCAMPER to our teams.

First things first, what the heck is SCAMPER?  The letters stand for Substitute, Combine, Adapt, Magnify/Modify, Put to other uses, Eliminate, Rearrange, though I won’t talk about combine or magnify/modify here.

I’m sure we could use this technique with all sorts of problems, but let’s stick with our problem player.

Can we substitute?:  This is the easiest solution to an underperforming player…put someone else in.  Though, if the player is a starter and impact player for our team, keeping her off of the court isn’t a smart long term solution.

Can we adapt to her?:  I worked with a team at a summer camp with a pretty dynamic hitter, though she struggled with slower tempo sets.  The only problem?  Her head coach put her in a position to work only in her weakness and hit those slow tempo sets.  After watching her crush fast tempo after fast tempo ball, we changed the offensive system to work in her strength and she excelled.

Can we put her to another use?: Our players come to us with a certain amount of training in their particular position, but can they do other things?  Would it be better if they played another position?  Until we answer, “yeah, I can put her to another use…right here on the bench next to me”, we’ve got to figure out a way for each player to have a legitimate contribution to the team’s effort.

What can we eliminate?:  Maybe the coaching staff has come up with a sweet offensive plan for the team…they just can’t execute it!  Perhaps it’s time to scrap that plan and simplify.  Is there something going on in her personal life that’s keeping her from performing up to snuff?  We’ve got to help her eliminate the causes of stress if possible.  If nothing works…maybe we’ve got to eliminate more and more of her playing time.

Can our team be rearranged into something else?:  Sometimes we’ll play a team that funnels eighty percent of their offense through a couple of players and I always wonder what they do when those players have bad days…besides lose, I mean.  For that player who has lost their mojo, the coaching staff can restructure the offensive season so that player doesn’t carry so much of the burden.

I got the idea for this post from a Psychology Today article about creative thinking and I can see how SCAMPER could initiate the creative thinking process.  Sometimes the obvious answer isn’t the best option and we’ve got to dig deeper.

How Knowing Your Personality Type Will Help You Manage Your Team

personalitytestcomicsource

As coaches, I think we all know that we’ve got different personality types on our team and I’m sure we’re all pretty conscious about how those personalities will interact.  When we bring recruits on to campus and we sit down and chat with them, we wonder about their “fit” with our teams…how their personalities will mesh with the current players.  Sometimes we don’t want to rock the boat and try to recruit like-minded players.  Other times, we want to shake things up a bit…whether it’s bringing more toughness or more fun…we know that the team needs a different makeup.

But do you think that your team recognizes that some folks are just made differently than them…with a whole different perspective on things?  I’ve used personality testing in the past with pretty good results, because the team gets to hear about themselves and also put the people that they know into categories.  The testing is pretty informative and can help them with their relationships outside of their team as well.

There are lots of personality tests out there: Myers-Briggs, colors, animals, and DiSC…and that’s the one that I use.  DiSC breaks the personalities down into four different categories.

D’s are dominant.  They’re what folks would call Type A personalities.  They like to get immediate results, make quick decisions and love to manage trouble and solve problems.  They’re decisive and competitive…natural born leaders.  That’s the good stuff.  The down side to D’s are that they are too self-reliant, the one’s who hate group projects in the classroom (can you see how that could negatively impact your team?!), and can be so blunt that they’re hurtful to others.

i’s are your people of influence.  They’re the one’s who everyone gravitates toward, the life of the party.  They’re your players who will pull the team aside in practice and fire them up if they feel that the effort isn’t where it should be.  They’re the folks who will immediately walk up to the newbies on your team and make them feel right at home.  i’s just need to remember that life isn’t all play and no work…that they’ve got to get down to business at some point.  And they try so hard to be everyone’s friend and not to hurt feelings that their teammates may not feel a true connection with them.

S’s are Steady Eddie’s.  They’re quiet, but very loyal and love the teaminess of teams…the one’s who stay on your team even though they know that they’ll never get any playing time.  They are skilled at calming an explosive situation and calming the scene down while others are freaking out.  S’s need to learn to assert themselves in group situations so that their teammates don’t overlook their contributions.  Since they can be overthinkers, S’s should learn the difference between the time for thinking and the time for acting.

C’s are your conscientious workers.  They’ll drill all day long and never feel as if they’ve gotten it down…they’re perfectionists.  C’s are good in the film room because they’re so analytical.  Come game time, they’ll know the opponents tendencies without a doubt.  Their downside is that they ask so many questions that they may drive their coach to drink!  And they have such high standards for themselves and their teammates that they may be destined to fail.

As you were reading this, I’m sure you were thinking of your team and where they fit.  Obviously, having a strong mix of folks is pretty key…but most important is that your team understands to positives and negatives of their personality and how they can be perceived by others.  Also, it’s pretty huge for us coaches to know the rough mixes.  Your D’s are going to think your i’s are screwing around too much and that your S’s need to toughen up.  Your i’s will constantly get their team in trouble for getting practice off-track with their incessant yapping.  Your S’s will either toughen up or continually get their feelings hurt by the too-blunt D’s and the hard-to-read C’s.  Speaking of C’s, should you deign to change the lineup or change a play without significant notice, get ready for their world to be spun off kilter and they’ll be pretty useless to you for a few plays.

Do you use personality tests with your team?  How do they respond?  At what point in the season do you administer your test?

Click here to learn how knowing your personality type will help you manage your team.

Using Personality Tests To Increase Your Team Chemistry

disc-testsource

As coaches, I think we all know that we’ve got different personality types on our team and I’m sure we’re all pretty conscious about how those personalities will interact.  When we bring recruits on to campus and we sit down and chat with them, we wonder about their “fit” with our teams…how their personalities will mesh with the current players.  Sometimes we don’t want to rock the boat and try to recruit like-minded players.  Other times, we want to shake things up a bit…whether it’s bringing more toughness or more fun…we know that the team needs a different makeup.

But do you think that your team recognizes that some folks are just made differently than them…with a whole different perspective on things?  I’ve used personality testing in the past with pretty good results, because the team gets to hear about themselves and also put the people that they know into categories.  The testing is pretty informative and can help them with their relationships outside of their team as well.

There are lots of personality tests out there: Myers-Briggs, colors, animals, and DiSC…and that’s the one that I use.  DiSC breaks the personalities down into four different categories.

D’s are dominant.  They’re what folks would call Type A personalities.  They like to get immediate results, make quick decisions and love to manage trouble and solve problems.  They’re decisive and competitive…natural born leaders.  That’s the good stuff.  The down side to D’s are that they are too self-reliant, the one’s who hate group projects in the classroom (can you see how that could negatively impact your team?!), and can be so blunt that they’re hurtful to others.

i’s are your people of influence.  They’re the one’s who everyone gravitates toward, the life of the party.  They’re your players who will pull the team aside in practice and fire them up if they feel that the effort isn’t where it should be.  They’re the folks who will immediately walk up to the newbies on your team and make them feel right at home.  i’s just need to remember that life isn’t all play and no work…that they’ve got to get down to business at some point.  And they try so hard to be everyone’s friend and not to hurt feelings that their teammates may not feel a true connection with them.

S’s are Steady Eddie’s.  They’re quiet, but very loyal and love the teaminess of teams…the one’s who stay on your team even though they know that they’ll never get any playing time.  They are skilled at calming an explosive situation and calming the scene down while others are freaking out.  S’s need to learn to assert themselves in group situations so that their teammates don’t overlook their contributions.  Since they can be overthinkers, S’s should learn the difference between the time for thinking and the time for acting.

C’s are your conscientious workers.  They’ll drill all day long and never feel as if they’ve gotten it down…they’re perfectionists.  C’s are good in the film room because they’re so analytical.  Come game time, they’ll know the opponents tendencies without a doubt.  Their downside is that they ask so many questions that they may drive their coach to drink!  And they have such high standards for themselves and their teammates that they may be destined to fail.

As you were reading this, I’m sure you were thinking of your team and where they fit.  Obviously, having a strong mix of folks is pretty key…but most important is that your team understands to positives and negatives of their personality and how they can be perceived by others.  Also, it’s pretty huge for us coaches to know the rough mixes.  Your D’s are going to think your i’s are screwing around too much and that your S’s need to toughen up.  Your i’s will constantly get their team in trouble for getting practice off-track with their incessant yapping.  Your S’s will either toughen up or continually get their feelings hurt by the too-blunt D’s and the hard-to-read C’s.  Speaking of C’s, should you deign to change the lineup or change a play without significant notice, get ready for their world to be spun off kilter and they’ll be pretty useless to you for a few plays.

Do you use personality tests with your team?  How do they respond?  At what point in the season do you administer your test?

Click here to learn how knowing your personality type will help you manage your team.

As coaches, I think we all know that we’ve got different personality types on our team and I’m sure we’re all pretty conscious about how those personalities will interact.  When we bring recruits on to campus and we sit down and chat with them, we wonder about their “fit” with our teams…how their personalities will mesh with the current players.  Sometimes we don’t want to rock the boat and try to recruit like-minded players.  Other times, we want to shake things up a bit…whether it’s bringing more toughness or more fun…we know that the team needs a different makeup.

But do you think that your team recognizes that some folks are just made differently than them…with a whole different perspective on things?  I’ve used personality testing in the past with pretty good results, because the team gets to hear about themselves and also put the people that they know into categories.  The testing is pretty informative and can help them with their relationships outside of their team as well.

There are lots of personality tests out there: Myers-Briggs, colors, animals, and DiSC…and that’s the one that I use.  DiSC breaks the personalities down into four different categories.

D’s are dominant.  They’re what folks would call Type A personalities.  They like to get immediate results, make quick decisions and love to manage trouble and solve problems.  They’re decisive and competitive…natural born leaders.  That’s the good stuff.  The down side to D’s are that they are too self-reliant, the one’s who hate group projects in the classroom (can you see how that could negatively impact your team?!), and can be so blunt that they’re hurtful to others.

i’s are your people of influence.  They’re the one’s who everyone gravitates toward, the life of the party.  They’re your players who will pull the team aside in practice and fire them up if they feel that the effort isn’t where it should be.  They’re the folks who will immediately walk up to the newbies on your team and make them feel right at home.  i’s just need to remember that life isn’t all play and no work…that they’ve got to get down to business at some point.  And they try so hard to be everyone’s friend and not to hurt feelings that their teammates may not feel a true connection with them.

S’s are Steady Eddie’s.  They’re quiet, but very loyal and love the teaminess of teams…the one’s who stay on your team even though they know that they’ll never get any playing time.  They are skilled at calming an explosive situation and calming the scene down while others are freaking out.  S’s need to learn to assert themselves in group situations so that their teammates don’t overlook their contributions.  Since they can be overthinkers, S’s should learn the difference between the time for thinking and the time for acting.

C’s are your conscientious workers.  They’ll drill all day long and never feel as if they’ve gotten it down…they’re perfectionists.  C’s are good in the film room because they’re so analytical.  Come game time, they’ll know the opponents tendencies without a doubt.  Their downside is that they ask so many questions that they may drive their coach to drink!  And they have such high standards for themselves and their teammates that they may be destined to fail.

As you were reading this, I’m sure you were thinking of your team and where they fit.  Obviously, having a strong mix of folks is pretty key…but most important is that your team understands to positives and negatives of their personality and how they can be perceived by others.  Also, it’s pretty huge for us coaches to know the rough mixes.  Your D’s are going to think your i’s are screwing around too much and that your S’s need to toughen up.  Your i’s will constantly get their team in trouble for getting practice off-track with their incessant yapping.  Your S’s will either toughen up or continually get their feelings hurt by the too-blunt D’s and the hard-to-read C’s.  Speaking of C’s, should you deign to change the lineup or change a play without significant notice, get ready for their world to be spun off kilter and they’ll be pretty useless to you for a few plays.

Do you use personality tests with your team?  How do they respond?  At what point in the season do you administer your test?

Click here to learn how knowing your personality type will help you manage your team.

– See more at: http://coachdawnwrites.com/category/personality-tests/#sthash.9A1Rv97O.dpuf

Coaches Corner: Managing Assistant Coaches

coaching staffsource

Sam Shweisky, the head men’s volleyball coach at Princeton University, is in a unique position.  He’s the head coach for the men and the assistant coach for the women’s program.  I wondered if that gave him a more in-depth outlook on the role of assistant coaches.

So what makes a good assistant coach?  Of course we want someone with knowledge of our sport and, logistically, we want someone who we can rely on to attend practices and competitions when they’ve said they could. Those are just the basics, is there more.

3 qualities of a great assistant coach

  1. Loyalty.  We’re all looking for that assistant coach who is proud to wear our school’s name on their shirt.  The person who understands the traits we look for in representatives of our institution and is willing to fall in line with those expectations.  Someone who’ll stay around for a reasonable amount of time and who will support us behind the scenes.
  2. Common voice.  Speaking of supporting us, a great assistant supports their head coach with the athletes…no matter what.  I’m not saying you can’t have heated debates as a coaching staff behind closed doors.  Hopefully your assistant coaches feel comfortable voicing their opinion and you, as head coach, have created an atmosphere where divergent opinions are welcome.  But once your players are around, we’re all singing from the same hymnal.
  3. Nurturing.  The head coach doesn’t always get to be the nice guy.  Sometimes we have to point out the inconsistencies between team goals and effort level in practice, sometimes we have to bench a player, sometimes we have to have hard conversations.  That’s when the great assistant coach steps in to make sure the athlete can see their way to success, because sometimes, those tough conversations can cloud their vision.



4 ways to manage assistant coaches

  1. Give them a role.  Whether you’re lucky enough to have full-time assistants or you’re making it work with part-timers, they should know their value to the team.  It’s good for them and the team will respect them more if they have a designated role.
  2. Coaches meetings.  Have regular meetings or check-ins with your assistants to make sure you are all on the same page.  It could be that you’ve decided that, as a staff, you’re going to be tough on your team, or that you’re going to focus on only one correction for a particular time period.  Whatever it is, everyone’s got to know what’s going on.
  3. In game responsibilities.  The beauty of assistant coaches is they are a set of willing extra hands.  Depending on the level of support at your institution, your game day responsibilities could be great.  Maybe your assistant has to help set up your game space, or set up the camera so that the game can be filmed, or do stats.  During the game, give them at least one thing to do during warmup and in game…those responsibilities will make them feel useful and needed.
  4. Ask for feedback.  My assistant and I speak after each practice, even if it’s just for a few moments.  We talk about what went well and what didn’t, what we need to keep working on, and personnel issues.  We’ve both been known to say, “feel free to say this is crazy, but…”.  Having a great assistant coach as a sounding board is priceless.




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!

Coaches Corner: An In-Depth Feedback Process

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I was intrigued by Sam Shweisky’s feedback process he uses with his Princeton men’s volleyball team.  It is a pretty involved system of questionnaires, reflections, and meetings.  But the goal is simple: it shows his players how to appropriately handle authority.  Shweisky’s system also allows his team a way to give their opinion in a respectful manner.

What his feedback system is:

  • A way for players to give feedback and constructive criticism.
  • A time for his team to discuss what they did and didn’t like during the season.
  • A way for Shweisky and his players to discuss how he can best coach them.
  • An opportunity for players to let him know what they wish the team would do.



What his feedback system is not:

  • A time to complain without solutions.



As I listened to Shweisky explain his system, I worried that the meetings would become a time to complain, but he says it’s just the opposite.  Once his players got used to the process, they became very thoughtful.  So rather than lashing out in anger during a practice or whining about things in the locker room, they knew their time to be heard would be coming…but in a more appropriate location, his office.

His feedback system requires coaches to be open to listening, really listening, to their teams because it encourages dialog.  I think today’s athlete would respond well to a process that helps them feel like they’re being heard.  I can be honest and say this is an area that I can improve upon in my own coaching.  This generation of athlete is used to sharing their opinion in every other facet of their lives, I think it’s time for us coaches to make a shift in that area.