Tag Archives: Christy Johnson-Lynch

Coaches Corner: Building Trust With Your Athletes

build trustsource

Trust is built over time. A coach can’t sit down with a player and say, “I need you to trust me” and have it be done. Trust is built on actions, follow-through, and honesty. I talked to Christy Johnson-Lynch, the head volleyball coach at Iowa State University, about how she manages to have great relationships with her players.

3 tips to build trust with your athletes

Formally.  It’s a given that you should have individual meetings with your players. I usually meet with my players at the beginning, middle, and end of the season.

Informally.  Maybe some days you grab a player after practice. Or you send someone a text and tell them they did a good job. Or maybe you’re able to eat at the student dining hall and chat casually with your players in that setting.

Be authentic. When I introduced Johnson-Lynch, I commented on her humble nature. If I didn’t know her and I hadn’t seen her incredible success, I’d be skeptical that someone with her temperament could win in big-time athletics. I asked her how she handles competing against much more “in your face” coaches and she said she’s learned that confidence comes in different shapes and she just needs to be herself. Clearly it’s working for her!

These three tips are great starting points for any coach…be yourself and build relationships.

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: 3 Ways To Overcome Challenges

overcome challengessource

For most of us, the biggest challenge we’ll face as coaches is trying to land a high-profile recruit, reframe a weakness your team has, or beat an insanely good team. But in 2010, Christy Johnson-Lynch faced a bigger challenge. She, her volleyball team, and the greater Iowa State University community experienced a debilitating flood…the week preseason was supposed to start. You can check out this twenty-second video to see what the water did to their gym. She ended up playing that season at a local high school.

So she has learned a thing or two about facing and overcoming challenges…both of the expected and unexpected variety.

Here are three tips Johnson-Lynch has to help us all deal with adversity when it strikes:

  1. Put a good face on. When I asked her about a big win her team had against a big-time opponent, she commented that your team really has to believe you think an obstacle can be beaten. She says that she wakes up and says to herself, “today is an amazing day, this is the day we’re going to beat insert-tough-opponent-here.” Your team can pick up on your belief, preparation, and body language…make sure it’s good.
  2. Embrace it. Johnson-Lynch says she and her team are driven by a “what’s next?” attitude. Meaning, okay, we’ve overcome this obstacle and we’re ready for whatever is coming up for us. Whether you walk into your gym and it’s covered in water or you have a five-foot-tall center on your basketball team, you understand that it’s just a challenge to be overcome.
  3. Look for the silver lining. When I asked her specifically about the flood, Johnson-Lynch actually said it was good for the team, because it helped them focus on what really mattered. I’m sure a lot of that statement is hindsight talking, but I’m also sure her mindset helped her players move forward.



Most times, challenging situations aren’t things we can readily change, so understanding how to frame them for our athletes is paramount. Coaches (obviously) have value. We teach the X’s and O’s and equip our athletes with the skills they need in order to compete. But the best thing we can teach our players is how to face and overcome adversity.

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: Christy Johnson-Lynch

Christy J-Lsource

I met Christy Johnson-Lynch, head volleyball coach at Iowa State University, years ago when she was an assistant coach. Not only is she an amazing coach, she’s an impossibly humble person. Because quite honestly, she’s got many reasons to have a big head.

She was a two-time all-American at the University of Nebraska, won a national championship while she was there, and played professionally after college. As a coach, she’s coached seventeen all-Americans and been a national coach of the year. When she got to Iowa State, they’d had nine consecutive losing seasons and now she’s the winningest volleyball coach in their school’s history.

She’s the coach the rest of us coaches are jealous of because she’s never (I mean never) been unsuccessful. She would, because of the aforementioned humility, disagree with that statement.

Stay tuned for more on Johnson-Lynch’s interview:

  • On being a big-time, yet modest, coach
  • Managing team expectations
  • Building trust with your players



See you next time!

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!