Tag Archives: Kelly Sheffield

Coaches Corner: Four Things To Think About When Considering A New Job

new jobsource

Kelly Sheffield believes in where he is right now. He believes that he can win at the University of Wisconsin and he believes he can convince talented volleyball players to join him there. I’m sure you’re thinking, “Well, who wouldn’t believe in a Big Ten school?” True enough, but his move to Wisconsin and the elite levels of volleyball wasn’t, in my opinion, a no-brainer. He was very successful at his previous institution and that success showed no signs of waning.

So I asked him about it. What advice would he give to coaches who think they’re ready to take that next step? How did he know the time was right to leave the comfort of his successful situation for the unknown of Wisconsin?

Before Sheffield answered, he was sure to give me a parenthetical note: If you’re a new coach and just trying to break into the coaching ranks…take any job. Just start coaching, you haven’t earned the right to be picky.

Are you ready to take another job?

  • Be honest with yourself. Coaches have to be honest about what will make them happy and not just do what they’re supposed to do. The move has to be good for you, your family, and your career.
  • Do you believe in your potential new location?   Will your boss advocate for you? Will the institution fund success or mediocrity? Can you see success in your mind’s eye or do you view the job as a stepping stone?
  • What goals does the administration have for the program? If you sit down in your interview and lay out how you can bring a conference/national championship to the institution and then the folks interviewing you say they just want a team above .500, you have different goals. With a major difference in objectives, you will be destined to figuratively bang your head against a wall.
  • How will your working relationship with your direct boss play out? They are the folks who will advocate for you and your program. There’s a finite amount of money within athletic departments and your boss has to be on your side when it comes to program needs.



Good luck to those of you thinking of making a location, or maybe even career, change. Hopefully, these words of wisdom can help clarify your decision.

Check out the Sheffield series:
Coaches Corner: Kelly Sheffield
Coaches Corner: Get Comfortable Being Uncomfortable
Coaches Corner: What Does Enthusiasm Look Like?
Coaches Corner: The Roles Of Player And Coach


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: The Roles Of Player And Coach

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As I mentioned before, I’m a Badger alum, so I watch their volleyball team with a more attentive eye than other programs.  Because I know the type of team Kelly Sheffield inherited, I am more than amazed at the turnaround he spearheaded.  So I asked him about some of the critical things he and his coaching staff did that helped to create a much more successful team.  Check out what he had to say.

The coach’s role

  • Consistency.  Sheffield says his team should never worry about what kind of mood he’s in.  Monday’s the same as Thursday, after a win is the same as after a loss.
  • Knowledge.  I think it goes without saying that we’ve got to know what we’re talking about and staying up to date on the latest training methods.
  • Energy and enthusiasm.  That looks like lots of player feedback, coaches engaged with athletes…not chatting with one another.



The player’s role

  • Connect with teammates.  Sheffield expects high energy and enthusiasm from his athletes.  If he’s bringing it, he expects to see it from players as well.
  • Put personal traits aside.  He says that it’s tough to be an introvert in a team sport.  I wrote about some techniques to work with the introverts on your team a while back, you should check it out.  Studies say that 75% of folks are extroverts, so it’s easy to see why those traits are valued in leaders.
  • Be an active participant in their own rescue.  If something’s going wrong—on or off the court—the player has a responsibility to seek help.  Whether it’s coming in for extra reps on their own or, if it’s a classroom issue, seeking out tutors.  Whatever it is, coaches aren’t psychic, players have to help us out.



Success is sometimes a moving target, but these tips should help us all to start down the right path.

Check out the Sheffield series:
Coaches Corner: Kelly Sheffield
Coaches Corner: Get Comfortable Being Uncomfortable
Coaches Corner: What Does Enthusiasm Look Like?
Coaches Corner: Four Things To Think About When Considering A New Job


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: What Does Enthusiasm Look Like?

enthusiasmsource

Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm.—Ralph Waldo Emerson

Maybe in your life, you get a chance to chat on the phone with incredibly successful Big Ten coaches, but it is quite the thrill for me.  Speaking to Kelly Sheffield, the head volleyball coach at the University of Wisconsin, was awesome.  He made me want to be seventeen years old again, so that I could pick the Badgers all over again.  He oozes enthusiasm.  For the sport.  For our profession.  For his athletes.  And for his institution.

I’d read an interview of his where he talked about his team practicing with intensity and enthusiasm.  So I asked him, what does that look like?  If I were to walk into his gym, what would I see that would make me think of those two qualities?

If you’ve been a reader for a while, you know that my man John Wooden was big on enthusiasm.  In fact, it was one of the cornerstones of his Pyramid of Success.  I’ve been on the enthusiasm bandwagon for a while now and it was nice to have a big-time coach affirm that I’m on the right track.

What tangible qualities does enthusiasm produce?

  • From the players: Connection.  He’s not just talking about hanging out and having fun with one another…it’s more than that.  It happens when there’s a mistake in a drill. The players must immediately connect so that it doesn’t happen again.
  • For the fans: Inspiration.  I went to a major Division One volleyball game a few years ago and the place was electric.  The students were fired up, the band was rocking, and the teams were playing at an absolutely amazing level…the energy was palpable.  A few years later, I went to watch that same institution play and it was crickets in their gym.  The players were flat so, in response, so was the crowd.
  • From the coaches: Passion.  I’m going to talk about this in the next post, but coaches have to bring consistent energy.  If I walked into Sheffield’s gym, I’d see engaged coaches who are actively working with their athletes, not just standing there observing.



Clearly skill and knowledge are important, but enthusiasm can unlock the door to bigger and better things for our athletes.

Check out the Sheffield series:
Coaches Corner: Kelly Sheffield
Coaches Corner: Get Comfortable Being Uncomfortable
Coaches Corner: The Roles Of Player And Coach
Coaches Corner: Four Things To Think About When Considering A New Job

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: Get Comfortable Being Uncomfortable

Reaching Full Potential Speedometer Tracking Goalsource

“Reaching your potential can’t ever be comfortable.”
—Kelly Sheffield, Head Women’s Volleyball Coach, University of Wisconsin

I read an interview with Sheffield where he said he expects his players to immerse themselves in the process of getting better and I loved that phrase.  There’s ownership required from the player and a level of expectation set from the coach.  And that’s how we got to the quotation I put at the beginning of the post.  Surely, we all want our players to reach their potential, but the process of getting better is oftentimes harder than our athletes think it will be.

So how do we get them there?

First things first, they’ve got to buy what we’re selling.  Sheffield was in a different position with his team, because he was in his first year with them.  But I think we should always remind our athletes about those things that we hold in high esteem…whether we’re in our first or twenty-second year.

  • What is your vision?  This could be a goal of winning the conference or it could be a GPA goal you have for your team.
  • What culture does your program have?  I just got back from evaluating a player at a tournament.  After seeing what I needed to see from her, I got caught up in watching another court.  The players weren’t engaged…with each other or the coach.  As a matter of fact, they seemed to hate the sport of volleyball!  That’s a culture and it has been created. Since we’re in charge, let’s be sure not to create this sort of environment.
  • What kind of coach are you? Do You! as Russell Simmons says and own it.  If you’re fiery, contemplative, stats geek, tough, nurturing…whatever your style, be comfortable with it, because it’s the only way your players will know what to expect from you.



Once they’ve bought in, they’ve got to trust you.  They don’t need to trust you to start them.  Helping our athletes to reach their potential isn’t some sort of weird contract (if I work hard, then you’ll play me a lot), it’s truly for the benefit of the team…and by default, the benefit of the individual athlete.  Areas where we should be trusted include:

  • Do you believe in their skills?
  • Do you believe they can get better?
  • Do they believe you care about them as people?



Finally, they’ve got a choice to make.  As Sheffield says, our athletes can “make the decision to be extraordinary.”  It’s a daily decision our players must make.  To work hard.  To accept coaching.  To fail.  To keep trying.  If they make these decisions, they’ll be on the road to reaching their potential.

Want more Sheffield?  Check out:
Coaches Corner: Kelly Sheffield
Coaches Corner: What Does Enthusiasm Look Like?
Coaches Corner: The Roles Of Player And Coach
Coaches Corner: Four Things To Think About When Considering A New Job


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: Kelly Sheffield

kelly sheffieldsource

I’m excited to start a new series called Coaches Corner.  I’ve had the idea to connect with my fellow coaches in a meaningful way for a while now.  I finally decided to go for it.  I put my list of coaches I’d like to chat with together and started reaching out to them.  I’ll be talking to Division I, II, and III coaches.  Even club coaches and high school coaches.  If they’ve been successful, I want to know why!  In true Amazing Coach-style, each one of them was very open to having the conversation and no one “big timed” me.

I’m starting with Kelly Sheffield, the Head Women’s Volleyball Coach at the University of Wisconsin.  Full disclosure, I played at Wisconsin, so I’ve got a special place in my heart for the Badgers.  I didn’t play for Sheffield, though, (that would make me a whole heck of a lot younger than I am!) and was interested in how he managed to turn a floundering team into a runner-up in the championship game…in his first season!

UW finished 28-10 in Sheffield’s first season, an 11-win improvement from 2012, ranking second in both final national polls.  In his first year, Sheffield set the bar high. As the Badgers’ rookie coach, he led the upstart UW to the NCAA championship match, one of only three head coaches to lead their teams to the final match in their first seasons.

If you think his resume is impressive, wait until you see what he has to say about coaching!  Here are a few of the things he talked about.  Quite honestly, I could write ten posts about what he said, but I’ll restrain myself.

  • Everyone has a role, both player and coach.
  • On the importance of energy and enthusiasm.
  • Why players need to get comfortable being uncomfortable.
  • What to look for when you’re ready for the next job.



See you next time.  Be sure to bring a pen and paper, because you’ll want to take notes from all of these great coaches!

The Kelly Sheffield series
Coaches Corner: Get Comfortable Being Uncomfortable
Coaches Corner: What Does Enthusiasm Look Like?
Coaches Corner: The Roles Of Player And Coach
Coaches Corner: Four Things To Think About When Considering A New Job


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!