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Zen And The Two Games Coaches PlaySunday, March 31st, 2013

by Dr. Mike Davenport

Coaches play games. I don’t mean that in a bad, derogatory sense.

But the truth is we coaches play games. Two games in fact. Two games that make a difference.

James Carse wrote about those two games at length in his book, Finite and Infinite Games, A Vision of Life as Play and Possibility. He details how those games are the essence of what every coach does, and has done, since the first coach started hollering. Understanding these two games can have a significant impact on how you coach, how well you coach, how long you coach, and the enjoyment you derive from your coaching.


The first game is called the Finite Game. It is played for the purpose of winning. Bluntly, the Finite Game IS the sport we coach. The goal of the Finite Game is to win, to score the most points, be the fastest, strongest, toughest. Be the top. Someone wins and everyone else loses.

In the Finite Game there are rules. There is a time limit. It is played out on a defined area, within boundaries. And the people who participate choose to do so. For many coaches playing the Finite Game is what attracts us to coaching.

The second game is different. Quite different.


The purpose of the Infinite Game is development. The goal of an Infinite Game is to move people and things forward to a better future. It is plain. It is simple. In an Infinite Game there really are no rules, no time limit. It is played out everywhere, at anytime, any place. Improvement is the name of the game, and this game never stops.

SO WHAT? Why should you care?

Several reasons why, but let’s look at two of the most critical:

First, the goals of the two games, because they are different, can cause great conflict. Finite Games want to win, everything else is secondary. Infinite Games want development — the win may be important but more often than not the win is meaningless. And that’s the conflict so many coaches stumble on — those goals can be at odds.

One of your stars is in your office the day before the big game. “Coach, there is a speaker coming to campus this afternoon. I really want to attend the talk. This could help me get my dream job next year. I need to miss practice today.” A Finite Game playing-coach blows up. “WHAT THE HECK ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT … !!” and it goes from there. An Infinite Game playing-coach says, “What a great opportunity for you!”

I am not suggesting either response is better, but knowing about the two games can help a coach find a way forward while staying true to herself, helping the athlete, being positive.

The second reason you should care is in addition to the internal conflict that can be generated, external conflict also can arise. If you are an Infinite Game playing-coach (development is more important than winning) and you coach for an organization that is Finite Game focused, you are facing a rocky road. One possibly littered with deep and dark potholes.


The Wild World of Coaching Sports can be a wonderful place yet there are dangers and hazards. Knowing what lurks in the dark corners, what surprises can jump out to scare you, the difficulties that can arise, is critical. Knowing about the two games can make coaching more enjoyable, and help you be a better coach.

Something to think about, and Carse’s book might be a worthwhile read if you plan on staying in coaching any length of time. As you might guess, conflict can arise when coaches play both games. As coaches we are judged by our Finite Game results.


Habits Are For the Short RunMonday, March 25th, 2013

by Ellen Sawin, NCSA Athletic Recruiting

What do John Wooden, Anson Dorrance, Bill Bowerman, Sue Enquist and Russ Rose have in common?

All of these coaches established historic programs in their respective sports.

They established brands: UCLA Basketball, UNC Soccer, Oregon Track & Field, UCLA Softball and Penn State Volleyball.

Seth Godin, one of America’s greatest marketing experts, publishes a daily marketing blog with tips and tricks for people trying to establish a brand, something those coaches were and are experts at. As a college coach, you need to think like a marketing guru:  How are you going to establish a brand, and how are you going to establish your team? How are you going to reach the hundreds of thousands of athletes online that might be perfect for your program?

Last week Godin wrote about habits. He started off by listing a handful of common habits (both good and bad). He mentioned, “The habit of wasting time in meetings … the habit of doing more than promised … the habit of skepticism … the habit of generosity,” and more.

And then at bottom of the message he included the profound statement, “There’s a million habits out there, some good, some bad, all learned. Every habit (your market, your family, your organization has) was formed because people got rewarded for it, at least in the short run.”

As a coach, and as a recruiter, you’ve developed habits. Just like any other person, you have both good and bad habits, but all, as Godin stated, “learned.” You’ve learned and developed these habits as a coach because they’ve paid off for you in some way, “at least in the short run.”

But establishing a brand, (a program with a strong history, a team name and record that will be remembered for its strength) isn’t about the short run. As you recruit athletes, and even as you coach your team every day, be aware of your habits. Are you only doing something now because at one time it provided instant gratification? Or is what you’re doing continuing to strengthen the foundation of your program at your college?

Take a look at your routine, at your recruiting day-to-day. Are you in a rut? Have you developed bad habits? If so, you might have to change part of your recruiting process. You could start recruiting online, using a cutting-edge organization like NCSA Athletic Recruiting to speed up and simplify your recruiting process. It doesn’t mean what you did in the past was wrong, it just means you need to move forward. And even though breaking habits often sounds daunting, Godin hit the nail on the head when he finished his advice by saying, “every habit is changeable with effort.”

Using a trusted online resource to build your recruiting list is something thousands of coaches did last year.  The result?  More recruits with verified information and HD video to view.  Coaches who lament not being able to recruit out of area, or who have trouble getting basic contact information from prospects, won’t experience those problems with NCSA Athletic Recruiting.


The Question to Ask If Your Recruit Is Waiting for MoneyMonday, March 18th, 2013

The Spring is an odd time of year for coaches who aren’t able to offer full athletic scholarships to their prospects (which includes the vast majority of college coaches around the country).

You have the interest of your recruit, they’ve applied to your school, they know you want them.  And so now, you wait.

You’re waiting for either one of two things:  Either your prospects are finishing-up their Senior seasons and are quietly hoping for other amazing offers from schools who have somehow missed them up to this point, or they are submitting their FAFSA information and are now waiting to get the “official” word from financial aid across campus as to what their “final number” is.

And the wait can be excruciating.

You have decisions to make, but of course you understand and appreciate why it’s a tough decision to make at this point in the early Spring without all of the “official” financial aid information in place.

The result?  Most coaches in this situation choose to wait – albeit somewhat impatiently – for the process to run it’s course and eventually get their answer right before the start of Summer.  That’s stressful for the coach, and doesn’t do much to solidify your recruiting class as early as possible.

I’m not claiming that the following advice will be the cure for everything that ails you when it comes to this tricky scenario, but there is a question I’d recommend asking that might just give you the answers you’re looking for (even if financial aid isn’t done crunching numbers yet).

Here’s what to ask:

“If the final number comes in around what we’re estimating it will, do you see yourself making us your number one choice?”

Simple and direct, this is one of the questions that we’re seeing work well to get a prospect to open-up and divulge what they are thinking, and which way they and their family is leaning as they make their final decision.

You can also ask effective variations of this question:

  • “If you don’t end up getting a scholarship offer from that other program, do you see yourself making us your number one choice?”
  • “If you visit that other campus next week and don’t feel like you fit in, do you see yourself making us your number one choice?”

There are a couple of key components in this type of question that are important to understand.  First, understand that this is what would be referred to as a “soft close” in the business world…you aren’t asking them for a decision, but you are asking them a question that indicates where they are leaning.  That can be valuable information if you’re trying to determine your incoming recruiting class.  Secondly, make sure you ask them if they “see” themselves making you their top choice.  If you’ve hosted us on your campus for one of our two or three day workshops, you already know about the important psychological reasons for not asking “what do you think”, so using that terminology I just outlined is a must if you want to achieve maximum effectiveness.

One more thing: Don’t make the mistake of feeling awkward about asking this question, or other procedural question as they go through the decision making process.  Most recruits we survey say they want some kind of help and leading towards the end of this long and winding recruiting road, so opening up the conversation about how and why they are making the decision can be a difference-maker for you down the stretch.

For years, coaches have relied on two foundational recruiting guides to help formulate intelligent, cutting-edge recruiting strategies.  Want to find out more about making these two guides part of your coaching library?…CLICK HERE

How Listening To Your Stomach Can Make You A Better CoachSunday, March 17th, 2013

by Dr. Mike Davenport


Whatever you’re doing, take a break.

Put your mind in reverse and flashback to all the things you’ve done as a coach. Your accomplishments, your successes. The good and the bad.

Chances are you used the perspective of winning to do this review.


A win/loss record is how most coaches filter their career. It’s not wrong, but that perspective may just miss the true measure of the value of a coach.

Let’s try a different lens, one that might offer you some unique insights into your coaching and who you are. Let’s look back using gut churn.


Jad Abumrad is a huge success. Deservedly so. His show, Radiolab (www.radiolab.org), is considered pure genius by many and Abumrad, the talent behind the show has many awards for what he’s achieved.

Yet during the process of creating Radiolab there were many times when Abumrad had to kick in his fight response. There were times when the show should have been canceled because of lack of funding. There were times when the future wasn’t clear. There were times when he wasn’t quite sure what the heck he was doing.

And during those times he had what he describes as gut churn.

Gut churn is the feeling when the body shuts down the digestive process. It’s an involuntary response to help us get to the next level.

For example, the brain says, “Whoa, we’re being chased by a lion!” Everything not important gets turned off, like digesting that cheeseburger you just ate. Resources are allocated. Digestion is shut off. Churn happens.


Regardless of how long you been coaching, I bet you’ve had churn. For most coaches, it comes with the territory.

When you are deeply engaged in something meaningful the churn can kick in. For the first five years of my coaching I threw up every contest. Every-single-contest. I did not want to, I had to. My gut churn was off the chart.

Yet, when I look back at my career (over 33 years) through the lens of gut churn I notice things much more important than the contests ever were:

  • The churn was there during the conversation with the athlete about her dying father.
  • While I pitched a new coaching-education program to my school’s administration I had gut churn.
  • I remember the churn while telling an extremely talented athlete she could no longer participate due to an addiction.

Here lies the value of gut churn as a filter.


I’m not complaining about being evaluated by a win/loss record. I get that. It’s important.

What I am suggesting is that what we do as a coach transcends the contest. I could make a list, a huge list, of what coaches do that doesn’t relate to THE contest. I bet you could also. However, too often we get mired down by that pesky win/loss record. Gut churn can give you insight into what you truly consider important, stressful, valuable.

To help you improve your career it might be invaluable to reflect back through the lens of gut churn. Sometimes we can learn by listening to our stomach.

The author Mike Davenport has been coaching 33 years and has learned to love all aspects of coaching (yes, even the ups, the downs, and the losses.) He writes about professional sustainability for coaches over at  www.coachingsportstoday.com and will be a featured instructor at the upcoming National Collegiate Recruiting Conference.

What Marketing Experts Can Teach Us About Recruiting MaterialsSunday, March 17th, 2013

by Sean Devlin, Front Rush

People like to look at other people. More specifically, people like to look at other people’s faces. It’s true…we are drawn to them.

We are drawn to other people’s faces regardless if they are actual pictures or if they are cartoons or simply a circle with a few lines. We are psychologically predisposed to it. Our brain ‘lights up’ when we recognize something as a face or even if something resembles a face. How many times have you seen Abraham Lincoln in a rock formation or in a cloud? It’s true and now you recognize it…and so do marketers. There is a reason that many ads have big pictures of faces. You are more likely to interact with it. Eye tracking studies (which are studies where websites track what part of the page you look at) show that users will focus on the parts of the page that have pictures of faces.

So that’s cool. You know what else is cool? People tend to look where the ‘faces’ are looking. So for example, if you have some content on a web page…let’s say it’s about a big win and you have a picture of a ‘face’ looking at that content…readers are more likely to look at that content. They are following the eye of the ‘face’. Psychology.

So how do you take advantage of this? Well think about your “marketing” materials. Are you using faces to attract the attention of your intended readers? Are your materials going to stand out relative to your competition? Something to think about.

Note: You can provide psychological techniques to get people to look at your stuff, but you need the content to back it up. You can ‘trick’ people to look at your info but if you don’t have quality content, they won’t fall for it twice.



Getting Recruits to Drink Your Outrageously Expensive Bottled WaterMonday, March 11th, 2013

If you’re  a college recruiter who is regularly trying to overcome the cost of your college with your prospect, I give you the $7.50 bottle of water.

When I checked into my hotel room, there is was…waiting for me (and my wallet).

I am old enough to remember when bottled water was a novelty.  In fact, it was a joke.  “Yeah right”, I remember thinking back in the olden days, “pay for water I could get for free from the faucet?  Good luck with that scam.”

A few decades later, the joke’s on me.  Bottled water is the norm.  So much so that there were actually a few moments when I considered breaking the seal of the hotel bottled water, and adding the $7.50 onto my room bill.

So, how did I get to this point?  How did I almost drink a $7.50 bottle of water when I once considered it highway robbery?

If you can answer that question, then you’re on your way to figuring out the formula for selling the cost of your program, or not being able to offer a full scholarship, to your recruits.

I can barely figure out my own motives for almost drinking a bottle of water that would equal a few gallons of gas in cost, so I’m not about to suggest that there is a blanket one-size-fits-all strategy or set of answers that will work in every situation.  But I think I do have a good understanding of how our human nature works, and after seeing several hundred recruiting scenarios up-close and personal with the cost of a college at the core of a discussion between coaches and the parents and athlete, I have come up with some solid ideas on why I believe you can win this particular conversation with your recruits.

Or, in other words, how to get your recruits (and their parents) to take a sip of your $7.50 bottle of water:

First, accept the fact that some people aren’t going to drink your $7.50 bottle of water. Either they can’t afford it, or they know they can get it cheaper (or for free) somewhere else.  If you aren’t ready to walk away from a prospect because they just aren’t buying the idea of paying a significant sum for your water, that probably means you aren’t seriously recruiting enough good prospects.  If you had an over-abundance of top tier recruits, you wouldn’t care if they weren’t interested in your expensive water.  If that’s not the case with you, it’s time to take a look in the mirror and ask yourself if you’re recruiting enough really good athletes.

You can change the paradigm with repeated exposure. Remember the first time you saw a bottle of water for sale in a hotel room?  You probably rolled your eyes like I did.  Fast forward to today.  Now, when you see a bottle of water in a hotel room, not only is it not an oddity, it’s something you probably treat yourself to during your stay.  What happened?  Repeated exposure.  You’ve come to accept it as “acceptable”.  So, how do you use this principle to improve your recruiting argument?  Repeated exposure.  You need to tell your recruits, through repeated messaging on a consistent basis, why it would be smart to invest in your college and your program.  Not enough coaches do that the right way, and it shows in the number of kids (and parents) that choose “cheaper” over the best choice.

We’ve been told what to think. Bottled water is cleaner, more purified, more convenient and better tasting, right?  Sometimes, yes.  Much of the time, no. But we’ve given up thinking on our own when it comes to bottled water.  Water bottlers have told us that it’s better, and why.  My favorite bottled water is Dasani, which is bottled by CocaCola.  That refreshingly clean looking blue bottle with the little water droplets on the bottle made from formed plastic – as well as that pinch of salt they add for flavoring – make it number one for me.  They have told me how to think about in the way it looks, the way it tastes, and the way it’s presented.  So, Coach…how good of a job are you doing with your recruits in telling them how to think about your bottled water in the way you and your program looks, the way it feels, and the way you present it?  Make sure you have an answer to those three questions, Coach.  And make a point of telling them what to think.

Understand that they might have the money, but just aren’t sure they want to spend it on your water. Did I have $7.50 to spend on water? Sure I did.  I ended up paying $12 for a bowl of oatmeal the next morning at the hotel’s over-priced cafe, so the money wasn’t an issue.  It’s just that I didn’t want to pay the $7.50 for water.  See the distinction?  So when you hear a family talk about not being able to afford your school, or how they just can’t compete for you unless you cover more of their scholarship, understand that they are probably making car payments, house payments, and may even take nice vacations a few times a year.  Furthermore, if that bigger brand school offered a walk-on spot for them at the last minute, chances are they’ll be able to somehow make the sacrifice and pony-up the cash for that college experience.  I’ll say it again: More times than you think your prospect has the money, they just don’t want to spend it on you.  (So, what can you tell them consistently and creatively that get them to cost-justify the expense in their mind?)

There are some big things they DON’T care about when it comes to your bottled water. The vast majority of the time, they don’t care about how many bottles you sold last year, the quality of the facility that it was bottled in, who else is drinking it, or even how convenient it is for them to access the water.  In the same way, most recruits – according to our ongoing research – won’t make their decision based on your facility, your record, who else is on your team, or how big your campus is.  It’s about how you relate to them as their coach and if you are consistent in the way you communicate why they should choose your program over others, and if they feel like they are a fit in your program based on the plan that you outline for them (or that they outline for themselves).  Are you focusing on the stuff that they don’t care about, or those two big ideas that we know matters most to them?  That’s a serious question, Coach.

Like I said, that’s not an exhaustive list.  And I’m not conceding the idea that once in a while, a prospect is going to say your facility just wasn’t as good as the other program recruiting them (they’re more than likely just using it as an excuse to cover-up another real objection, but that’s another topic for another day). However, these core ideas on “why they aren’t drinking your bottled water” are proving to be reliable indicators for us as we work one-on-one with coaching staffs in their recruiting approaches.

So, if it’s working for us, we’re pretty confident that it will work for you, too.  If, that is, you can formulate answers for those questions we know pop into your prospects’ minds as they consider whether or not to drink your very expensive $7.50 bottle of water.

Want personalized help in creating a proven marketing plan to increase the number of recruits who will want to drink your bottled water?  Let us help. CLICK HERE to see us explain the client option that coaches around the country are using for better recruiting results.

How to Coach Your Recruit This SpringMonday, March 11th, 2013

by Ellen Sawin, NCSA Athletic Recruiting

One of the most important aspects of recruiting is building a relationship with your recruits. The spring presents you with the opportunity to truly connect with your non-senior recruits, and it’s a chance to coach these athletes and their parents about “what’s next.” Coaching the recruits in this way shows that you care about their future and that you’re invested in them. It also gives you the chance to show your recruits and their families why they’ll want you as their coach in the future.

This bit of advice comes from Randy Taylor, a former football recruiting coordinator at UNLV and UCLA. Taylor was named the nation’s top recruiting coordinator by ESPN.com during his college football coaching and recruiting days. In his current position as Director of Recruiting at NCSA Athletic Recruiting, Taylor now shares his high level of experience with the coaches in the NCSA network.

How exactly can you “coach” your recruits?

Read the rest of Randy’s advice on this topic and get more help from him and other experts in recruiting by becoming a part of the network:

“So, what’s next for most non-senior recruits is a spring evaluation of their athletic ability, but for all prospects “what’s next” is an evaluation of their academic status before the summer begins. As their possible future coach it’s vital that you use this spring to coach them about where they stand academically and what they can do this summer to improve as a recruit.

Even if an athlete is a good student, a check up on their core classes and their progress towards initial eligibility is a great topic of conversation for calls and correspondence in the spring. If a recruit is border-line in the classroom, this is a perfect time to help them put together a plan to improve their academic standing – which could mean summer school to improve their core GPA, or other options you help them come up with.

If you can call your recruits, prepare a script and have their transcript in front of you (if you don’t have a transcript then have some notes of the prospect’s academic status that you’d made from earlier conversations, or do some research with their high school coach, counselor or parent to learn about their academic standing). When you’re coaching them over the phone, a great tool to use is a core course calculator or some type of a worksheet that you can send to them later. Fill this out while you’re talking to your recruits on the phone and then send it to them afterwards. This will not only help you track their academic standing, but it will help them as well.

If you can’t call your recruits, in a letter or email, you can send them a core course worksheet to help them grasp their academic standing. This method also gets your school’s logo in the recruit’s hands, reminding them of your interest in their success, not only as an athlete, but as a student. Make it so they can put it on their refrigerator to get their family involved, or on the wall in their room so that they’ll see your logo every day.

Whatever kind of evaluation you’re making during the spring it’s all about coaching the athlete about what’s next in their career as a prospect. Get the athlete and their family to take your coaching now so that they’ll want you as their coach in the future.”

Like Randy’s advice?  Want more help with recruiting this next class of student-athletes?  Join the NCSA Athletic Recruiting Network for free and get the help and recruits that you’re looking for heading into this next recruiting class.


7 Critical Things Your Prospect Presentation Absolutely NeedsTuesday, March 5th, 2013

“Presentation” might be the wrong word, actually.

As a college recruiter, you don’t give recruiting “presentations” in the same way that a business sales professional might give a sales presentation to a new prospective client.  And if you are doing it that way, prepare to have a long, painful life as a struggling college recruiter.

There are fundamental differences in what you want to do as a college coach trying to connect with a teenage with their prospect, especially when it comes to the reasons they are making their decision on what coach – and what program – is the best fit for them.

But that being said, “presentation” is the best word that I could come up with, because it really wraps in all the elements of the process that you use to recruit a student-athlete.  We’re not just talking about the opportunities you have to go into a prospect’s home and talk to them about competing for you and your program, or hosting them on campus as a part of an unofficial or official visit

“Presentations” can include a lot more:

  • The letters and emails that you write…that’s part of your presentation.
  • The phone calls that you make…that’s part of your presentation.
  • What is said about your school or you online…that’s part of your presentation.
  • When a prospect comes to visit your campus…that’s a part of your presentation.

You can’t overlook one area of your overall presentation and expect success.  Especially when it comes to the top athletes you really, really want for your program.

So in looking at programs we work with, and see what they do right on a consistent basis, here’s my list of the 7 things YOU need in your recruiting presentation if you’re looking for an added degree of success with your next recruiting class:

  1. Develop a belief in your school and your program. It pains me when I hear a coach tell me privately that he or she doesn’t think their school can compete with others in their conference.  What you absolutely need as a part of your overall recruiting presentation is a heart-felt belief that your school, your program – and you as a coach – are the best option for your recruit.  Assume that you are going to sign the athlete when you first start talking to them.  Today’s prospects want to compete for coaches who are confident (not cocky, confident).  If you don’t display passion about you and your program, don’t expect them to be passionate about the idea of coming to compete for you.
  2. Focus on helping them reach their objectives. Not sell your school.  Not brag about your program.  Not show off your new building.  Help connect the dots and show them how you (and your school, and your program, and maybe even the new building) will help them reach their athletic and academic objectives.  An easy way to make sure you’re doing this is by taking a look at each facet of your recruiting process and explain how whatever you do helps your recruit reach their objective.  “But Dan, what if I don’t know what their objective in college is?”  Ask.
  3. Tell them you have some ideas on how to help them. Do you know how original you’d be if you would just come to them with tangible ideas for them instead of bullet-pointed athletic department brochures?  Kids will always stay engaged if you give yourself away and get them to connect with you through ideas about them.  Not you, them.
  4. Try to ask one amazing question at the beginning of each new type of contact.One for your first letter, your first email, your first phone call, and when you first meet.  I’m talking about a question that makes them stop and really think about the answer before they give it to you.  Whenever you ask a question they haven’t been presented with before, that’s a sign of a great presentation.
  5. Don’t “need” the recruit. Prospects and their parents have become increasingly adept at sniffing out desparation, and it’s not something that they view favorably.  If you find yourself “pressing” for prospects – especially at the end of your recruiting cycle – then you need more prospects.  We have a coach we’ve worked with for several years who is heading into these upcoming months with nine prospects that are “A” rated recruits.  They only need to sign two this year.  Two years ago, their list was 1/3 the size it is now.  Do like they did and assess your needs and make adjustments in the numbers so that you aren’t begging at the end.
  6. Ask for the sale. If you’ve taken part in one of our famous On-Campus Workshops at your school, you know this is a familiar mantra we preach to college recruiters.  You’re recruiting them for a reason: You want them to play for you.  So, once you know in your heart that they’d be perfect for you – and you’re ready to hear a “yes” from them and follow-up with all the commitments that come along with possibly hearing that answer – ask them to commit.  Even if they say “no, not yet,” they’ll remember you as a coach that is passionate about them and that wants them for their team.  You might even be surprised when you get that immediate “yes!” from a prospect you really want….if you consistently ask.
  7. Be 100% focused 100% of the time. Are you smiling and confident?  Your prospect is watching. Are you and your staff wearing school polo shirts?  Your prospect is watching. Are you prepared for their visit and engaged with them individually, or are you thinking about what went wrong at practice yesterday?  Your prospect is watching. They are judging you as much as they are judging your school and your program.  Every part of your interaction with them matters, Coach.  Pay attention to the details and stay focused.

Now that you have my list, here’s a quick mental homework assignment I’d love for you to invest the next five minutes in doing: What three or four things can you do right away to improve your overall recruiting presentation?  Write down those changes on a card or piece of paper, and put it up on your wall in your office.  Don’t take it down until you’ve followed your own advice and made those changes to your presentation.

Those seven guiding principles can help you form the basis for a really effective recruiting presentaiton, which will help you make a big impact on this next recruiting class you’re starting to contact.

Do you have questions for Dan?  Email him directly at dan@dantudor.com.

Love Your Coaching Life So Much They Want to Punch You in the FaceTuesday, March 5th, 2013

by Dr. Mike Davenport

Locker room floors are littered with the crushed dreams of coaches. It is rare today to find a coach who’s really in love with coaching.


Yes, yes, I know — there are coaches who SAY they love coaching — but in reality it’s just a small part they love.
Y’know, like the winning, or teaching, or fine-tuning a technique. Those are chunks of coaching.


But it’s rare to find a person who loves it ALL.


Yet, there are THOSE coaches.


They are easy to recognize. They’re smiling, enjoying themselves, and are happy regardless how things are playing out on the competitive field. Okay, they might be focused, showing a frown, or using an emphatic manner to get a point across, but inside they’re loving it — EVERY moment.


And other coaches just want to smash them right in the face.




Jealousy perhaps. The “in-love” coach has found something those other coaches just can’t get their hands on. And they want it.
So how do YOU find that love, if you don’t already have it?


How to really love your coaching


Far be it for me to go into deep philosophical discussion about love. I can’t and you’d be gone in a second, but I will tell you this, if you are going to love coaching in it’s entirity, you have to WORK at it.


It’s worth it and can take your coaching to a new level — but it is not easy to do.


With that in mind let’s focus on three areas that are known love-killers for coaches.


Love your practice


Practice is where you spend the most amount of time. In my sport, rowing, we spend approximately 100 hours in practice for every race, with a race lasting around seven minutes. That puts the ratio around 100 minutes of practice to 1 minute of competition time.I learned long ago if I didn’t love practice coaching wasn’t going to be the right place for me.


So how did I find ways to love my practices?


First, there has to be control so I feel that I can teach — teaching is the part I love most about coaching.


Second, I try to surround myself with athletes and coaches who truly want to be there — who are motivated.


Third, I let the little stuff stay small, and focus on the big stuff.


Love your failures


So often in coaching what we think WILL happen, or what we believe SHOULD happen, doesn’t. The wheels come off the bus. (Hint: In coaching, you are going to see a lot of buses without wheels.)


Loving a wheelless bus isn’t easy, but it’s critical to loving your coaching.


How do you do that? Try:


1) find the good in the failure
2) a failure now doesn’t mean never
3) learn from the failure so you don’t have to go through it again


Find love by celebrating small victories


Big victories are great. Yup, and so is winning the lotto.


But neither of those happen as often as the small victories.Small victories get ignored or taken for granted.


Too bad, since small victories just might be the only victories a coach has in a season.


What would be a small victory? A “C” student getting a “B+” on exam.  An athlete grasping a technical aspect that has eluded her. A great demonstration of sportsmanship by your competition.


Celebrating those will help you find the love in your coaching.


What It All Means


If you are going to coach only for year, forget everything I’ve said.


Thinking of staying in coaching longer? Then find the love, and the more you find the longer your coaching tenure will be and the more you will enjoy it.


The author Mike Davenport has been coaching 33 years and has learned to love all aspects of coaching (yes, even the ups, the downs, and the losses.) He writes about professional sustainability for coaches over at  www.coachingsportstoday.com and will be a featured instructor at the upcoming National Collegiate Recruiting Conference.
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