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Featured Series: The ‘Miracle’ Behind Herb Brooks’s Miracle On IceMonday, August 25th, 2014

by Charlie Adams, StokeTheFireWithin.com

The 1980 U.S. Olympic hockey team and their upset of the mighty Soviets on their way to Gold was named the greatest sports moment of the century. I will be writing regularly here on how coach Herb Brooks put together that team, his recruiting as a college coach, and lessons we can learn from him and the miracle on ice.

When Herb Brooks took over as head coach of the University of Minnesota hockey program in 1972, they were last place in their conference. They had gone 8-24 the year before he came aboard. He coached them to a 15-16-3 record in his first year and, get this, guided them to 3 NCAA D1 national championships in the next 7 years!

Although many college hockey powers got their players from Canada back in the 1970’s, Herb made the decision to recruit only Minnesota players. While they may not have had the skill, he recruited for toughness and loyalty. He also knew kids from Minnesota would care more about representing their state University.

In Ross Bernstein’s book, America’s Coach, Don Micheletti shares the story of when Herb was recruiting him. Herb first offered him a half scholarship. Don told Herb that Colorado College had offered him a full, but that playing for Minnesota meant so much he would take the half. Herb smiled and said he had a full scholarship for him the whole time but he wanted to see how badly Don wanted to be a Gopher. 

Herb was big on home visits. He watched carefully to see how players acted around their parents. Values. He wanted kids with values. He was big on kids that had been captains in high school. He was big on muscle as he liked his teams to have an intimidating feel to them.

Herb knew it would take a couple of recruiting classes to take the program to new levels, but from day one he told his current players they could learn to get tougher immediately.

In future articles here, I will share how he recruited and put together the 1980 Miracle on Ice team. For now, I will end with this story of one of the kids he recruited at Minnesota. The team had a stretch where Herb told the players there would be no going out and certainly no beer. A player named Jim Boo had a Dad who came to town. They decided to go out to a pub near the hotel for some brews. The waitress came over with a beer and said it was for Jim and paid for by a customer. Jim thought it had to be a pretty lady, as he was a good looking hockey player. Well, he looked across to the bar and there was Herb Brooks staring at him. Herb had a look that would go through you forever.

Jim gulped. Herb walked over and said he would see him at the rink at 6 am the next morning. For two hours, Herb skated Jim to the brink of annihilation. There was throw up all over the place. Finally, Herb skated over to the slumping player and said, “How’s that beer tasting now?”

Motivational Speaker Charlie Adams delivers his More Than a Miracle program to college coaches and athletes. He explains how the 1980 Miracle on Ice was not so much a miracle as it was work ethic, remarkable vision and leadership, commitment to change, commitment to team, and perseverance.
Charlie can be reached at StokeTheFireWithin.com and at charlie@stokethefirewithin.com

How To Handle The Coaching PaparazziMonday, August 25th, 2014

by Mike Davenport, CoachingSportsToday.com

For my first six years of coaching, I was an assistant. During that time I could hide behind the apron of the head coach.

The exact micro-second I took over my own program things changed. I could no longer hide. Everything I did was magnified. Everything.

My strengths, my faults, become wickedly visible. I was on a stage with nothing between me and the audience.

The same is even more true today for head coaches. The magnification is intense. Proof — within .38 seconds I found thousands of results when I searched “dumb head-coach video.” (I hope you weren’t in any … heck, I hope I wasn’t.) Being a head coach means the paparazzi is watching.

The magnification is like having your own Paparazzi. It may be nothing more than one lone kid with a smartphone, but today that might as well be a complete news crew with a satellite feed to CNN. It is intense, it’s invasive and it’s real.

Here are some of the things that get magnified when you lead a program:

  • Your words
  • Your actions
  • Your thoughts
  • Your errors
  • Your moments of grace
  • Your attire
  • Your diet
  • Your job performance
  • Your family
  • Your relationship with athletes
  • Your choice of vehicle
  • Your … fill in the ______

New head coaches, you have to expect this. The magnification is 24/7/365. It comes with the territory. Breathe deep and get ready for it.

A few more thoughts about handling this magnification thing:

Thought ONE: “Should I change?”

Should you act, talk, dress different because of your Paparazzi? Honestly, yes. If the way you act, talk, dress does not meet expectations. And this means you need to figure out those expectations. I’ve written about that in detail here.

An example … I coach rowing. My competitions are outdoors, subjected to the weather. In rain/mud, or heat/dust, or somewhere in-between. It is not expected that I dress like our men’s basketball does at his games — he in suit and tie. And it is not expected that he dresses for contests like I do — me in whatever-it-takes-to-survive-the-elements. If it was expected then I should change. Kapeesh?

Thought TWO: “Is it getting worse?”

We are to the point of having to view ourselves as CONTINUALLY on stage. That won’t change. But what seems to be changing is the intensity of the magnification. With video intertwined in social media, and the proliferation of camera phones, your exposure on a world-wide stage is only seconds away. I know it’s not just happening in coaching, it’s everywhere, but the intensity in coaching is getting crazy.

The increasing magnification is catching many seasoned head coaches off-guard. As social media becomes more pervasive and invasive, and the expectations of parents, athletes and administration grow, so does the magnification.

Yes, it IS getting worse.

Thought THREE: “Is magnification a BAD thing?”

That depends.

In some ways, we have brought this upon ourselves. By not policing our own profession, by keeping quiet when bad coaches do horrific things, we’ve opened the floodgate to inspection from every angle. So I think there is a good part of this magnification, because when we think people are watching we are usually on our best behavior.

Of course there are bad parts, such as when magnification can make mountains out of molehills. More and more our law enforcement find themselves being magnified, especially in the wake of tragedies like Ferguson. Is this good or bad? Time will tell.

Thought FOUR: “Is there any protection?”

Forget invasion of privacy, you are a coach/celebrity, no protection there. The Paparazzi has a right to you. And “Hey, I just coach pee wee badminton, no cares about me,” is ludicrous. Don’t fool yourself, if you are a coach, especially a head coach, the magnification is on.

A few things you can do that might help mitigate the magnification:

  • have a good track record
  • build a great relationship with your boss/es
  • be proactive – a “code of conduct?”
  • don’t give the jackals anything to eat ; )

The smartest coaches around are the ones who get ready to be magnified, to be put on stage. Before we know it, we WILL be on stage. Come on over to Google+ to discuss this more, or blast me on Twitter.


The Video Solution for Coaching Beyond Your PracticeMonday, August 18th, 2014

As more and more college coaches begin to use the inexpensive, easy-to-use Dartfish Express app for college coaches, there’s another free teaching tool that more and more programs are using to coach their athletes even after practice is over.

It’s called Dartfish.tv, and it’s revolutionizing how players at large and small colleges alike are getting visual feedback from their coaches 24/7.

After recording video on the Dartfish Express app for smart phones, college coaches are posting that video for each athlete – with coaching notes and instruction – on their free Dartfish.tv account, which can be accessed by their team after practice is done.

One Division I program that is doing just that is the track and field program at Texas Christian University.  They’ve been seeing the benefits to the Dartfish Express and Dartfish.tv combination for several seasons now.

“There’s absolutely no comparison between showing one of your athletes what they need to understand, versus just talking to them”, says John Kenneson, Associate Head Coach of the TCU track and field team.  “When they see themselves on video they understand why you’re telling them what you’re telling them.  They have to know what the standard is, and Dartfish.tv is the best platform we’ve found for doing it.”

The thing that sold TCU on the winning combination?  How easy it all is to use.

“I’m not a super technical person, but once it’s on your phone or your iPad, it’s really easy to use”, says Kenneson.  “In the old days, it was really hard to film something, save it, download it and then share it.  But now we just get the video on Dartfish Express, and in a few seconds we upload it straight to Dartfish.tv.  It’s simple.”

Getting started with this simple coaching solution is easy:  First, download the app.  Then, start your free Dartfish.tv account.  It’s as easy as that…most programs are up and running in just a few minutes.

Want to make a quick, effective upgrade to the way you coach your athletes this year, no matter what your division level is or what your budget looks like?  Use these two high tech coaching tools from Dartfish!

For help getting started, complete the contact form here.  Or, start your FREE Dartfish.tv account for your team here.

Dads Cry TooMonday, August 18th, 2014

by Mike Davenport, CoachingSportsToday.com

I cried for 20 minutes today.

I’m an alpha-type guy. I’m used to compartmentalizing and burying my emotions. But not today. Today was different. It was check-in-day.

I dropped my oldest off at college — to start his freshman year.

I’m not supposed to cry, my wife is. Sure, I get that.

And there’s a lot of misery in the World right now, so depositing my kid at a good college to get a good education is supposed to be a happy event. Fine and dandy.

But here’s the thing, I don’t care. I’ll miss him. Really miss him.

Here’s the bigger thing — the important thing — the thing YOU should know as a college coach — I’m NOT the only Dad who cries. There are others — lots.

We go to the car while mom gets the dorm-room ready. We cry in the parking lot.

“It’s allergy season,” I heard one guy say today. Another, wiping his eyes, broadcasted, “Got stupid sunscreen in my eyes, again.”

Me? I told one guy my eyes were bloodshot from drinking. I haven’t had a drink in 30 years.

So, why should you care?

Because the person who recruited weeping-Dad’s child might be missing an opportunity to shine.

What if a coach wandered around the parking lot with a box of tissues? Dispensing as needed. Patting a few dads on the back. I can think of worse duties.

And if check-in-day has come and gone? Give the recruit 10 postcards, and make sure he mails one each day to his Dad. Jeez, I haven’t gotten a postcard in years, and never one from him. That’d be cool.

Y’know, if the phone rang right now, and one of my son’s new coaches called saying, “Hey Dad, no worries, we’ll take good care of him,” that would be nice.

Better yet, if the coach called and said, “Hey Dad, I know you’re tight with your son. Thanks for trusting me, I will make sure he keeps you updated, emailing/texting/whatever-social-you-like-connecting each day”, that would rock my world.

Or set up a Dad’s section on your team’s website. Dads will like that, even if it is something silly.

If any of those happened I would be blasting all my friends, “Those coaches got it together, your son should go there”.

Some people say college is a time for parents to let go, cut those strings.  Wander around the parking lot on check-in-day and see how well that message goes with the Dads.

And bring tissues, they will get used.

(Oh yeah … This also applies to high school, middle school, and pee wee sports. Trust me, I’ve been there too.  It does.)

The Moment Vs. The MovementMonday, August 18th, 2014

by Tyler Brandt, National Recruiting Coordinator

We are tuned in to looking for teachable “moments” as educators and coaches, the problem is they are just that – fleeting moments. The thing is,  moments are  are a lot like cats – they operate on their own schedule and are never really where you need them when you need them.

This is the same challenge coaches have when it comes to recruiting, we recruit in the moment. So many coaches are trying to CREATE the “Flutie Effect” in their programs every day, losing sight of the fact that even if they can do it – it’s still just a moment in time and that moment will be gone. Once that moment is gone another moment has to be created to sustain success and we all know moments are on their own schedule! Think about technology and how fast phones become obsolete! Once your phone is old you need a new one and you either are an iPhone person or an Anti-iPhone person, nobody is an LG person or a Samsung person. Similar to Harley Davidson, as a Harley owner I notice nobody has tattoos of Honda or Suzuki on their arms and back! You buy a Kawasaki in the moment but you join the HOG Movement!!

Here is my challenge to you …..

Get rid of the Moment Mindset and make the Change to the Mindset of The MOVEMENT!

Years ago I spoke about the recruiting system we used when I was the head coach at my alma mater! As it would happen I had no idea I was creating a movement, I just thought I was doing what all college coaches did. As it turns out we changed the culture of the program and had extreme amounts of success athletically and academically.

With the help of some great assistant coaches, Rob Thomas, Dan Tudor (yes I called him an assistant coach because he was an integral part of the recruiting staff – OUR Director of Recruiting Communications) and myself engaged in a recruiting movement! Why do I call it a “movement”? Because it had all of the elements of a movement and it was sustainable!

The first thing my assistant coach had to do was eliminate my Functional Fixedness. Functional Fixedness is a cognitive bias keeping people from accepting creative options as possible solutions for challenges they face. In layman’s terms, it is a way of thinking that keeps you doing what you have always done because you can’t wrap your heads around doing it any other way – even if a new system or process would produce more success. He educated me on how having a Director of Recruiting Communications would create a more consistent, meaningful and engaging messages that would cause the recruits we wanted to read, react and respond to us. He sealed the deal when he told me I could stop writing the recruiting collateral and free up a ton of time!

So we implemented a recruiting program focusing on the athlete:

1)    Becoming Sovereign

2)    Becoming An Expert

3)    Becoming Significant

Once we implemented this recruiting plan, that actually got our recruits to read & understand our S.E.S. message, we saw National Level success in our recruiting classes and in competition. We also had higher graduation and retention rates, and less behavioral challenges on campus. The really cool thing was by the time our athletes got to campus they were already INVOLVED in the “Movement” because that is why they chose our college and our program!

I challenge you to let us help you destroy your Functional Fixedness and shift your recruiting plan into a Sustainable Movement!! Email me at tyler@dantudor.com and let’s talk about transforming your next recruiting class!

The App That Changes the Way You Coach Your AthletesMonday, August 11th, 2014

Most college coaches want to coach their athletes quickly, effectively and accurately.

Yet, communicating with them in a way that meets those three important goals is challenging, to say the least.

Well for a few college coaches – especially those who look to technology for newer coaching tools – they’ve uncovered an easy-to-use app that is making coaching athletes quick, effective and accurate.

And the best part?  It costs about the same as a cup of your favorite overpriced morning coffee.

It’s the cool new Dartfish Express app for smartphones and tablets, and it’s being used to provide instant coaching feedback to college athletes through video.  And after the instant feedback on the field, court, track or pool, coaches can upload that video to their own Dartfish.tv site for their individual team members to view and learn from after hours.

All of the app’s features was one of the reason Apple chose to highlight it as part of their “Life on iPad” series, and it’s ease of use is the reason that so many college coaches are using Dartfish Express to begin the year.

“I really like to use it at practice, right at the venue, especially when we’re focusing on technique because you’re able to give immediate visual feedback,” says John Kenneson, Associate Head Coach for Track and Field at Texas Christian University, who has become a fan of the Dartfish technology.  “But the beauty of Dartfish Express is being able to have our athletes be able to view it later back at their house or dorm room on our Dartfish.tv site.”

“Any kind of training and coaching that we’re trying to give them that can be made visual is really important to me.”

The app is so simple to use that most coaches are finding themselves able to use it just a few minutes after downloading it.

Want to give it a try today?  Download it here, or take a few minutes to see what it can do – and why coaches around the country are changing the way they communicate with their college athletes.

Balancing Parents and Prospects During Their Visit to CampusMonday, August 11th, 2014

One of the trickiest balancing acts college coaches are asked to perform on a regular basis is effectively meeting the needs of prospects on their visit to campus, along with their parents.

Unfortunately, it’s an act that many coaches never learn how to master.

For years, when we’ve heard coaches describe their campus visit strategies to us during our On-Campus Workshops and consultations, there has been one primary question that gets asked by college recruiters: What’s the right mix of time and attention that a coaching staff should devote to both prospects and their parents?

While there’s no universal “perfect mix” we could recommend – because, of course, every prospect and parent is unique – there are two simple but important rules that any coach can use to build better campus visit experiences for their best prospects that they really, really want to impress:

  1. Separate the prospect and their parents.  Not too soon into the campus visit, find a way to separate the prospect from their parents.  The reason is simple: Each party will usually have a much more memorable visit, and coaches will get more information from both the recruit and the parents.  Useable, actionable information that will help increase a coach’s chances of winning that recruit they really, really want.
  2. Send parents on the traditional admissions tour, and send the recruit off with some of your team.  This is where I could unload mountains of data from all of our focus group surveys we’ve done with clients over the years, helping them design winning recruiting visits for their prospects.  That data, largely comprised of feedback from current college athletes reflecting back on what they liked and didn’t like about their visits to college campuses, tells us something that I’ll boil down to this main point:  When you separate the recruits and the parents while they are visiting your campus, they are both free to speak their mind.  Parents can ask questions that they might not normally ask around their son or daughter.  Recruits can relax and be themselves around their peers, instead of awkwardly deferring to those over-eager parents who gladly jump in to answer the question that you just tried to direct to their son or daughter.  The long admissions tour?  The parents will be much more receptive than their kids – who, by the way, would love the chance to just hang out and play xBox with your players as a way to determine whether your campus feels best to them.

The biggest point of feedback we get from recruits and parents is that they feel much more apt to ask questions that they wouldn’t otherwise be comfortable asking a coach, admissions counselor, or financial aid officer. That’s important: One of the main goals any coach should have when they bring an athlete onto campus is to make sure they leave after the visit feeling like you were the school, coach and program that wanted them the most. THAT’S what they’re looking for in a visit, and that’s what they’ll remember once they’re home.

Yes, there are many potential twists and turns any smart college coach could implement into those two basic rules.  The possibilities are almost endless, depending upon the needs and personality of the recruit coming to their campus.

However, these two rules are big keys to a good foundation from which to build a solid recruiting visit.

Want more specific strategies for great campus recruiting visits?  We’ve written a special guide for college coaches who want to super-charge their campus recruiting visits, and it should be a part of your coaching library.  Click here to order any of our recruiting resources, Coach.

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