It all started to go right when San Diego State women’s golf coach Leslie Spalding had to leave campus and go out on the road to recruit.
At the last minute, she assigned the task of doing a video for a little trick shot contest to the young women on her team. She gave them no instruction. The last-minute project wasn’t planned out and assigned by Coach Spalding, and there were no adults nearby supervising and directing them. It was just the women on the team, an iPhone, an iMovie editing app, and took a little over an hour to make. They made up the shots as they went along. (The segment of the team putting 7 balls into the hole at one time? It took 25 tries!)
It’s received so much attention that the video has now been turned into a fundraising tool for the team, as well (come on, Coach…give a little something to reward these young ladies for their creativity!)
It’s matching the success that the Harvard University baseball team and SMU Women’s Rowing team had with their creative videos a few years ago.
And none of it happened until the coach let her team take over the project.
And therein lies an important lesson for college coaches:
If you let your team take more of a role in your recruiting efforts, good things will happen.
This generation of recruits tell us on a consistent basis that they look to your team to gauge whether or not they would want to consider your program and, ultimately, commit to your program. To be sure, you, your college’s reputation, and how you show your facilities all have a part to play in painting a picture for your recruits. But your team holds a big key to connecting with your prospect and making him or her feel like your program feels right to them.
Here are a few ideas to get you going:
Give your team the reigns. Show them the videos and other ideas that other teams have done, and ask them to come up with ideas. Let them have fun with it!
Focus on video. It’s the easiest thing that gets attention, and can be easily forwarded to experience by your recruits. Let your team come up with video ideas and execute it. NOT YOU, COACH!
Consistency is key. Whether it’s once a week, or once a month, make sure you’re letting your team come up with something on a regular basis.
Let your Freshmen and Sophomores lead the way. It’s not a universal “rule”, but your younger players are usually going to be the ones that approach this kind of project with more enthusiasm and more creativity. Give them a role in your program by letting them lead this effort.
Your team can write a letter or email to your entire prospect list. Have them tell your recruits why they came to compete for you. Their voice is more believable, and more interesting, than your voice, Coach.
Give your kids a bigger role. We’ve talked a lot about involving your team on the campus visit – including in our new book. What three aspects of the visits can you turn over to them that would add more energy and creativity to the visit?
The simple message is this: Take it to your team, and challenge them to beat what some of these other programs have done. Give them control. Trust their creativity.
When your team is given just a little bit of power to take control in the process, good things happen.
Spring break weeks are fast approaching. A large majority of your younger prospects, primarily juniors, are currently putting together a road map of college campuses to visit. Have you and your admissions staff made a compelling case highlighting the benefits that prospective students and their parents can gain by visiting your campus?
“Wait a minute Jeremy, I’ve written personal letters, sent emails, and had productive phone calls with them. Why wouldn’t they want to come and visit?”
Even though a campus visit would seem to be the next logical step in the process for those prospects, I’m here to tell you that it’s not a mere formality. Being consistent with your messaging, building the relationship over time, and inviting them to visit won’t always be enough to persuade prospects and their families to take time out of their busy schedules and invest a day at your institution. Especially given that today’s prospect is applying to more colleges than ever before. You have to give them a reason to come to campus.
When we conduct one of our many admissions workshops throughout the year, part of our research includes conducting detailed focus groups and surveys with current college students. We continue to find that a large majority of your prospects need to understand why you want them to become a member of your student body. Essentially, they want to be able to justify why they should spend their time and money on your campus instead of somebody else’s.
So, what’s your answer then to my question in the subject line of this week’s newsletter? Other than you being interested and sending out reminder notices for your information sessions, what have you really given them? Do they view coming to your campus as a chore, or could it actually be fun?
If you’re on board with me, there are a couple of questions you might need to ask yourself, and one vital point I want you to remember as you make efforts to get your next group of recruits to visit campus.
Have you laid the foundation for the visit? As I touched on earlier, consistent messaging and cultivating the recruiting relationship over time are extremely helpful. I don’t recommend asking them to visit as part of your first conversation. That initial chat will be unnerving for most prospects, and the last thing you want to do is overwhelm them and start things off on the wrong foot.
Have you created anticipation? If you’re a client of ours, you know how important it is to have the flow of the recruiting process move as quickly and efficiently as possible toward securing a campus visit. Your prospect will anticipate the campus visit if you’ve given them glimpses of what campus is like, why he or she would want to see the dorms, and what the surrounding community is like. Those are some of the key elements our research has uncovered as to what triggers that anticipation in the minds of your recruits when it comes to committing to a campus visit.
You need to have a “because.” A big motivating factor in many prospect’s decision to visit campus, was the idea that there was something important to talk about during their visit. Focus on the idea of selling a personalized tour where they’ll have the opportunity to sit down face to face with the dean of the business school if the recruit is strongly considering that area of study…or the opportunity to meet some members of your school’s drama club if that’s something they’ve indicated an interest in. Bottom line – What your recruits need is what we all need to prompt action from time to time: A “because”. Do you have one?
In a nutshell, recruits will rarely visit a campus without a good reason that is solidified in their mind – either one that they came up with on their own, or a picture that you have painted for them over a period of time.
Sometimes, not often, but sometimes, I wish I coached an indoor sport.
Especially when our river looks like this:
Usually we are ice-free by this time of year, practicing happily on the water. But not this year. Ohh no… This year we’ve been thrown a knuckleball.
A knuckleball is a pitch which has the tendency to move unexpectantly and erratically, veering from its original path. It looks like one thing, yet becomes another.
Here’s the thing … coaches are thrown knuckleballs all the time:
A starting player has to go home for a family emergency, right before the big game
Wednesday’s contest is changed to Friday, due to weather, and that conflicts with your important personal obligation
You miss practice, because you are sick (yes, I know, you’d have to be “wicked sick” but …)
Your budget gets reduced 10%, and you have no idea how to make up the shortage
The list is almost endless. You’re nodding your head in agreement, aren’t you?
A knuckleball causes the batter to react – to make a change from his normal swing. We coaches have to do the same thing all the time. Adapt – and quickly. Handling knuckleballs are an occupational requirement.
Following, if you are interested, are eight tips that work well for me when I get knuckleballed.
1. Are you sure it’s a knuckleball? Sometimes a knuckleball isn’t. It’s entirely something else. Before you take radical action to fix an issue, is it really an issue? More than once, especially in my younger years of coaching, I was quick to react to something out-of-the-ordinary, when I should have just waited for a short time. A prime example is the time a mom called and left a cryptic message that “my daughter just left school.” I quickly deduced that she, one of our best athletes, had withdrawn for the semester. Panic.
I called the Dean and the Registrar demanding to pin down how and when this happened. Long story short, she had “left school” for the day to drive home, and mom just wanted us to know. Yes, that was a relief, but in the meantime several folks had been stirred into a frenzy, including myself.
2. Respond, not react. Being too quick to react to a knuckleball can be harmful, like above. Yet being quick to find a solution can be a positive, if your mind is clear. I have found that five minutes (or even 30 seconds if things are moving fast) spent focusing on my breathing helps me keep calm and clear headed. To respond wisely, instead of react haphazardly. Friend Jay Forte writes about that here in You Could Change Things In 10 Seconds, and I’ve written about the power of breathing here, and here.
3. Be open to quick changes. Dedicating time and energy to plan an event doesn’t insure it WILL happen. But it does mean we might be less open to alternate ideas when a curveball is thrown. Personally, being quickly flexible is something I had to learn. I struggled with it in my first year of coaching. In my sport, a 5 mph change in the wind can alter a practice plan, or even cancel an event. The wind can change in the blink of an eye, so I learned to be open to quick changes almost as fast.
4. Into the batting cage. A little common sense here – waiting for a knuckleball in a game is a bad time to figure out how to hit one. Practice beforehand is critical. This Fall we took a shell with nine rowers out on our river and purposely flipped it. Why? Because it could happen at anytime and the coaches, rowers, and rescue squad knowing how to respond in case of a real emergency could be a life saver – literally.
5. Always have an Option B, and then an Option C. A backup plan at the ready is invaluable. And if Option B doesn’t work, you’ll be glad to have another idea at hand. Each day my coaches and I gather to plan out the day’s practice. We usually have three options. Several times each semester I’ve been glad to have Option C.
6. Steal ideas from other coaches. Once per month the coaches at our school get together for a Coaches Coffee (hat tip to Coach Steve for the name suggestion). We trade notes and solutions on current hot topics. It’s been great to learn how lax, soccer and other coaches handle knuckleballs in their sports. More than once their solutions have saved the day.
7. Write your Options. The act of writing has a way of clarifying thoughts, both internally and externally. Once, when faced with losing an athlete for disciplinary reasons, writing down the situation helped me get past the raw emotion of disappointment, and get to empathy. At the same time, having described the situation in writing, along with the solution, allowed me to quickly share the info with my supervisor and assistant coaches.
8. If it sounds too crazy, save it. A seemingly crazy solution for TODAY’s knuckleball might actually work for TOMORROW’S. You never know when things might just come in handy, that’s why it can be helpful to write stuff down. I put mine into Evernote, where they are searchable, quickly accessible, and shareable.
Actions You Could Take
So that’s a list of numerous actions you can take when on the receiving end of a knuckleball. Certainly there are others, especially because the knuckleball you’re thrown can be so erratic it may require extremely creative thinking. All the actions seem to breakdown into three categories:
Prevent a knuckleball being thrown
Practice how to hit one
Be ready for the next one
Personally, I focus on the last two, since the only sure way a coach can prevent receiving a knuckleball is not to be a coach.
I’ll add this question for future discussion, what if you are the one throwing the knuckler? How do you react if there is a plan in place and it has to change because of you? A topic worth discussing?
For coaches out there reading this today, Tuesday, this is the actual 35th anniversary date of the ending of the Miracle on Ice. On Febuary 24th, 1980 coach Herb Brook’s USA team rallied to beat Finland 4-2.
“The impossible dream comes true,” said ABC’s Al Michaels, two days after his famous “Do you believe in miracles?!” call.
The 19 surviving players returned to Lake Placid Saturday night. It was the first time the whole surviving team was back in Lake Placid since 1980. No doubt, one reason they made sure to return was the realization of mortality. Bob Suter became the first player to die back in September when he died of a heart attack at age 57. He was at his rink in Madison, WI where he helped so many kids.
Every coach dreams of assembling a team that reaches the pinnacle like the 1980 U.S. Olympic hockey team. I can’t emphasize enough how important the psychological part of it is. Shortly after Brooks died in a car crash in August of 2003, former Soviet star Slava Fetisov wrote a wonderful tribute to him that the New York Times read. Fetisov wrote, “he was one of the first to prove that a modern coach is first of all a wonderful pschologist.”
When Slava speaks, people listen. Wayne Gretzkey felt Slava was one of the two best defenders he ever faced, saying Slava could skate backwards and sideways faster than he could forward. Slava was so good an asteroid was named after him.
Brooks’ degree in psychology and his emphasis of that area enabled him to recruit players at the college and Olympic level that were incredible at coming through at opportune times. He also knew exactly how to push the different buttons.
Psychology and motivation are so important in building a team and championships. Here is Herb Brooks on it:
“Motivation is the energy that makes everything work. It is clearly the single most critical part of performance.”
Herb Brooks had different motivational talks for every game in Lake Placid. They ranged from confronting Rob McLanahan after the first period of the sluggish Sweden game to where they had a near fight, to his compassionate ‘you were born to be here’ talk before the Soviet game, when his boys were on edge. Then, trailing Finland 3-2 before the final period in the gold medal game, he merely walked in and said, “You lose this game, you take it to your $@*# grave”. He walked back out, and back in, and said, “To your !@$%! grave.” And left.
Team USA destroyed Finland in the final period of the gold medal game, rallying from 3-2 down to win 4-2. Scoring the winning goal was Rob McLanahan, who was so enraged at herb during that Sweden fiasco that he had to be separated. Today, McLanahan is on the board of directors of the Herb Brooks Foundation, has coached Herb’s grandkids, and will tell anyone no other coach could have done what Herb did back in 1980.
Being a wonderful psychologist and understanding nothing is more important than motivation. That comes from Slava Fetisov and Herb Brooks.
Today is the 35th anniversary of it all. If you would, please take a minute to Like the Herb Brooks Foundation on Facebook, as they do so much wonderful work to help young people.
Overcoming an objection from a prospective student can be a difficult challenge. For many admissions counselors it’s one of the most frustrating parts of the job.
Late last fall during a one-on-one consultation with a counselor, the topic of recruiting a new territory was broached. To be clear this new territory was not a bordering state, but rather a region in a different geographic area of the country.
Fast forward to this past week when I got a phone call from that same counselor. Her recruitment in the aforementioned new territory had produced more applications than expected. Great news I said! “Yes and no,” she responded. The recruitment of those out-of-state prospects had gone so smoothly that she failed to inquire about an issue that had now become a critical objection from a handful of those recruits and their parents – “distance from home.”
For many institutions, recruiting students who will have to board a plane or spend most of a day in a car to get to campus can be a tough sell. Simply put, it can end the recruiting conversation before it even begins.
In a perfect world every prospect would be honest from the start and tell you that they won’t consider attending a college that’s a long way from home. The reality is, most recruits will rarely offer-up their true feelings until late in the game, as this counselor learned.
This situation provides a valuable lesson for all counselors who recruit out-of-state, region, or even the country. Determining those feelings right away is something that all recruiters can and should attempt to accomplish by probing. By asking smart questions and being persistent, you will learn when to pursue and when to move on.
Here are two effective questions you can ask early in the process that we’ve seen work, when trying to decide if you should invest your time and your school’s resources in that long distance prospect.
As early as possible, ask the prospect why they’re choosing to look at out-of-area colleges. Answers like, “I want to see what’s out there,” or “my parents want me to consider your school because of how much mail you’ve sent me,” should be cause for concern. If the prospect cannot verbalize a specific reason, you’ll need to probe further and attempt to discover the true meaning behind those statements. Conversely, if your long distance prospect responds by saying, “Your nursing program offers the hands-on clinical experience I’m looking for,” or “I want to go somewhere with warm weather,” those both indicate a concrete reason behind their interest in learning more about your school.
Ask the parents why they would want to see their son/daughter go “away” to college. I want you to phrase it exactly like I worded it: “So, why do you want to see your son/daughter go away to college?” If the answer is something like, “I don’t really want him/her to go away…but it’s good to keep all the options open,” proceed with caution. Our research shows that when it comes time for a decision to be made, mom or dad (or both) is going to play the emotion card and push for them to remain close to home. I’m not telling you to throw in the towel if you hear that response, however, it does mean that you really need to have the parents define why they view your school as a smart consideration for their son or daughter. Asking this question will provide you with the information that tells you how to move forward.
Let me again reiterate that critical questions such as these should be asked sooner rather than later. Starting the conversation early on is an effective way to determine what course of action you should take with a long distance prospect that you hope to enroll.
Furthermore, I encourage you not to give up at the first sign of resistance, especially if you have an out-of-area recruit that you consider to be “high potential.” Keep the communication flow consistent, but always be listening and looking for those hidden clues. Prospects have been known to change their mind as the recruiting process moves forward. Their top local college may not come through with a strong enough financial aid package, or over time your story may be more compelling and create those all-important feelings.
Want to talk to the national experts about how to recruit specific prospects? Become a client of Tudor Collegiate Strategies. You’ll get access to a group of experts who can advise you on how to approach specific recruiting situations you’re facing, and a team of off-site staff members that can create recruiting messages that work and help shoulder the load of all aspects of your recruiting duties. Contact Jeremy today for all the details.
My first head coaching job came at the wise old age of 24. There was a senior on the team who was just 18 months younger than me. I inherited a squad who previously had a part-time head coach and thus was used to part-time commitments.
This team witnessed me as a first year head coach who was still very much finding her footing, her philosophy, and her way.
I wish I could go back and share these 5 things with the 24-year-old version of myself.
1. SEEK GRACE
…instead of being hyper-critical. I was incredibly hard on myself in that first year. I wanted everything to be perfect right out of the gate, and I didn’t allow myself an ounce of grace in the transition process. At one point, the lone senior mentioned in passing, “Lighten up on yourself, Coach, you’re doing just fine.”
That comment was the turning point for me! This job is hard – and it’s dynamic, and messy sometimes, and infuriating, and “oh my gosh I should have just taken an 8-5 desk job somewhere.” It’s also the most rewarding, fulfilling and downright amazing experience all at the same time.
Cut yourself some slack, coach, and remember Jimmy Dugan’s advice in
A League Of Their Own “It’s supposed to be hard. The hard is what makes it great.”
2. SEEK RESPECT
…not friendship. I made this critical mistake and worked the entire next season to fix it. Culture is like that – it is not easily created, and once established, is even harder to change. If you seek to earn respect, you will in turn, earn friendship once a student-athlete becomes an alumna. Seek friendship, however, and you’ll end up losing out on respect….and probably the friendship once their playing career is over anyway.
It’s easier to begin by being stern and loosening up as you go along, than to begin by being too easy and trying to get sterner as you go. Strike the right balance in the beginning, and you will, in turn, make it much easier on yourself in the long run.
3. SEEK OUT AND LEAN ON
…veteran coaches. Said differently – there is no shame in not having all of the answers. Rely on those coaches who have been in the game longer than you. Pick their brain! Ask situational questions and dig deep into their responses.
There is no need to reinvent the wheel, especially in the beginning. Read about the legendary coaches and emulate the parts of their philosophy that align with your own.
4. SEEK TO FIRST UNDERSTAND
…then worry about being understood. This one is so important I almost listed it twice. Put yourself in the metaphorical shoes of your student-athletes as often as possible. Consider the demands on their schedules, the interpersonal relationships that are always at play in their lives, and that for many, this is the first time away from the comfortable protection of their parents.
By seeking to understand and then modeling your coaching strategies accordingly, you will be much more easily understood. If you want your student-athletes to be “bought in” to what you’re selling – take the time to understand what makes them tick outside of your respective sport. Invest in them as people first – for there are no limits to what empowered student-athletes can accomplish.
5. SEEK BALANCE
…in the area of work-life. Coaching can become a vacuum that sucks you in to a nearly 24/7 time commitment. Certainly, there are times of the year when this is almost necessary. In those other times, however, make a concerted effort to find work-life balance. Prioritize family time, down time, and opportunities to focus on your own health and wellness.
It is perfectly fine to schedule this time just like you would a strength and conditioning session, or team meeting. Carving out time for you, and your family and friends, is imperative to prevent burn-out.
I suppose that’s the beauty in all of this, that you cannot possibly know the lessons until you live and work through them. Wouldn’t it be nice though, if hindsight would disguise itself as foresight.
As Vala Afshar says, “You win some. You learn some.”
When legendary former North Carolina basketball coach Dean Smith died recently, one of my first thoughts was a connection he had to coach Herb Brooks of the Miracle on Ice in how they built a particular team.
In 1976, Dean Smith was head coach of the U.S. Olympic men’s basketball team. He raised eyebrows when he went with four of his current Carolina players as well as having seven ACC players out of the roster of twelve.
The Carolina and ACC players were:
Phil Ford North Carolina
Mitch Kupchak North Carolina
Tommy LaGarde North Carolina
Walter Davis North Carolina
Kenny Carr North Carolina State
Steve Sheppard Maryland
Tate Armstrong Duke
They won gold, beating Yugoslavia 95-74 in the gold medal game.
In 1980, Herb Brooks was head coach of the soon-to-be famous U.S. Olympic men’s hockey team. He left his job as head coach at the University of Minnesota to take over.
Herb raised eyebrows too when he went nine of his Univ of Minnesota boys and two others from Minnesota-Duluth. Eleven of the twenty were from Minnesota.
Mike Ramsey Minnesota
Rob McLanahan Minnesota
Bill Baker Minnesota
Dave Christian Minnesota
Neal Broten Minnesota
Steve Christoff Minnesota
Steve Janaszak Minnesota
Buzz Schneider Minnesota
Eric Strobel Minnesota
John Harrington Minnesota-Duluth
Mark Pavelich Minnesota-Duluth
They won gold, beating the dynasty Soviet team 4-3 in the semi finals along the way. Sports Illustrated named what they did as the greatest U.S. sports moment of the 20th century.
I was living in Durham, North Carolina in 1976 when Dean Smith built that team and I remember the howls from around the basketball nation about how he was favoring his Tar Heels and the ACC.
When Herb Brooks put together the Olympic team, he caught heat for going with a whopping nine who were playing for him then or had at the University of Minnesota.
Both went with their heart, instincts, sport knowledge, and determination to build the best team possible.
What is interesting is that Dean Smith’s team had 7 of 12 from the ACC, but the two best players in the 1976 Games were Adrian Dantley of Notre Dame and Scott May of Indiana. Dean obviously built things to where those two were far and away the top two options on offense. Dantley averaged 19 points a game while May averaged 17.
With Herb, even though he had all those Minnesota guys, Mike Eruzione of Boston University was the captain and Jim Craig was the goalie. Those are the two most important positions/titles on a team. Herb also had a 1st team All American for him at Minnesota on that team in Steve Janaszak. He never played Janascak a second in the Games, going with Craig all the way. Also, his best offensive player was Mark Johnson of Wisconsin. One time on a plane Herb told Mark that the team goes about as far as he takes them. He scored two of the four goals in the historic 4-3 win over the Soviets.
It’s like Herb and Dean knew their North Carolina and Minnesota area guys may not rack up stats or dominate, but their core would be familiar to them as coaches and they knew what they could do.
What they did is somewhat like that college coach that leans heavily on a certain club system or certain high school or conference. That coach may take some heat, but in the end you have to go with your evaluations, heart, instinct and determination to build a team that is best fit to win a championship. You may not make everyone happy, and others may think you are showing favoritism, but as Dean Smith and Herb Brooks showed, they were doing what was best.
by Mandy Green, Head Women’s Soccer Coach at The University of South Dakota
We all know that recruiting is a 365 day-a-year-beast. You could easily spend 40+ hours a week just watching practices, making recruiting phone calls, sending texts, emailing, on-campus visits, watching video, having staff meetings, etc. On top of your recruiting responsibilities, you also have to manage, train, and develop your current team. Some of you also have to teach classes or have additional administrative responsibilities. It’s a lot.
The demand for our time as a coach is increasingly exceeding our capacity — draining us of the energy we need to bring our skill and talent fully to life. The rise of digital technology is perhaps the biggest influence, exposing us to an unprecedented flood of information and requests that we feel compelled to read and respond to at all hours of the day and night.
Just like our athletes, with overtraining and overworking we wear down, burnout, and become ineffective. The reality is that we will become flat liners mentally and emotionally when we relentlessly spend energy without sufficient recovery. Unless we incorporate more rest and recovery into our work regimen, we will slowly wear down and become ineffective as coaches and as recruiters.
Sadly, the need for recovery is often viewed as a sign of weakness rather than an integral aspect of growth and sustained performance in our society. As coaches, our entrenched, puritanical conditioning of being valued on how hard we work, our fear of being left behind or replaced, and our addiction to always being busy are actually not only destroying our mental and physical health but also destroying our creative productivity.
To avoid burning out and to prolong your life as a coach, you need to add more rest and recovery into your workday. To consistently produce high quality work and get the results you need daily, all throughout the week, and throughout the year, I highly suggest you find a way to implement taking time off into your productivity strategy.
Here are 3 things I did to incorporate “rejuvenation time” into my schedule.
Since I was struggling to take time off, I first had to get over my belief that: working = good and not working = slacker. I just made a conscious effort to think positively of this time that I was taking off and kept telling myself that this was “rejuvenation time”. I kept telling myself that this time away from coaching and recruiting was going to refresh my mind and body which in turn was going to make me a better coach and recruiter.
Office Renewal:Take mini-breaks
Small, frequent breaks are a great way to refresh and recharge. It’s been proven in many studies that workers who take short 10-15 minute breaks every 90 minutes report a 30 percent higher level of focus than those who take no breaks or just one during the day. They also report a nearly 50 percent greater capacity to think creatively and a 46 percent higher level of health and well-being. The more hours people work beyond 40 — and the more continuously they work — the worse they feel, and the less engaged they become.
Sitting at your computer for long periods will lead to sleepiness and sluggishness, so get up periodically, stretch, take deep breaths, and move around. I recommend setting a timer that goes off every 60-90 minutes. Every time the timer rings, stand up before you turn it off. And once you are standing, get moving. Get up to go to the bathroom, go refill your water bottle, take a quick lap around the building, plan to run an errand or 2 during this time, get up to stretch your leg and back, or walk around and talk to your coaching colleagues for a moments…just do something that refreshes you for just a few minutes. You will be amazed at how much more energy and focus you have just by taking a few short mini-breaks throughout the day.
By taking 5-10 minute short breaks every 60-90 minutes throughout the day, I have noticed that I am not getting as tired at the end of the day as I used to and I still have energy when I get home. I am working less hours but getting more done and it is much higher quality than I have ever done before.
At Home Renewal: Plan 2 hours of free time EVERY NIGHT!
When you get home from the office, schedule 2 hours where your phone is in another room, you put work away, and you take yourself off of the coaching and recruiting grid to recharge.
I suggest planning something fun that will engage your heart and mind so you are not bored and tempted to get sucked back into your working addiction. Plan fun things to do with your family or friends. Workout. Go for a walk outside. Read a book. Watch a movie. Go play golf. Or whatever it is that you deem your recovery time.
When I started scheduling 2 hours every night that I couldn’t work, I found myself working more urgently during the day to get things finished up. I also quickly found that by resting my mind and body daily, that when it was time to get back to work, I was more energized and focused so was able to produce higher quality work.
I think that a big key to not burning out as a coach is to not let burnout sneak up on you. Schedule regular short breaks during the day and get off the grid for 2 hours every night will help to make sure that won’t happen.
I have been pretty religious about doing these things for more than a year now. I had to do it because I was exhausted. Honestly, with the massive amount of work I had to take on taking over the program I did with only 2 part-time assistants, and having 2 kids within my first two years, I was pretty overwhelmed. Adding more time for energy and mental renewal has kept me coaching. I have more ideas for other things that you can do for mental and physical renewal on my website at www.mandygreencps.com.
Can I have 60 Seconds of your time? Please click here to take the College Coach Productivity Survey. To thank you for helping me out, I will email you my 11 Time Management Mistakes That College Coaches Make Free Report! I really appreciate your help.
Mandy Green is the creator of Coaching Productivity Strategies and is the author of The Green Time Management Workbook and Planner for College Coaches, a complete blueprint to helping you take control of your day with research of proven time and energy management methods that you can apply in your career, to recruiting, and to your personal life. For more advice on how to manage and organize your day and recruiting, please visit www.mandygreencps.com.
I’ve been writing about coaching for years. Here’s the thing … being a coach never ceases to amaze me.
Everyday, as I scour the internet, talk to peers, listen to conversations, and read books, I’m amazed by what coaches say, what they do, how they do what they do, and why they do it.
Especially how they handle adversity.
These past few weeks have been no exception. We have been given a raw peek into the work of coaching sports. On the highest-visible international-stage two professional American football coaches have had the following happen to them:
accused of cheating
accused of being stupid
accused of lying
The two coaches I’m talking about are Pete Carroll of the Seattle Seahawks, and Bill Belichick, of the New England Patriots. Both have had every essence of …
their being their ethics their morals their intelligence their character their integrity and their abilities
dissected, analyzed and criticized.
In public. On the largest stage ever created by humans.
One coach wins a world championship, the other coach loses it based on the outcome of a split second decision. And yet … and YET … through all of this craziness, both coaches have shown the true essence of coaching — finding a way forward.
I now present you Coaches Finding A Way Forward; in three actions …
ACTION 1: Positive Is Boss
Every coach, in every sport, in every country, needs to watch the following interview. In it, Pete Carroll, interviewed by Matt Lauer, gives the audience a raw, truthful, and beautiful view finding a way forward.
You have to watch this. But before you do, think about three things:
72 hours prior, Coach Carroll had just lost the Super Bowl due to “the worst possible result of a play” (his words). A play that he called.
Immediately after that game, Matt Lauer broadcasted to the world that “Coach Carroll just called the worst play ever in the history of football.”
Imagine YOU had just lost your championship, in the last seconds, based on the results of a call you made, AND the person that is now interviewing you had literally called you an idiot. Could you even come close to being as composed, and positive as this:
Take Away — attack the insurmountable: If the play had worked, and Seattle had scored, Carroll would be called a genius and hero. Yet, he is not. He acknowledges the challenges he has faced, and the ones that are ahead, but he is adamant about the way forward being bright and positive.
ACTION 2: Cool When It’s Hot
Bill Belichick, Carroll’s opposing coach at the Super Bowl, is a man of few words — especially in the media. The two weeks leading up to the SuperBowl, Belichick was accused of cheating in his team’s game against the Indianapolis Colts. Whether he did or he did not is not the issue here.
Instead, on an enormous stage, he presented what he knows, several times. Then at another press conference he shuts down questioning. He did all that it in a manner with control, with composure, and with precision. Could you have as much control and composure as this:
The Takeaway — Stay Composed: Regardless of what Belichick said in the conference, a significant number of the audience would never believe him. Logic is that the pressure to win at such a high level of coaching is so intense that he must have cheated, because, well … because. He knows many doubt him, yet he keeps emotions checked, presents, and stays composed.
ACTION 3: Help Another!
After winning the SuperBowl, Belichick, during a radio interview on WEEI, tells the world of non-football coaches to layoff Pete Carroll — that the criticism is out of control. Here is a brief summary of his comments (from ESPN):
“There has been a lot of criticism that I don’t think is anywhere close to being deserved or founded,” Belichick said Tuesday during his weekly appearance on sports radio WEEI in Boston. “that football team is very good, very well-coached, and Pete does a great job.
“Malcolm and Brandon [Browner], on that particular play, just made a great play. I think the criticism they’ve gotten for the game is totally out of line and by a lot of people who I don’t think are anywhere near even qualified to be commenting on it.
“I wouldn’t be able to say enough about Seattle,” he said. “They’re a great football team, well-coached. They deserve so much credit for what they’ve done, and how well they’ve done it,” he said on the program.
“I know they are disappointed, as we’ve been in that spot a couple times ourselves. So the high that we feel is probably not as high as the low that they feel. But that’s a really good football team.”
(Note, I’ve tried to find the original recording, with no success. I know it’s out there. If I find it, I’ll post a link here.)
The Takeaway: The competition is on the field. Off the field coaches support each other when they need it. Until you have walked in another person’s shoes, keep your opinions to yourself. That helps everyone move forward.
What Can You And I Learn From These Actions?
We have had a great opportunity to learn from two top coaches — who have just experienced the highest of highs and the lowest of lows. Here’s what I’ve learned, relearned, and hope not to forget:
1) I’m going to repeat this mantra many times, coaching sports can be freak-show. Truly insane. And so can the reaction be to what we do. I’m going to write about this more in my next post.
2) When things seem insurmountable, there can be a way forward — as evidenced by Carroll’s positive attitude, and Belichick’s perseverance.
3) Coaching sports is akin to riding on an emotional roller coaster. A coaster that would dwarf any amusement park roller coaster in size, duration, and intensity.
4) Surround yourself with an amazing social support system — one that is there for you regardless of where you are on said emotional roller coaster.
5) YOU define who YOU are. You have the power to do that. Do NOT give others that power.
6) Class is King & Queen. Coaches need to be classy at all times, that’s how we need to act as coaches. It’s not easy. Doesn’t matter. Don’t settle for less.
7) The Knife of Hindsight cuts many ways. Few of the cuts are helpful — most are harmful.
8) As a coach, you make split second decisions that can have an incredibly long life. Coach Carroll will forever have his decision questioned, publicly and privately. Yes, its part of coaching at that level. It is also part of coaching at ANY level.
I’ve noticed when I hit publish on similar articles, I’ll get some quick feedback like “Oh, good stuff.” Or, “”Interesting!”. Ultimately, folks are saying, “You’ve got my attention for a second, but life is coming at me like a freight train, so I’m off to other stuff.”
I understand. Honestly, I do.
However, the value of the lessons these past two weeks should be held close. So here is what I suggest,
When things seem insurmountable, take a breather and consider three things: (a) why you coach, (b) what legacy do you want to leave, and (c) how would a reasonable and prudent person act in your situation. Each can help guide you on the direction ahead.
When your world of coaching suddenly gets insane, (for instance, you lose the big one, there is a terrible injury, you get fired) and it can quickly turn into an insane world without notice, stay composed. It does not matter which sport you coach. Or the level you coach. Or the gender you coach. It can still get very insane. Sanity will eventually return. You staying composed and classy will help it return sooner.
You won’t remember Super Bowl XLIX for the touchdown-saving interception by the New England Patriots to beat the Seattle Seahawks.
Hopefully, after this article, you’ll remember it for what you’re about to learn from the a dancing shark. Specifically, the shark on the of left side of the TV screen dancing next to singer Katy Perry during the halftime show, no known famously as “Left Shark”.
But something interesting happened after all the laughing stopped. People felt a connection to Left Shark. They accepted Left Shark. Heck, they even embraced the failures and floundering of Left Shark. So much so, that Left Shark is now slated to be a top-selling Halloween costume, has people getting Left Shark tattooed on themselves…in fact, you can even take a love life test based on whether you identify with Left Shark or Right Shark. No doubt about it, Left Shark is riding high.
So here’s the question for college coaches:
Why is everybody talking about Left Shark – who showcased mistake after mistake in front of a worldwide television audience – and nobody is complimenting the perfect routine pulled-off by Right Shark?
Because our society roots for the underdog, if the underdog gives us a good reason for it. When people are honest about their limitations, and show us their imperfections, we respect the honesty. We respect their transparency. And, as a result, we gravitate towards them. Tiger Woods, once an unbeatable pro who had a knack for rubbing people the wrong way, is now a lovable underdog who people are rooting for because they are feeling a little sorry for him.
Which brings us to you, Coach:
Some of you reading this, you’re dealing with your own Left Shark when it comes to your school, your facilities or your program.
Your locker room was last updated during the Jimmy Carter administration.
There’s nothing to around campus except shop at Walmart (and that’s a 45 minutes drive away)
U.S. News ranked your college in lower 10% of every critical category they measure.
Your last conference championship happened just before they last updated your locker room.
You may have your own specific underdog, lovable loser story to tell. Most coaches can point to something that they would view as a big negative that they consistently have to deal with when it comes to their recruits.
If that’s the case, you have two choices: You can run and hide, or hope that your prospect somehow misses the fact that you aren’t close to a perfect program. Or, you can own it. And, you can define it for them.
Here’s a quick example:
“Your locker room is subpar”. First, understand, that according to our research this is not a consistent reason that your recruits would say no to you. But with that being said, I hear the locker room complaint from coaches often, so I wanted to use it as an example. To turn around this potential objection into an embraceable concept for your recruit, you might try something like this as you’re showing your prospects your locker room:
“You’re going to see other locker rooms at other colleges that might be newer than ours. But that’s not the way to make a smart college decision…it shouldn’t come down to what a locker room looks like. In my experience as a college coach, this team I have here right now is one of the closest-knit I’ve ever had. And I think that’s a LOT more important than how new a locker room is, don’t you?”
Address your Left Shark weakness, own it, justify it, and get your prospect’s agreement.
The truth is, your recruit needs to understand why they should overlook a perceived weakness with you, your program, or your college. But don’t stop there, Coach. Give them something to love about a seemingly negative weakness…give them a chance to embrace it. Show confidence in the way you explain it to them, so that they see you aren’t worried about it.
Your college is in a small town with not much to do? Left Shark it: Agree with them (own it!) and then explain why your team likes their college experience, and doesn’t see anything about the school as a negative.
Your program has a fairly mediocre history of success? Left Shark it: Agree with them (own it!), and tell them what you’ve tried in the past, what hasn’t worked, and what your plan for the future is now – especially how your recruit figures into that plan.
Too many college coaches shy away from confidently and quickly addressing a perceived weakness. What we find is that your recruits know you aren’t perfect, and they’re ready for you to explain those parts of your program to them.
Be the coach that gives a recruit a reason to root for the underdog, and embrace the Left Shark in you.
Need help developing strategies to communicate your weaknesses, as well as your strengths, then consider becoming a client. Dan Tudor and his team at Tudor Collegiate Strategies work with teams from around the country to perfect a strategic, systematic communication approach with their athletes. Click here for details.