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The On Purpose PersonMonday, February 29th, 2016

by Mandy Green, Coaching Productivity Strategies

In a typical day in the office, getting everything done on your to-do list is one thing.  Managing or controlling what you get done, how you get it done, when you get it done, and still have time at the end of the day to do more is a completely different thing and is something most coaches struggle with.

Coach, have you ever sat down and really analyzed how effective and efficient you are being with your day?  Which one do you focus on?  Is one more important to you than the other?

In his book, The On-Purpose Person, author Kevin McCarthy describes the difference between efficiency and effectiveness. “Efficiency is doing things right in the most economical way possible; effectiveness is doing the right things that get you closer to your goals.”
 
It seems to me that being efficient without regard to effectiveness is the default mode of the universe.  I believe that what you do is infinitely more important than how you do it.   Now, being efficient is still important, but we all know that it is useless unless applied to the right things. 
 
There are two ways for you to increase productivity that are inversions of each other:

  1. Limit daily tasks just to the important to shorten your work time (80/20).
    2. Shorten work time to limit your tasks so you only focus on the important (Parkinson’s Law)

    A few months ago I wrote about Pareto’s 80/20 rule.  If you don’t remember Pareto’s Law, it can be summarized as follows: 20 percent of your priorities will give you 80 percent of your production.

    Ask yourself these two questions about your program, your team, and your staff:
    –Which 20% of sources are resulting in 80% of my desired outcomes and happiness? 
    –Which 20% of sources are causing 80% of my problems and unhappiness?
     
    Once you have identified your top 20%, commit to scheduling those activities into your day, everyday into your Winning In the Office Time Management System For College Coaches.  Then, go the next step further by putting a time restriction on how long you will give yourself to complete each high-priority activity.   

Timothy Ferriss, in The 4-Hour Workweek introduces a concept called Parkinson’s Law.  Parkinson’s Law dictates that a task will swell in perceived importance and complexity in relation to the time allotted for its completion. 

 

The best solution I think is to use 80/20 and Parkinson’s Law together:  Identify the few critical high-payoff tasks that contribute most to effectiveness and efficiency within your program and then schedule each activity with very short and clear deadlines. 
 
Coach, it is critical to the success of your program that you know what your high-priority activities are and are incorporating those high-payoff activities into your schedule consistently every single day.  Once identified, set an aggressive deadline for each task and block off certain sections of your day where you focus on nothing but that task to ensure completion. 
 
If you haven’t identified your high-priority tasks and are not setting aggressive start and end times for their completion, the unimportant emails, phone calls, and people popping their head into your office becomes the important.  These unimportant things can and will eat up a good chunk of your day if you continue to let them. 
 
You will be amazed at how much better you will feel when you take control of your day.  A more productive you in the office will lead to less stress and less chaos. Even better, I can almost 100% guarantee you that just by your becoming more productive with your day, your family, your team, and your staff will be much happier as well.   

How Do I Get Athletes To Respond To My Emails?Monday, February 29th, 2016

by Mike Davenport, CoachingSportsToday.com

I hit “Send Message” and waited.

And waited.

And waited.

My head began to spin … I muttered, “What’s wrong with these athletes — why don’t they respond?”

  • Do they hate me?
  • Have they quit?
  • Were they kidnapped?
  • Are they conspiring against me?

Nothing but silence. Argh …

You’ve probably had the same experience

Many coaches asked, “how do I get athletes to respond to emails,” in my digital impact survey. It’s something that annoys a lot coaches — not just me.

Here’s the good thing…its an issue WE can do something about.

Here’s the bad thing…WE are probably the problem.

It’s a generational thing

If you coach high-school or college athletes, then you coach a very special generation — the “Millennials.” Born between 1984-2002 (there’s no agreement on these actual dates) they are the first generation of digital natives. Their lives have always had computers and email and quick communications.

They are comfortable around different platforms and quick exchanges. And drumroll please … THEY prefer YOU communicate with them on THEIR terms.

And if you don’t communicate their way, then you’re not going to get an answer.

As I found out.

So, How Do You Get Responses?

Here’s a few questions to consider:

  • Do YOU have to communicate by email?
  • Are YOU open to trying other methods?
  • Have you discussed with your athletes what method THEY prefer?

Hold onto your answers for a moment.

Y’see, the email thing drove me nuts. Then I realized that I can get a timely response, if I did a little tweaking.

So I tweaked and here’s what I did.

A) I meet them where they are. This generation values the right tool for the right job. Email might have worked for me — but it did not work for them. Which means it no longer worked for me … right?

So I asked what they used, and then starting using it.

To reach my team quickly, it’s GroupMe.
To reach individuals fast it’s SMS (texting).
For info to be digested later, its email.
Phones hardly get answered.

That’s what they prefer. I didn’t. They did. So now I do.

I look at it this way — who wins if I were to take a stand and demand they use email? Not me. And not the team.

Yet, there are times when I HAVE to send email.

B) I send only necessary emails. When I HAVE to send an email (say, an important message from the College needing action) I’ll forward that to the athletes. And I’ll send along a group text prompting them to answer the email. I don’t send wasted emails such as “I appreciate that …” or “no worries”, because those get in the way.

Also, I …

C) Set their expectations. I told the team we will need to communicate for many reasons (schedule changes, emergencies, organizational issues, etc.). So they knew I was going to send them emails to respond to. Usually no more than once a week. And they let me know they get a lot of email so if there was something that I had to send by email,

I needed to …

D) Use the subject lines smartly. When sending an email that needed a response, I am specific in the subject line. If I need an immediate response, I’ll put [Immediate Response Need]. If it’s a mission critical missive that doesn’t need a response, I’ll put in the subject line [Read NOW, no response needed].

Another tweak to my system that helps my emails get through is I …

E) Set a time. We often have practice time changes due to weather. Our team knows that by 3:30 pm each day I’ll send out an email with any changes. So they know to check their email by then.

I also …

F) Set a date. Every Sunday night I send an email to the team that outlines the schedule for the upcoming week. Here’s a sample:

02-28-16 - this week example

It’s not live-rocket-surgery, or original (I borrowed it from a neighbor-coach), but it works.

Another tweak I’ve done is …

G) I try to be the example. There are times when the athletes send me an email. For instance, a recommendation request to be a peer mentor. As soon as that arrives I do my best to be the example of how I want them to act.

I’ll send a brief email to the athlete along the lines of, “I just got your request, and will get to it as soon as my schedule allows.” After I’ve completed the form, I let the athlete know, by email, it’s completed. All the while acting like I want them to act.

I also let the team know that I …

H) Learn and try new tools. This is an important step. Hotter & Grant reported, “Millennials are comfortable in a digital world where improvement is continuous and learning happens all the time. In fact, they are a little puzzled that [others] do not have the same emphasis on learning and development.” This was in their book, When Millennials Take Over.

By trying to learn a new method of communicating, I’m showing the athletes that I’m trying to meet them where they are. And for this generation, that’s important.

Try This For YOU!

Try just one of those actions and see if after a week or two, you don’t get a bit more responses. They have helped my emails get through and improved my response rate. But I know if I need a quick responses I don’t count on email.

— — —

Is this something you struggle with? Do you have other suggestions you could share? I’d love to know what works and what doesn’t. It’s how we all get better.

There’s a great week ahead for you. Enjoy it!

⁃ Mike
PS: Speaking of helping us get better, I’m working on my next book, Coaching Sports In A Digital World (working title). Here’s the thing, I’m looking for coaches who have a story or tweak they’d like to share. If you’re interested, you can drop me an email by clicking right here. (I’ll respond, promise). Who knows, you might just end up in a book ; )

And my recent book, Build Your Team, will be back from the editors shortly. It will be sold through Amazon but you can get a copy for no cost by clicking right here. (And if you’ve completed the survey, your copy will be coming PDQ)

Either or both steps could help us all get better. Thanks.

What the Silent Treatment From Recruits Might MeanTuesday, February 23rd, 2016

by Jeremy Tiers, Director of Admissions Services

Here at Tudor Collegiate Strategies we encourage our clients to bring us special projects. One of the things that we’ve helped multiple admissions departments with recently is developing a strategy to connect with “cold inquiries.”

Winter is one of the most difficult times of year to maintain, or continue, good communication not only with inquiries but also, in some cases, admitted students. I could be describing some of your seniors who are done with the initial excitement that came in those first few conversations or communications with you. Or, I might be talking about students that you’ve admitted, but haven’t come to their final decisions yet.

In either scenario, and those are just two quick examples, the immediate reaction for many counselors is a combination of frustration and urgency…and when a college recruiter is frustrated and feeling pressured when engaged in ongoing communication with their recruits, bad things often follow. I’m talking about things like becoming pushy, stopping communication all-together, or asking specific questions way too soon in an effort to move that student to the next stage of the funnel.

All of these actions could be devastating, not only in your efforts to continue effective communication, but also in your efforts to eventually win over that student and have them agree that your school is the “smart, right fit” for them.

Today I want to try and take you inside your prospect’s head and give you an idea of what they might be thinking or feeling.  There’s a reason for the silence, and it’s important that you understand some of those motivations that will lead them to stop communication with you.  That understanding will give you the roadmap you’ll need to continue, or reignite, effective communication with your recruit.

Here are five of the most common factors that could be behind your prospect’s silence:

  1. They’re not interested any longer, and they just don’t want to tell you. No surprise here. As you probably already know, this is one of the most common reasons for non-communication. Why don’t they just tell you that they’ve lost interest, right? If only it were that simple. Bottom line: young people have a hard time telling others NO.  Our research also says that they’re afraid you’ll get mad at them. Right or wrong, this is who you’re dealing with. By being silent, they hope you just sort of fade away so that they don’t have to have that uncomfortable conversation with you.  I want you to confront it and address it. That’s your next move.
  2. They wonder just how serious about them you are, so they aren’t sure they want to invest time into you. How could this happen? The most common answer we hear when we conduct focus groups on the topic is simple: Inconsistency in the story that is told, primarily through letters and emails. Colleges that send a few things at the start of the recruiting process, and then slowly trail off into inconsistent messaging, almost guarantee this result.  How can you expect your recruits to have a reason to keep communicating with you when you haven’t done the same with them?
  3. They’re interested, but they don’t know what to do or say next. This usually results from counselors who make their conversations and messages all about giving information about their school sprinkled in with, “How did your day go?” phone calls that end up going nowhere. No matter what stage your recruit is at, they’re always looking for the next step. For example, when it comes to your admitted students, they might be ready to pull the trigger and deposit to your school…if you simply ask for their commitment.  Think about it – If you’ve built trust, understood their needs, talked to their parents, gained agreement from them (“little yeses”) along the way and answered any objections, then the next logical step is to ask for their commitment. If they’re not ready, they’ll tell you.  If they are ready, you just got the win. So, if you’re noticing increasing silence, it could be because they’re stuck and don’t know what to do or say next.  You need to lead the way!
  4. They don’t like talking on the phone. You read that right…it could be as simple as that.  If you’ve moved through the communication process and are at the point where you think talking on the phone is the most personal, most effective method of communication, make sure your prospect feels the same way.  Most recruits don’t like speaking on the phone but just won’t tell you (again, because they don’t want to offend you and they’re worried you’ll get mad at them). Make sure you’re on the same page, and if you find that phone calls just aren’t working, then revert back to email or consider texting in an effort to get some kind of conversation going again.
  5. They’re busy and overwhelmed. When we look at our research data, both with students and student-athletes, the two most common reasons they give us for not being prompt in returning a school’s call is that they’re busy with high school life as well as being overwhelmed with the college search process in general.  They wonder how they’re going to find time to talk to all those colleges, and even more so, what on earth they’re going to say. There is no magic fix to this one. However, I want you to know that your recruit might be very interested in what your school offers them. They just might be a little overwhelmed at this point and feel like they don’t know what to say next (or if they’ll have time to say it).

Silence from your recruits is a common problem, and I would advise you to expect it at some point from the vast majority of your inquiries, prospects and admits. What you do with that silence is up to you. You need to seek out why they’re being silent and then effectively address any concerns.

DID YOU KNOW that we don’t charge anything extra for special projects if you’re a client?

We can give you an Admissions Recruiting Advantage right now! Simply email me jeremytiers@gmail.com for more information. No pressure, just information.

Why College Coaches Need to Search Out the “No”Monday, February 22nd, 2016

No doubt about it, the primary focus of a college recruiter is to get the “yes” from one of their prospects.

When you get a yes, it’s one more piece of the puzzle in place: A piece that either keeps the dynasty rolling, or gets you one step closer to building that winner.

It’s all about the “yes”.

But if you want to get the “yes”, you’re going to have to try to get your prospects to say “no” more often.

Sounds counter-intuitive, right?

I mean, why would a coach even want to approach the concept of “no” into their recruits’ vernacular? A lot of college coaches want to stay 100% positive, 100% of the time. It’s all about selling the benefits, getting them to fall in love with your campus, and repeat back all the ways they love you and can’t wait to come play for you.

But in your gut, you know it’s more complicated than that. You know that the game has changed.

This generation of recruits are more savvy than ever when it comes to how to play the recruiting game, and how to use it’s timeline to their advantage. In addition, this generation seems to have very little apprehension when it comes to not exactly telling coaches like you the whole truth. And that means you wait…and lose other recruits while waiting…and, in many cases, eventually lose that recruit you were waiting on who was never telling you the whole truth.

My recommended solution? Search out the “no”.

Throughout the recruiting process, I firmly believe that you should put your prospect in a position of having to tell you ‘no’ more often. Especially towards the end of the process.

Why? Because I’ve seen more recruiting classes ruined, and more coaching careers stall, due to waiting on recruits and never demanding a “no”.

So, assuming I’ve sold you on the general idea of getting your prospects to say “no”, here are some ideas on where I’ve seen it work when we’ve strategically used it as an effective “secret weapon” with our clients over the past several years:

Early in the process, search out the “no”. One of the classic mistakes we’ve seen coaches at all levels make as the put together their initial list of a recruiting class is that they assume all of them a serious possibilities, and that all of them are going to give you a fair hearing when it comes to what you have to offer.

Sadly, that’s not the case: Many would eliminate you quickly, for example, when it comes to where you are located. You’re either too close to home, or too far from home. And there isn’t anything you can do to change their mind on the topic. You, as a recruiter, should make it your goal to uncover that line of thought as soon as possible. So, as an example of how you “search out the no”, ask a recruit who is far away, “Tell me why it feels smart for you to leave home and go away to school out of state?” In my experience, a recruit who can give you solid answers to this question that demonstrates they’ve thought about it and has come up with good reasons it makes sense for them, then I think that is a type of “yes”. Alternatively, if they give a wishy-washy answer and doesn’t lay some specific thinking as to why the idea makes sense to them, then you might treat that as a real red flag…maybe even a type of “no”.

The philosophy of searching out no’s early on in the process really centers around the idea of finding out who is truly interested in (or at least open to) the idea of playing at your college. Our rough science says four out of every ten would never consider you, but also won’t tell you right away (hey, it’s fun when you show them attention, and maybe they can use you to pressure the other school they really want to go to). My goal, on your behalf, is to narrow your list sooner and not waste time with the 40% that you have no shot at.

That’s just one of the ways you can, and should, use the concept of searching out a “no” early in the process.

In the middle of the process, search out the “no”. As you approach the point where you know you have their interest, but aren’t sure where you stand, I recommend setting a fair but firm deadline. (Actually, I’d recommend that at the beginning of the process, but even getting our clients comfortably with that philosophy is sometimes a challenge, so I’m throwing it in here for your consideration).

I’m not talking about a 24 or 48 hour deadline that some coaches use (yes, those kinds of deadlines do work at times, but they are also the most likely to turn into a de-commit or transfer situation down the road). I’m talking about a fair, long term deadline (or “horizon”, as I like to refer to it) that lets your prospect know early or midway through the process when they need to make a decision, and why.

There are entire days we spend with coaching staffs to outline with strategy in a workshop we’ve developed on this idea, but let me try to give you the highly condensed version here: Set a deadline for making a final decision months in advance; use that deadline reference matter-of-factly as a reference point for making a decision throughout the process, along with telling them why they should choose you on a consistent basis by telling an effective story through your recruiting communication; make sure they get to be on campus and spend time with your team; when the deadline date approaches, ask for their decision (more on that step in a moment).

At each step of the process during the middle of the process, you need to be looking for signals that they are either 1) leaning away from you and towards a competitor, or 2) have decided against you, but have not verbalized that to you. As you go through the meat of your recruiting process, make these two red flags the constant thing you try to uncover.

In working with many, many college coaches and their programs over the years, I firmly believe that this is where the recruiting game is won or lost. More coaching careers, in fact, have been ruined with the false belief that they were a prospect’s top choice, only to find out that they were never really in the running with that recruit. Problem was, the recruit didn’t want a coach to criticize of demean their choice, or they didn’t want to hurt the coach’s feelings, and so they don’t say anything. And, well…you know the rest of the story.

Be vigilant in searching out negative signs throughout the middle of the process. The worst thing that will happen is that you’ll find a “no” and then be able to move on to the next process on your list before your competition does.

At the end of the process, search out the “no”.  One of the most curious sociological phenomenons I’ve observed this past decade is the abject terror that many coaches feel towards the end of the recruiting process when it obviously becomes time to ask a recruit to tell them yes or no.

To be clear, I understand why they feel that way; that recruit represents months of work invested into getting them to this point in the process, not to mention the hopes of a stronger future for their program. And yet, at some point, dreams of a stronger recruiting class and reality have to intersect.

There has to be an end point. And, in my strong opinion, most recruiting scenarios demand that that the coach be the one to define that end point. That either means you’ll hear your prospect say “yes”, or “no”.

The general rule that we’ve seen work well for coaches is this: If you’ve communicated with your prospect on a consistent basis for a good amount of time, explained why your program should be their choice, have had them to campus, and have either 1) given them their scholarship offer, or when there is no scholarship money b) told them that you want them on your team and are offering them a spot on your roster, then it’s reasonable for you to ask them for their decision. More bluntly, you can demand that they tell you yes, or no.

First the good news: A good number of your recruits, at the end of the process, will tell you “yes”. The truth is, this generation – and their parents – need you to ask them for action that they can react to (i.e., you ask them for their answer, and only then will they tell you their answer). I could give you literally hundreds of examples where this simple process has resulted in a favorable decision for the coach.

Now the bad news: They might tell you “no”. But since it’s towards the end of the their recruiting process, is that necessarily a bad thing? A “no” means that you are approaching this critical point of the process realistically, and accurately.

If you doubt whether or not your prospect is indeed ready to make a decision at the end, and tell you ‘yes’ or ‘no’, ask yourself and your staff, “What more can we show them or tell them to get them to feel ready to give us their answer?” If the only thing you can come up with is “more time for them to think about our offer”, that’s usually a weak justification. More time rarely works in a program’s favor; once in a great while, it does. But not enough times to justify it as your go-to strategy, in my experience.

You’ve set a fair but firm deadline, you’ve told your story, made your offer, and asked for their commitment. If they still can’t tell you “yes”, then what they are really telling you is “no”. Look for that at the end of the process.

The word “no” can be one of your best allies in the battle for recruits. But you have to manage that word, and incorporate it into your recruiting strategy.

That takes guts. But as the saying goes, “No Guts, No Glory”.

Come to the upcoming National Collegiate Recruiting Conference this Summer to dive in to this philosophy in greater detail, and learn to put together a better overall recruiting strategy for your program. Click here to reserve your seat, Coach!

6 Things Successful Coaches Do Within The 1st Work HourMonday, February 22nd, 2016

by Mandy Green, Coaching Productivity Strategies 

I read a lot about how successful people manage their day so that I can be more productive during the day.  A pretty consistent message being sent is that successful people understand the importance of having control over their mornings and know how to use that time wisely.  These people are able to weed out the noise in their first hour and focus on what matters to grow their career or program.

The first hour of the workday is critical for coaches, since it can affect your productivity level and mindset for the rest of the day.

Now, a lot of coaches I have spoken to over the last year tell me that they are buried in minutiae. Or at least that’s how they feel. Too many emails to read, phone calls to make, text messages to send, errands to run, practices to plan, recruiting events to attend, books to read, and camps to run.

Something’s got to give. In most cases, unfortunately for coaches, they are putting in longer and longer hours and sacrificing their personal rest and recovery or family time.  

Coaching doesn’t have to be this way. You can change your relationship with time and control your day better by establishing a good morning routine.    

Today I want to show you how to maximize your productivity by taking full advantage of the first few hours of the workday.  Jumpstarting your day the right way will not only get you started on the right foot but can help prevent those dreaded end-of-day crises from erupting. Leverage your morning hours as effectively as possible by following these seven simple steps.

  1. Have a Plan

Using the mornings (or the night before) to do big-picture thinking helps you prioritize and set the trajectory of the day.  Decide what are the 3 most important tasks that you’d like to accomplish in order for you to feel like the day was a success and will ultimately take you a step closer to reaching your career, program, or team goals.  Then put it in your schedule.  

  1. Get in Early

Ideally, get in an hour or 2 before the chaos starts.  Being an early bird gives you a period of uninterrupted, near magical time where you can work on your major goals in isolation, shielded from the screaming demands you will no doubt face throughout the course of the day. Those early hours in the office (or even at home) are a great time to focus on your recruiting or another important work project because it tends to be quieter and more distraction-free.

  1. Email Routine

All time management experts will tell you to not check your email first thing in the morning.  However, I’m pretty sure 99% of us do check email pretty near the start of the day and email is an important part of our job.  The trick is to have a proactive routine with it first thing in the morning so you are not reacting to it all day long.  

  1. Check in with your people

A 10-minute meeting with your fellow coaches (if you have them) is a great way to start the day and to keep everyone motivated and on course. Also taking the time to greet your staff first thing with a smile will help build rapport and camaraderie and it can have a significant impact on their attitude and productivity throughout the day.  Discuss the plan of action and get everybody focused on their most important responsibilities for the day.  Make are all questions are answered, then leave each other alone for the next couple hours so all can get to work without needing to interrupt each other.   

  1. Tackle what’s most important

Once your staff meeting is done, go back to your office, close the door, shut off your phone and email, block off as much time as you need (I do 90 minutes) and get to work on your most important task.  

Great mornings don’t just happen. They’re planned and nurtured. It’s about creating a routine that works, that keeps you inspired and not just wired, about making you happier and satisfied.

Mandy Green is the creator of Coaching Productivity Strategies (Join her on Facebook here) and the author of Green Time Management Workbook and Planner for College Coaches, a complete blueprint to helping you take control of your time and energy with research of proven methods in your career, in your business and in your personal life. She has created a unique daily planning system to help College Coaches stay on track for these goals each and every day.

Are Your Athletes Glued To Their Smartphones?Monday, February 22nd, 2016

by Mike Davenport, CoachingSportsToday.com

Do they hear only half (or less) of what you say?

Is it hard for them to concentrate during practice?

Are you wondering why they don’t respond to your emails?

If so, then when I say “attention is your new battlefront” you understand.

Right now, it’s tough getting and keeping your athlete’s attention. 

But you have to, because if you don’t you won’t stand a chance of surviving as a coach.

Why?

Because a coach must guide, must nurture, and must protect — and that won’t happen if your athletes are zoned-out and ignoring you.

Curse You, Smartphones

It’s easy to blame smartphones for your athlete’s brains being somewhere else. But do that and you miss the big picture — and a few important reasons your words fall on deaf ears.

Here’s what I mean.

First, your athletes are a skeptical lot. If they are between 12 & 34-years old then you are coaching Millennials. A trait of Millennials is they are skeptical. They ask things like:

  • Why should I believe you?
  • What’s in it for me?
  • How can you help me?
  • Can I trust you?

You might not hear those questions but they are asked. And if you aren’t answering them to their liking, then why SHOULD they pay attention to you?

Second, a tidal wave of information is hitting your athletes square in the face — everyday. It’s almost impossible for them to hide from the incoming stream of messages/information/requests — making it hard for the athletes to concentrate. So, why SHOULD your words stand out? Is listening to your message more important, more engaging, more entertaining, more helpful then all the rest?

Third, the Millennials (yes, back to them) want to know what is going on. They want information — scratch that — they demand it. And they don’t like not getting it. Which means, if they feel that they are only getting half the story, they WILL stop listening.

Fourth, now to smartphones. At your athlete’s fingertips is that constant stream we just talked about. And it’s there all the time.

Most athletes don’t have filters or times limits on their phones. So they are the ones who have been put in charge of monitoring their own smartphone use. And you are a witness to how well that’s working.

As my dad used to say, “The kids have been given the keys to the candy shop.

Finally, social media is this generation’s Cheers. It’s the place they go because everyone knows their name. So when the real word gets uncomfortable, boring, or stressful social media offers an engaging haven. Can’t blame them, I guess.

It’s almost like a perfect storm between their generation, smartphones and the appeal of social media. What’s a coach to do?

I’m glad you asked.

Your Attention Strategy

Here’s the centerpiece of any attention strategy — athletes GIVE you their attention. You can’t grab it or steal it. Screaming and berating won’t work. They have to give it to you, and to get them to give it I offer a few suggestions that might work:

A. Set up a distraction free zone. Have them put their phones away, off and out of sight.

B. Don’t  be tempted to meet them half way.Just turn your phones off and put them down,” is not enough. It has been shown that a smartphone in plain site, even turned off, is a distraction. Not just to the owner but to those who can see it. “Phones off and out-of-sight,” is a good mantra.

C. Matter more. With their phones away, explain to them what you are trying to achieve, and why. They want to know the why. “Because I said so,” just annoys them, and their attention is gone. “Because we will be working on you getting better, that’s what’s in it for you,” goes much further.

D. Tell the athlete’s “support-people” what you are trying to do, and what you are noticing. Those people could be a youngster’s parents or a college student’s friend. Maybe they can help.

E. Be the example. Turn your own phone off, and put it away. “Ah, but I use it for video, and pictures.” Get a digital camera or use a GoPro Hero. See B, and phone away.

F. Set the expectations. Expect your athletes to follow your lead, and help them to do it.

G. Be Engaging. When you talk to them, make your content so engaging that they cannot resist giving you their attention.

I. Have them write. In a meeting or class session, have the athletes write notes on paper. The act of writing deepens engagement and snags attention.

J. Reward them. Rewards like self-satisfaction and a sense of purpose grabs and holds people’s attention. Identify the rewards that most appeal to your athletes and use them to get their attention.

K. Use Your Reputation.  If you’re trying to capture the attention of people who don’t know you, tell them about your expertise. Robert Cialdini calls this “directed deference.” His book, Yes: 50 Scientifically Proven Ways to Be Persuasive, is a must read.

L. Use Mystery. We love stories, and our brains are fine-tuned to remember incomplete stories and tasks. We also dislike uncertainty. Using stories at a base level grabs people’s attention.

M. Be brief. Respect them by getting right to the point. Don’t waste their time.

N. Use images. Words are only one-half of the way our brain is designed to process the World. Images are the other half. Simple images can grab and hold attention, and are a great way to promote long term memories. I wrote about that here, on Copyblogger.com.

O. Love boredom. This sounds strange, but if an athlete says, “I’m bored,” tell him that’s good. Solitude and boredom are a respite from our crazy world, and are times when we do some of our most creative thinking. Personally, I believe boredom can be very productive, giving the brain an opportunity to free-style think. Boredom isn’t a bad thing. Your athletes should know that.

— — —

You, and everyone else in the world, are vying for your athlete’s attention. You’ve got to:

  • out-think
  • out-promote
  • out-engage

those others. It’s a battle you need to win. I’d love to hear how you are fighting it.

– Mike

Don’t Make This Mistake Down the Stretch With Admitted StudentsTuesday, February 16th, 2016

by Jeremy Tiers, Director of Admissions Services

Recruiting at a high level is hard work. It’s demanding.  It requires consistency and the ability to problem solve over and over again. When you’re dealing with teenagers and young adults who constantly change their minds, there will be frustration. We work with colleges and universities, big and small, and I can tell you that when the office doors close everyone has the same struggles and concerns when it comes to recruiting that next class.

As we enter the second half of February, more and more prospects are receiving admissions decisions. That means many of you are entering the final, critical phase of the recruiting cycle.

Today I want to bring to your attention a common mistake that we see many admissions professionals make late in the process that impacts yield in a negative way.

First, the good news – If you’re making this mistake, there’s still time to fix it. You don’t have to wait until next year’s recruiting class to make changes.

During our On-Campus Workshops with admissions departments, we constantly talk about not only forming a meaningful connection with a prospective student and his or her family, but the importance of strengthening that bond throughout the entire recruitment cycle. The key word there is “entire” because here’s where the big mistake starts to occur. Too many admissions counselors shift their communication efforts into cruise control after a prospect is admitted.

When discussing this communication issue with counselors during 1-on-1 meetings that accompany our admissions workshop, the most common phrases I hear go something like, “They already know everything about our school,” or “I don’t want to just repeat the same things over again.” My response to statements like those is simple. If you fail to continue to have meaningful conversations with your admitted students, don’t be shocked if many of them choose to enroll elsewhere. Let me take that one step further. If you’re having trouble coming up with things to talk to your admits about that don’t include college admissions or your school, I’d wager to say you haven’t built a strong enough rapport yet.

Now that we’ve addressed this common misstep, let’s talk about how to fix it. Here are two easy things that any counselor can start doing today that will make a difference.

  1. Keep giving them reasons to pick your school. Your prospects crave direction. Even after they get admitted, they’re still looking for good reasons to ultimately choose your institution. Make sure you’re giving those to them. Too often we see schools slow down their communication flow to admitted students. Big mistake! Let me remind you that your prospects tell us they want a logical, foundational message about your school every 6 to 9 days. That doesn’t change after you admit them. If you think you’re going to wait until an admitted student day event and then “close the deal” in one day or one weekend, you’re taking an awfully big risk. Like it or not, other colleges will continue to recruit them…and would it surprise you to know that admitted students have told us that they even start to consider new schools because they just aren’t 100% sure yet that they’ve found that “right fit?” You need to continue to clearly communicate reasons why your school is the obvious choice. Don’t just assume that they know.
  1. Whatever you do, please don’t forget to talk to the parents. If you’re reading my newsletter for the first or even second time, let me explain why. Our research on how prospects make their final decision tells us that parents continue to be their biggest outside influencer. That means if you don’t communicate consistently with them at this point in time, you leave open the possibility of unanswered questions or objections. We’ve found that a conversation with the parents during this critical time period can be very insightful. They will often provide counselors with usable information as well as a look at what’s going on behind the scenes.

In this final crucial phase of the recruiting cycle you can’t just sit back and wait for your admitted students to hopefully pick your school. Well, you could, but I wouldn’t recommend it. Successful admissions professionals understand the importance of continuing to cultivate relationships from start to finish. If you’re not doing that right now, it’s time to make a change.

My goal each week is to provide you with information and strategies that will help you become a more efficient recruiter and a better communicator.  As always, feel free to reach out to me at jeremy@dantudor.com with any questions or comments.

Is It Time to Fight Back Against ‘Sport Specialization’?Monday, February 15th, 2016

 

Leslie Huntington is the head softball coach at the University of Wisconsin – Eau Claire. The following are her observations on what she sees as a growing problem in youth sports specialization, as outlined in detail in the article, “Arizona Softball and Baseball Coaches Concerned About Overuse of High School Athletes”:

 

by Leslie Huntington

These are the OPINIONS I’ve formed from being in the profession – not from formal research or literature reviews, but by living this every day:

1. Specialization – remember when kids played a different sport every season? And remember when you got asked, “What’s your favorite sport?” And your answer was, “During volleyball season, VB is my favorite, and during basketball season, that’s my favorite, and during softball season, that’s my favorite.” Every season was “fresh.” So every time you changed to a different sport, it was exciting. YOU KEPT LOVING THE GAME.

What I see happening as a result of specialization:

A. Kids “lose their fire” WAY too early. They participate in “their” sport as many days of the year (or maybe in some cases, more) than a college athlete. (even college athletes are given time off) And when they get to college, they realize they have a chance to quit. They have new found freedom and independence and suddenly they realize there are other things to do that can occupy their time.

B. The wear and tear on the same body parts WILL eventually result in a breakdown. It’s quite simple – OVERUSE. Add to this the potential that they are using inefficient/poor mechanics – that breakdown is going to happen much sooner.

C. Loss of athleticism – a variety of sports and the activities that go with those sports, helps create more athleticism. Different movements (multi-directional), and different body parts developing speed/agility and function, leads to increased athleticism. As part of our dynamic warm up for practice I will occasionally have my players jump rope. Why can I jump rope 10 times better than they can, at over twice their age? I am amused by how puzzled they look when I jump rope. I had a player once who was warming up for practice jumping rope and I grabbed one and started to do a variety of footwork things while jumping – her comment was “Why are you so good at that and what did you do with my coach?” LOL

2. Competition – this article nails this one. As a college coach, I want to see prospective student-athletes COMPETE. At a tournament in the middle of July when I’m watching a kid play 4 pool play games when it’s 100 degrees outside, how much do I get to see them COMPETE? I know some of you will say “Well they should compete ALL the time,” and I agree. But let’s be real here. Not gonna happen.

In this same category we can discuss young kids playing multiple games in a day and the potential for injury. Not to mention the mental and emotional toll this type of schedule takes. Again, some will say, this is teaching them to be mentally tough. To that I would say I disagree. Kids aren’t born mentally tough – they can have a level of “toughness” but they have to be TAUGHT mental toughness. And you don’t teach a kid how to be mentally tough by yelling at them to “get tougher!”

3. Exposure – So why do kids do all this specialization? Why have they decided that camps are a waste of time and money and they need to travel across the country every weekend to “compete?” It’s for “exposure.”

It seems to me that they are all seeking the opportunity to play at the next level.

I get it – if you don’t go to that tournament you might miss out on that college coach seeing you play. I’m in the same boat – if I don’t go to that showcase, and all my competitors are there, I might miss out on that key recruit.

But when you attend these “exposure” events, be realistic with what age group college coaches are recruiting. How can I recruit an 8th grader when I don’t even know who she’ll be replacing on my team???

To think that a softball player who is my nephew’s age is making a decision on where to attend college is nothing short of ridiculous. My nephew’s biggest dilemma on a daily basis is which Star Wars movie to watch. I can’t IMAGINE him making a college decision right now and if he did, I’d have a major discussion with him and his parents.

In all honesty, and I say this with no ill-will toward any colleagues, but I really hope these early verbals start to bite coaches in the rear. The real people who have the ability to do something about this craziness are the college coaches (and I include myself in that lot – hence the diatribe here). And once one of the “big names” gets bit, things will start to change.

Bottom line – I want kids who are excited to play softball. Kids who have played multiple sports – because I believe those are the kids who will continue to love and have passion for the game. I want kids who are going to compete every day – because after this phase of their life is over, they are going to have to compete every day OFF the softball field. I want kids who find joy in playing the game, because if you can’t find joy in playing the game, it’s really time to hang up your cleats. You’re not going to make any team better, and you’re going to be miserable.

So I guess the real question for all of us is ……. “Why?”

We want to thank Coach Leslie Huntington for permission to reprint this from her original Facebook post. You can comment and connect with Coach Huntington at @BlugoldCoachH on Twitter, or by email at huntinla@uwec.edu

Coaching Sports and Social Media SafetyMonday, February 15th, 2016

by Mike Davenport, CoachingSportsToday.com

You sit down at your desk — there’s a call on your cell phone. As you answer you look over and there’s a voice mail on your office phone. Then your email goes nuts. Your Twitter stream starts rolling. What’s with all those freaky things happening on your FaceBook page?

There’s a pounding on the door. You forget all that other stuff, because standing there is your Athletic Director. Red faced. Giving you the laser eyes.

Then he’s waving HIS phone in front of YOUR face. “Tell me you’ve seen what your first-basemen posted on Snap Chat. Tell me you have a plan how to fix this! Tell me NOW!!”

The Worlds Biggest Megaphone

Humans are great at creating new things — new technology. But we are lousy at giving parameters on how to use them.

Look no further than social media for a current example. We have at our finger tips a digital megaphone that can amplify your voice so loud anyone on the planet can hear it. But no one has told us what to say, and especially HOW to say it in this megaphone.

Let’s be clear about one thing, the companies that created social media did not do so to help people. They did it to make money. That leaves you and I to figure out how best to use our social media megaphone. And when team members and/or coaches say the wrong thing on this wicked-big-megaphone there are prices to pay.

It’s a wicked huge issue

Last week I posted a survey about the impact of digital on coaches (have you completed yours?) Two results jump out.

First, 35% of coaches said that the impact of digital was one of their biggest issues. Second, several coaches asked questions like:

What is the best way to prevent athletes from posting inappropriate things on social media that hinder the reputation and the appearance of the team?”

FieldHouse Media conducted a survey of collegiate athletes and their social media use, in 2015. They reported that “43% [of athletes] spend more than an hour on social media each day with 37% of them saying they’ve posted something they regret.”

An athlete posting something he “regrets,” that impacts only him, is unfortunate.

An athlete posting something that negatively impacts you, your team, or your school, could mean your job. Or at least a significant part of your sanity.

It’s an issue. A big one.

But its just not an athlete issue

Athletes are NOT the only ones who misstep on social media. Coaches do, and when they do they get fired.

This is a bigger issue than just athletes — on so many levels. (The other day a coach complained to me about athletes always being on their phones, as he proceeded to fiddle with his all during the conversation.)

[Douglas Rushkoffmedia commentator, said, “Professionally, I’m thinking it may be good for one’s career and business to be off social media altogether.” Hm. There’s a thought, but is it realistic?]

Us First Then Them

Here’s the point I want to drive home. If we expect our athletes to use social media in a positive way WE need to be the example. Our own social media presence needs to be positive/support/constructive.

After that, being a good example is not enough. We, Coach, must expect our athletes to do the same.

We have to show them how to do it, and keep them accountable.

We have to bring them along with us. That’s what leaders do, and coaches are leaders.

We must show the example then hold other’s accountable to be at the same level as us.

Actions To Take

I am by no means an expert in this field, but I can tell you the following 10 ideas seem to make sense:

  1. Have the wisest person on the topic possible come talk to your team about social media safety and positive-use. Have them read this by Jim Seip (you should too).
  2. In the preseason, have a heart-to-heart with your team about their social media presence and your concerns. I’m sure there will be eye-rolling. Ignore it — some of your worries might sink in.
  3. Create and have members (all – including coaches) sign a “positive social media” pledge.
  4. Your institution/organization can get a subscription to a social media tracking service to check what’s going on. We don’t do this but there has been talk about it.
  5. Establish a team culture of “positive first – negative not.”
  6. Have simple and enforceable rules, if the culture is damaged by an athlete on social media.
  7. If athletes are negative/derogatory/damaging on social media it doesn’t mean they are the same in other areas of their life. It’s not just MEAN people who are MEAN on social media.
  8. Inform athletes of the laws per social media. In Maryland we have Grace’s Law. There may be similar laws in your neck of the woods.
  9. Don’t accept unacceptable digital behavior. Would you accept someone shouting at you from a speeding car that, “I quit!” No, you wouldn’t. So don’t accept it from an email message. Have the athlete come to the office and have that conversation in person.
  10. I grew up when rock-n-roll was just exploding, and it freaked out most parents. But it turned out okay, because many people kept repeating, “and this too shall pass.”

You can find more ideas here at viaSport British Columbia.

The digital impact as a result of social media will Ping-Pong from positive-to-negative-and-back. Our role as coaches is to help the impact stay on the positive side of the table.

— — —

What did you think as you were reading this? Is this an issue for you.

-Mike

8 Ways To Keep Your Energy Up During The DayMonday, February 15th, 2016

by Mandy Green, CoachingProductivityStrategies 

As coaches, we are paid to produce results with our teams.  

To get the results we seek, we need to be prepared to perform as a coach at our best all day long.  To perform at our creative and confident best, our best influence, our best strength, our best persuasion, our best judgment and decision making ability, we have to be at our optimum energy.  Your coaching and recruiting performance throughout each day and week and ultimately being able to accomplish your big goals for the year personally, with recruiting, and with your team will be predicated upon how you better manage your energy during the day.

Here are 8 ideas for you that when you implement them, should help you to keep your energy up during the day.  

Take mini-breaks

Sitting at your computer for long periods of time will lead to sleepiness and sluggishness, so get up every 60-90 minutes to refresh and recharge.  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 legs and back, or walk around and talk to your coaching colleagues…just do something that will take your mind off of the work that you were doing.  You will be amazed at how much more energy and focus you will have, especially at the end of the day, just by taking a few short mini-breaks throughout the day.  

Listen to tunes while you work.

There has been a lot of research done on how our brain’s pleasure centers light up when we hear music. Throwing on the headphones and listening to any music you like while working can give you a productivity boost.

Take deep cleansing breaths.

Take a deep breath through your nose, hold it, and let it out slowly and forcefully. Repeat several times. This will take 30 seconds and will be an instant fix. When you sit back down, you’ll have the clear head and fresh feeling needed to power through the task in front of you.

Go for a walk outside

Another great way to rejuvenate and be prepared to attack the rest of the day after lunch is to take a lunchtime stroll. A brisk walk outside will break up your day, get your blood pumping, and refresh your mind.  This walk will help to clear your mind of clutter and distractions from earlier in the day and should recharge you for an even more productive second half of the day.

Workout

You should also make time to visit a gym daily for a more robust exercise regimen that will not only keep you energized throughout the day, but it will help build your stamina and patience, and alleviate any stress you may be under.

Nap

But do it in your chair. Don’t lie down on the sofa or you won’t get back up. Keep it short: 5-10 minutes max. Any longer and it will have the opposite effect of knocking you out for the rest of the day.

Drink lots of water during the day

I read somewhere that Dehydration is the number one performance killer for athletes.  It is a sinister cause of fatigue because it slowly creeps up on you. If you consistently drink less than 8 cups of water a day, you may be sluggish all the time. Get a 32 oz (1 quart, 4 cups) water bottle.  Your goal is to polish off 2 of those a day. Try it for a week and see if your general energy level increases.

Snack throughout the day.

By eating smaller but more frequent “meals”, you will maintain a steady dose of energy throughout the day.  Remember, mood and energy follow blood sugar, so stay away from the sweets. Candy and sweets will give you a short 30 minute burst, but it’ll be quickly followed by a debilitating crash and will rob your vital energy so instead try: nuts and seeds, non-fat yogurt, dried fruit, eggs, nut butter on a cracker, or strips of cold turkey, chicken, and beef.

Every 90 days go on vacation  

438 million is the amount of vacation days Americans failed to use according to Harris interactive research group.  As a result, America ranks #1 in depression, mental health problems, we are experiencing burnout, reduced productivity, decreased creativity, failed relationships, stress or stress related ailments including depression, heart disease, or stomach ulcers at record levels.  

To get our athletes to reach their potential, we need to have and maintain high levels of energy though out the day.  If you are struggling to keep up with the day to day activities, Coach, take more control of the amount of energy you have and how you’re stewarding it.  These 8 ideas are not the only things you can do.  If you want more energy tips or other collegiate productivity advice, visit my website at www.mandygreencps.com and opt in to receive my weekly newsletter.  

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