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Why You Need a College Coach Support SystemSaturday, June 30th, 2018

by Mike Davenport, Coaching Sports Today

No coach is an island, and if you think you are…you’re doomed…

I’d been at the party for what seemed like a lifetime.

It was one of THOSE parties.

Y’know the ones, where your buddy invites you, you don’t want to go, yet you really need to go. So you go.

I went. And I stood. In the corner. By myself

And in 45 minutes only one person talked to me. He wanted me to move so he could grab a beer in the fridge. I did and then he didn’t offer me one.

Sigh.

But I didn’t care about the beer, not really. It was the isolation of coaching I felt. Saw. Tasted.

Half the party was coaches from the University I was just hired at. The other half were, well … civilians.

The coaches only hung out with coaches. They didn’t really interact with the others. In fact, they treated the non-coaches as aliens.

I asked my buddy why. His response, “Yeah, why would we talk to them?”

And that right there is a major downfall for many a coach.

Get Off Your Stupid Island

Why would you restrict yourself to only coaches in your life? Why stick yourself on a deserted island?

Is it because coaches are smarter, richer, better looking than others?  Doubtful.

Restricting yourself to only people like yourself is called social grouping, and  is something that all people do, not just coaches. And it happens because of things like:

  • convenience
  • speaking the same language
  • “They KNOW what I am going through”

Those reasons are exactly why you should NOT isolate yourself to coaches only.

If you do, you’ll be missing out on a rock-solid method to extend your coaching longevity, improve your legacy, and enjoy coaching to a much greater degree.

You Need Non-Coaches In Your Life

Why?

There’s a significant pile of research that indicates a diverse and vibrant (two awesome words) supportive social network is critical if you work in a human services profession, and coaching sports is a human services profession.

A supportive social network (which I’m going to tweak the name to coach support system) can do many good things for you, including helping you stay healthier and saner.

How?

I can quickly come up with four ways.

A) A place to vent. It’s great to be able to express to others the crap happening in your coaching world. Misery DOES love company. That’s why bartenders and hairdressers stay in business, and get tipped. (You tip them, right?) And venting can be a great way to let the steam out of the pressure cooker before it goes nuclear.

B) Finding balance. Knowing that the guy you are talking with, who is a mechanic, has problems with his customers that sounds just like the issues you have with your athletes and parents may, on face value, sound worthless. Dig a little deeper. His customers want the same thing your athletes, or parents, or boss(ess) want. Bang for their buck. (Hey, even if you are a volunteer coach, money is passing hands somewhere. Count on it. COUNT ON IT.) It’s how the World works. Knowing that could give you balance. It helps me, knowing my sport World is not the only crazy World out there.

c) Ah…a solution. How said mechanic (above) solves his customer problems might give you ideas of how to take care of your said athlete/boss/parent problem. Listen to his solution. (Word of caution — if he espouses using his blow torch to solve problems, ignore that part.) Can you adapt his solution to your problem?

D) Be distracted. A quick way to forget about your two-point loss, even for 60 seconds is when your friend tells you how she made an error that cost her law firm partners $3 million. Or how she made her partners $6 million.

Stop Being “Too Busy” And Build Your Coach Support System

Three quick things you can do to de-islandize yourself:

1) Find freaks. Look around you for those who are different, weird, zipping around you at the speed of thought. In other word FREAKS. Freaks (I am a proud card carrying member of this group) see the World, hear, think, listen, differently. Tom Peters suggests taking a freak to lunch each week. Why not? Watch the movie “The Internship” for your answer. Spoiler alert, the biggest FREAK saves the day for the two heroes.

2) Connect with your friends who are not in coaching. Find one or two you relate to, and GO relate to them. Get off your coaching butt and do it. Try one friend a week. A one minute phone call is a great way to start. Build a core of buddies. And cultivate it. And grow it. And lean on it when the time is appropriate.

3) Track your social interactions. Send yourself an email, right now, with how many social interactions with non-coaches you had today. Keep the email, and next Monday find the email and respond to yourself with how many interactions you had that day. Do for one month. If you don’t see an improvement you are NOT trying hard enough, or you are a hopeless case. I don’t believe you are hopeless, so try harder.

Pixels And Your Face

Yeah, there’s this thing called Facebook. And texting, email and YouTube. But they, combined, don’t work nearly as well as having your beautiful coaching-face in front of a real human being.

There’s a lot of research that supports that, but forget the research—it just plain common sense.

Too busy to create your coach support system—get off Facebook for 15 minutes.

Too tired? Go to bed 15 minutes earlier, turn off the TV, or don’t watch it at all.

Too grumpy? That’s exactly WHY you need a coach support system.

Hey, here’s the kicker … if you coach, you are in the PEOPLE BUSINESS. So, put other people in your life to make yours better (and maybe improve their life while you are at it).

You are worth this, so are they.

PS: Hey, how about sharing this post with a fellow coach who might need it? It could be a good starting place to help a peer (or yourself) get that coach support system up and running.

Two More Things I Need to Tell YouTuesday, June 26th, 2018

By Jeremy Tiers, Director of Admissions Services 

 

Happy Tuesday. It’s crazy to think we’re in the final days of June already!

Last week my article focused on the first communication piece that you send to prospective students…what kind, who should it come from, etc. If you missed it, click this link and get caught up, because quite honestly it might be the most important article I write this summer. Plus, it ties in with what I’m going to share with you today.

Remember, the first thing you need to focus on as you start to reach out to this next class of students is, how are you going to get their attention? Then, once you have their attention, how are you going to get them to consistently engage with you?

In addition to employing the strategy I outlined last week, here are two more communication tips that will help you increase your early response rates.

  1. Don’t give them everything all at once. When a topic is completely defined right away for the reader, many don’t see any reason to engage with the sender. So, instead of telling them everything all at once, (which usually results in a message that’s way too long) I want you to create a little mystery in your messaging. Hold back a little. Don’t tell them everything in one letter, a single email, or even during a phone call about why your school’s location is unbeatable, or how your academic/learning environment is different than your competitors. Instead, hint at things to come in the future that you want to talk with them about. You’ll create curiosity, and you’ll give them a reason to engage with you the next time you reach out. And believe it or not, over time, that approach will actually result in some of your prospects reaching out to you on their own for more information.
  2. Ask them for their opinion on something. I alluded to this in last week’s article when I talked about your call to action. Instead of pushing them to visit or apply right out of the gate, ask a specific question that asks for their opinion on something. I want you to do that so that your prospect understands you’re actually talking with them, not just at them. It makes a big difference! You’re personalizing the process and making it clear that their opinion is important to you. Furthermore, the information you get back from them can help you in future conversations.

Got a question about this? Something else I can help you with? Reply back and ask away. Or if you happen to be reading this article on our website or because someone forwarded it to you, you can email me: jeremy@dantudor.com

The Price We Pay as a Coach: Is It Too Much?Monday, June 25th, 2018

by Mike Davenport, Coaching Sports Today

I’ve always been intrigue by the things we do when we coach. And also by the wealth of things a coach is NOT doing when coaching. For example,
when in the act of coaching, the coach is:

  • NOT spending time with the family
  • NOT working out
  • NOT doing the laundry, checking the car oil, doing other household chores
  • NOT doing the other job. NOT throwing the ball for the dog. NOT petting the cat

“Sure, I am busy. I’m focusing. I’m working.”

Yep, you busy coaching. But the sneaky thing about coaching, is that coaches often pay a little heavier price for what they have chosen to do.

The Simple Buckets of Life

Let’s go simple. Imagine you have buckets in your life…

As soon as you wake up you start dipping stuff from a bucket.

  • You make breakfast, you take from your food bucket.
  • Put gas in the car, draw from the money bucket.
  • Stop for two donuts, dip from the health bucket.

I like the bucket concept because it helps explain the price we pay to coach.

When you draw from a bucket, and there is something to put back into the bucket to balance what you took out — then things are good. The withdrawal (what you took out) is balanced by a deposit (what was put back in). You take $30 out of the money bucket for gas, and on payday you put money back into the bucket.

Here’s where it often doesn’t work for coaches.

The price we pay to coach

In days-gone-by they were big buckets that an organization might have for a coach to draw from. You bought a new whistle (a money-bucket withdrawal) and it was balanced when you were reimbursed from the team’s budget (a deposit). You had an extended road trip (a family-bucket withdrawal) and then you had a few days off to recover (a deposit).

So often today, because of budget cuts, limited resources, overloaded schedules, coaches often have to use their own personal buckets. The price we pay to coach comes into play when we dip out of a bucket and there is nothing to put back in.

You drive 30 minutes to practice each day and there is NO budget to get reimbursed for mileage. The price you pay, in this case, is the cost of gas and the miles on your car.

Or you are up till 3am watching films, running practice at 7am, with 3 hours sleep, no breakfast, slurpping caffeine. You are pouring out of the health and family buckets. Can’t you just see them drying up?

Coaches are often expense-blind

Often we coaches get so engaged/stoked/mesmerized by coaching that we become expense-blind.

We get sucked in by the excitement, the giving back, the helping of those that need help that we ignore our buckets going dry. You can see that in so many coaches today.

Overweight. High-stressed. Sick, rundown, struggling. Being abused by crowds—yelled at, cursed at, physically attacked. Lonely. Moody.

They’ve paid a price to coach a sport, sometimes a heavy, very hefty price.

And then they crash when their bucket dries up.

Can you pay the price without the crash?

What can you do? If you want to stay in coaching any length of time, and I’ve written about professional sustainability before, you need to figure out your bucket-withdrawals you are paying to coach and if they are being offset by an bucket-deposits. (And I’m not just talking money here, Coach.)

That small bit of information is very powerful. It can separate you from your peers, empower your coaching, make you a much more pleasant person to be around.

Most importantly, knowing if your buckets are balanced can improve your longevity as a coach.

Here’s a plan that might help:

Step 1. Record your coaching bucket-withdrawals

Record, in any format that works for you, all of your bucket-withdrawals. Take your time, get it correct—dig deep.

Then write down your bucket-deposits—what resources you can use to put back into those buckets.

Step 2. Dig Deep

If you’re struggling to identify your withdraws just sit quietly for a few moments and flash back to things that generated stress in your coaching life. For instance, on the way home from practice were you stressed because you were missing time with your own kids?

That’s and expense. Put it down.

Dig. Dig. Dig.

Step 3. Balancing things

Look at your withdrawals. Are they balanced by deposits? If they are — great. You Coach, are doing a good job! Pat on the back for you.

But if things aren’t balanced then there is trouble looming ahead. In that case, I have two questions for you:

1) Can you increase your deposits? If not, why not? Seriously, why not? For instance, if you are missing time with your own kids is there a way for them to come with you during a practice? Just a thought.

2) Can you reduce your withdrawals? I did this a few years ago…we used to practice from 6am to 8:30am every morning. When I realized the price I was paying to do that (crushing my family) we moved practice to 4:o0 to 6:30 pm. Things became much better.

A word of caution, though, if you identify an issue, as I did with practice times, and try to make a change, be ready for resistance. When I introduced our change to practice times there was resistance to make that change, but no one could really tell me exactly why we should not change.

So you know, “That’s the way we have always done things’” is no reason to keep doing things that way. In fact, it is probably a good reason  NOT to keep things the same.

Conclusion

You pay a price to do anything. The price we pay to coach our sport sometimes can be very significant and can take a heavy toll.

When a bucket runs dry a coach can suffer.

Be thoughtful of what’s happening with your buckets and you might be able to improve your coaching experience, be a better coach, and keep coaching longer.

Want more advice and direction when it comes to thriving in your college coaching career? Visit Coaching Sports Today for more great advice on how to build a great life as a college coach.

8 Daily Energy Boosters for College CoachesMonday, June 25th, 2018

by Mandy Green, Busy Coach

As coaches, we are paid to produce results with our teams.  As we are heading into the summer, now is a great time to start trying out some of these energy boosting tips so you can come back in the fall energized, rested, and sustain high levels of energy throughout the day so you can keep bringing your best for your team.

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. The same is true for us as coaches.  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 healthy “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.

So I just gave you 8 different ideas.  Are there more out there, yes of course.  These have been the 8 that I have found to work the best for me.  If you are not doing any of these, just start by trying one of them.  Slowly one by one add in another one as you are comfortable.  If you have other ones that you have found to be a great energizer for you, please let me know at mandy@busy.coach.  I’d love to hear what they are!

Did you know Coach Green works with college athletic departments and sports programs to increase their efficiency and do more with their time? Better organization and structure is the key. If you’d like to hear how she can help you, click here.

The First Contact Piece You’re SendingTuesday, June 19th, 2018

By Jeremy Tiers, Director of Admissions Services 

 

Between starting work with new clients and being asked to audit individual letters and emails, the first contact piece is something I’ve been spending a lot of time on these past few weeks.

It’s an extremely important communication (maybe the most important one), so I thought it might be helpful to share a bunch of ideas and strategies with you today. These are things that continue to produce positive results for our clients at the beginning (i.e. they get a student’s attention, generate a response, and start the process of building a recruiting relationship).

To be clear, I’m referring to the first communication piece that your school sends a new inquiry or prospect whenever they enter your funnel. That could happen tomorrow, or it might not be until December or January.

The first thing that you and your admissions and marketing colleagues need to do is come up with an answer to the following question – “What’s the goal of our first contact piece?” I would argue, and I’ve done so many times in this newsletter, that it’s to get their attention and create engagement.

Email open rates are helpful, but an actual response rate is an even better metric to use. Engagement gives you that. It’s proof that your message was received, read (or least skimmed through), provided some amount of value or intrigue, and proof that your call to action worked.

The biggest problem I see with most first contact pieces is they look and sound just like 98% of other schools do. It’s just a different template and a different set of facts and figures topped off with a call to action that asks the student to visit campus or encourages them to call or email a general admissions phone number/email address if they have any questions. I don’t believe that’s a winning strategy in 2018.

Now let’s talk about what will work, starting with whom the communication comes from, and what kind of communication you send. The strategy we continue to use with our clients is a result of ongoing focus group surveys we conduct with the students themselves. We ask incoming or current college freshmen that just went through the college search process the following two questions:

Question 1: “When you started your college search, which person from a college would you have preferred to hear from first?”

Answer:

Admissions Counselor – 82.6%

Director of Admissions –17.4%

Context for you – Students have told us that a message from anyone in a position of leadership (especially if they’ve never met that person) is intimidating and, in their minds, a mass piece. It’s more plausible in their minds that an admissions counselor would actually take (and have) the time to reach out to them.

Question 2: “What’s the first kind of communication you think a college should use with a student at the beginning of the process?”

Answer:

Letter – 43.3%

Email – 32.6%

Phone Call – 21.3%

Text Message – 2.8%

Context for you – Students have told us that a letter is a tangible, safe interaction (especially when they don’t know the person). They also believe that a letter takes more effort than an email, and as such, they view it as a more personalized form of communication.

Let’s move on to the body of your first contact piece, which again I’m recommending should be a letter that comes from each individual admissions counselor. Here are some tips:

  • Shorter, less formal, and more conversational. The longer it is, the harder it is for the student to take it all in. And in most cases they’re not ready for tons of information yet, nor do they care about it… which causes them to stop reading before the end and increases the chances they’ll miss your call to action.
  • Forget about all the facts, figures, and history. It comes across as “selling” and studies suggest that we’re more apt to reply to something that doesn’t sound like an advertising message.
  • Instead, introduce the admissions counselor and make it clear that he/she understands the college search process is confusing, scary, etc. and that the goal is to make it easier for the student and his/her family. Establish the counselor as the go-to person.
  • Use words and a tone that creates excitement and makes it clear that the admissions counselor is looking forward to getting to know the student and hear more about what he/she is looking for in a college. You could even go so far as to tell the student he/she is a priority.

Finally, let’s discuss your call to action. I want you to avoid asking the student to visit your campus. This is something that’s really hard for a lot of schools to buy into. Let me explain the reasoning behind my statement.

If you tell a student, “I want you to come to campus,” or you ask them “When can you come to campus for a visit” in the first contact piece or during the first high school visit/college fair visit, it jumps several spaces ahead on their recruiting game board so to speak. You’re trying to skip a bunch of steps in their mind, and it just doesn’t seem right. Only bring it up once you have either a) spent two or three conversations asking them questions and getting to know them, or b) they bring it up…that would apply to their parents, as well. Push the visit too early, and, according to our research, you’ll seem disingenuous.

Instead, ask a specific question as your call to action. You could ask about their fear or their must-haves as they look at different schools. Whatever it is, it needs to be defined and not overly broad and general. Otherwise a lot of students don’t know what kind of response you’re looking for, and fear of sounding dumb will prevent many from responding at all.

Encourage them to respond back quickly with their answer. Tell them you’re excited to hear what they have to say because providing that feedback will give you a better idea of what information about your school will be useful to share with them next. In short, I want you to give them a “because”.

Follow the advice that I’ve given you today and I’m confident you’ll see increased engagement immediately with this next class of students.

And if at any point you want me to review your first contact piece and offer feedback, all you have to do is ask. It won’t cost you anything but your time. Simply email me.

Dad’s Cry, TooMonday, June 18th, 2018

by Mike Davenport, Coaching Sports Today

I cried for 20 minutes today.   

I’m a stoic-type guy. I’m used to compartmentalizing and burying my emotions. But not today. Today was different.

It was checkin-day.

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

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

But here’s the thing, I’ll miss him. Really miss him.

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

There are others—lots.

Dads And Crying

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

“It’s allergy season,” I heard one guy say today.”

Another, wiping his face, broadcasted, “Got stupid sunscreen in my eyes, again.” And that guy had been a Marine.

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

So, why should you as a coach care?

Because the person who recruited weeping-Dad’s child (male or female) might be missing an opportunity to shine.

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

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

Y’know, if a text rolled in right now, and one of my son’s new coaches said, “Hey Dad, no worries, we’ll take good care of him,” that would be nice.

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

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

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

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

And bring tissues, they will get used.

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

Want more coaching wisdom from a longtime coach and advisor? Visit his website, Coaching Sports Today, for career building advice and winning coach philosophies that will enrich your college coaching career.

6 Morning Routines for Championship CoachesMonday, June 18th, 2018

by Mandy Green, Busy Coach

As a coach, you’re no stranger to the 12-hour workdays. You stay at the office until 9 or 10 p.m. — or until you just can’t read another email or make another recruiting phone call– before you force yourself to go home for a hasty dinner, a little more work and a few hours of shut-eye. The next day, you get up and do it all over again.

That was my life for about 11 years. One day bled into the next until I finally decided I needed some balance. I wanted to make an impact with my team and have time for a fulfilling family life outside of work.

To transform my workday, there are a lot of things I have been doing during the day when I am at work.  I decided it was time to take it a step further by taking more control of my mornings. I have done a lot of research about this and my best sources are The Miracle Morning by Hal Elrod and Mel Robbins, Author of The 5 Second Rule.

I have already noticed A LOT of very positive effects from intentionally switching up my mornings.  This 60-90 minutes I am not focusing on myself in the morning has also helped me have more meaningful, successful and productive days.

Here are seven steps to revolutionizing your workday so you can accomplish more:

1. Wake up earlier.

An early-morning routine is powerful because it allows you to take time for yourself. In the early hours, it’s quiet, and there are fewer people vying for your attention. Many successful CEOs, including the former CEO of PepsiCo, begin their workday before 6 a.m., and if you can fill those hours with something meaningful, it will set the right tone for your day.

2. No email or even looking at your phone for at least the first hour of your day.

When you grab your phone first thing in the morning to check messages, your mind can’t help but shift into reaction mode. When you constantly check your phone, it can lead to increased stress, because you feel an immediate need to respond to demands. Before you know it, you’ve lost control of your day. Instead of letting others dictate your priorities, give yourself at least an hour to focus without external distractions. 

3. Express gratitude

Gratitude is a powerful way to put things into perspective. By acknowledging the things that are working in your favor, the one thing that isn’t won’t seem as problematic. As soon as you wake up, say three things you’re grateful for to start your day with positive energy.    

4.  Rewrite your goals every morning.

You already know the importance of setting goals. The problem is that a lot of people just write their goals down once and then forget it.  I suggest writing down your goals every morning to help ensure they don’t fall by the wayside.  If they are out of site, they are out of mind.  Revisit them every day and you are more likely to find time to work on them. 

5. Nourish your body.

Just as your mental state in the morning sets the tone for the rest of your day, what you eat for breakfast helps determine what you’ll eat throughout the day. If you begin with a healthy breakfast, you’re more likely to continue that trend. Remember: Your health and energy is everything. It deserves more attention than those emails.

6. Get moving.

A good morning workout is invigorating, especially if you have great music or a motivational podcast that gets you fired up. I start my mornings with a quick 10-15 minute workout and then some stretching — but running, yoga, weight training or even a brisk walk can be good for your health and make you more productive.

If you’re already stretched thin, you’re probably thinking that you don’t have that much time to devote to yourself first thing in the morning. But the ROI is too great to ignore. When you’re happy, energetic and focused, it does wonders for your productivity as a coach. Take it from me. 60-90 minutes for yourself first thing in the morning is just what you need to take your team and program to the next level.

Yes, You Can Learn From Howard SternTuesday, June 12th, 2018

By Jeremy Tiers, Director of Admissions Services 

 

No, that’s not a misprint. There are actually a number of things that you can learn from Howard Stern that will make you a better recruiter and/or a better leader.

The shock jock, as he’s known to many, has amassed tens of millions of listeners on Sirius XM satellite radio and has been deemed by some the most powerful interviewer in American broadcasting. Billy Joel even called his interview with Stern “probably the most astute and insightful interview” he’d done.

I listen to the Stern show a lot when I travel, and if you’ve never heard Howard interview a guest on his show, you don’t know what you’re missing. Pick your favorite celebrity or music star and type their name along with Howard’s into Google when you have a few extra minutes. Chances are he’s interviewed them at some point. His recent interviews with James Corden and Cardi B are particularly insightful and worth the listen.

Over the years I’ve noticed a few things that Howard does consistently during his interviews, each of which I want to talk with you about today. These are techniques that I would recommend you consider implementing (if you’re not already) during your conversations with prospective students and parents.

  • Eliminate any fear at the beginning. Howard starts off a lot of his interviews with small talk and a compliment for his guest. It’s low pressure and makes the other person immediately feel safe and comfortable. Similarly, when you talk with students, don’t immediately bombard them with all kinds of questions and a push to visit campus or complete your application. Worry more about putting them at ease and eliminating any fears they might have.
  • It’s not an interview it’s a conversation. If you remember one thing from today’s article I hope it’s this point. Don’t approach your conversations with students (at college fairs, school visits, campus visit events, etc) like it’s an interview. The goal as I’ve stated in numerous articles before is to get and keep their attention…to make a connection and have future conversations. Many of Stern’s guests rave about how fun and memorable their interviews with him were. Many have been back multiple times over the years. Would your students say the same thing about the phone calls and contacts they have with you? You’ll discover the answer when you try and connect a second time. Make your conversation more casual, and make it about them. Do that, and you’ll gain all kinds of valuable information and insights from the student or their parent.
  • Don’t interrupt. Just like it probably drives you nuts when other people don’t let you finish your thoughts and sentences, the same thing holds true for the students that you’re recruiting. I know it can be tempting to get so excited about something that you jump in and cut them off. Don’t do it. Stern always lets his guests finish telling a story or answering a question to the point where there’s often a second or two of dead air.
  • Have a list of effective questions and follow-up questions. Stern has become a master at asking specific questions that get his guests to talk more openly and freely about themselves than they typically do in public. His questions don’t just lead to answers, they lead to stories. It doesn’t take him long (and it won’t take you long either) to discover what motivates the other person or why something is or isn’t important in their mind. Howard also does a great job of latching on to a guest’s answers and digging deeper with follow up questions like “What’s going on there,” or “Help me understand that.” Context matters.
  • Don’t be afraid to go in a different direction midstream. Any time you ask a prospect or their parents a question that then leads to unexpected points of interest, don’t be afraid to change the direction of the conversation. At the same time be mindful of those tough subjects where digging too deep isn’t worth the risk.
  • Don’t be afraid to poke fun at yourself (or address your school’s negatives). Howard pokes fun at himself all the time. It makes him more genuine, and it reminds his guests that he’s human and makes mistakes just like them. Don’t be afraid to share a funny story about something silly or unintelligent that you’ve done. And don’t be afraid to address your school’s negatives either, whatever they may be. Every college has something. That transparency will separate you from your competitors who only talk about the positives. This generation of students (and their parents) is looking for colleges that are demonstrating honesty during the recruitment process.

Some or all of these six bullet points may have simply been timely reminders for you today. That’s great! For everyone else, I encourage you to take one or more of them and consider how it or they can help you become a better recruiter.

Lastly, at the beginning of this article I mentioned leadership. All six of these points are applicable to you if you directly manage others in your office. Leadership isn’t just about giving direction. It’s about getting to know every single person you manage (their motivations, wants, needs, and fears) and figuring out what each of them needs from you so that they can achieve their own personal goals and the goals that you’ve set for them.

I hope you have an amazing day and week!

As always, reach out and connect with me on email, phone, or text if I can help you with something.

Are You Good Enough to Coach Your Sport?Monday, June 11th, 2018

by Dr. Mike Davenport, Coaching Sports Today

We coaches may look composed and tough on the outside, but on the inside we often have the same fears and worries that typical folks have.

I know from my own experiences, and a survey I did of recently hired coaches, that one of those worries is, “Am I good enough to coach my sport?”

I call this one of the “3 am wake-up worries” that coaches suffer. (You can probably guess where that name came from.)

So are you? Are you good enough to coach your sport?

Let’s find out.

Balancing act

A critical step to finding out if, in fact, you are good enough to coach your sport is to balance two items. Those are (a) the talents-skills you possess, and (b) the coaching outcomes your program/organization/school requires of you.

You see, if we set up a simple little teeter-totter like this one . . .

with the two items on either end, we can get an understanding if we are good enough. So, if your talent-skills basket outweighs your outcomes basket, then there’s a solid chance you are good enough. On the other hand, if your outcomes basket is heavier, chances are you aren’t good enough.

Harsh, harsh, harsh, but probably true.

Let’s drill down further…

What talent-skills do you have?

I’m going to recommend two steps. First, grab a piece of paper or a computer page and list your talents and skills. Sounds simple, and it’s a good place to start.

Yet as social psychologist David Dunning writes “people overestimate themselves.” And we certainly do.

It’s called illusory superiority, and it’s human nature—meaning everyone does it Coach, not just us. It’s just something we have to deal with, and the next step can help.

Now, take your list and let’s get feedback.

Give your list to someone. Not just anyone, but a person who

  1. knows you
  2. knows coaching
  3. who you can trust to give you honest feedback

Does she/he agree with what you’ve written? Now have that person ask you questions such as:

  • Are you a good communicator?
  • Do you have basic, intermediate, or advanced knowledge of your sport?
  • Do you know the sport’s rules?
  • Can you recruit?

As you respond to the questions watch his/her eyes.

If he asks you, “Are you good with people?” And you respond, “I certainly am” and his eyes grow wide in amazement…well…you’re getting feedback that you probably aren’t as good with people as you think you are.

Take that list, and keep it safe.

What coaching outcomes are required of you?

Now the hard part…

After you’ve gone through your interrogation it’s time to determine what outcomes are expected of you.

I did this when I was applying for my head coach job at Washington College. I asked the Athletic Director point blank, “What outcomes does the school want from me?”

Nothing shocking came out of that conversation, but the answers were critical in me taking the job, and I’m sure the question helped them see me as a serious candidate who may be after more than just a coaching-gig.

So go to your immediate supervisor and ask the question. Don’t make assumptions here. Ask the question. You need to know the answer.

Compare

Distill the information you’ve just gathered.

  • Make two columns on a piece of paper/computer page with talents-skills on one side and outcomes on the other
  • Fill in what you know under each column
  • Analyze

Are you talent-skills lacking? Start a plan of self-improvement.

Are the outcomes required well below your talent-skills? Chances are you are going to get bored.

This is a simple exercise, but one that could be important to your coaching success, and your coaching longevity.

Give it a try.

Dr. Mike Davenport is a former college coach and current consultant who works with coaches to improve their recruiting, and their college coaching career. Visit his library of articles and advice at CoachingSportsToday.com, or email him at mike@dantudor.com.

80/20 Your Way to More Coaching Success This YearMonday, June 11th, 2018

by Mandy Green, Busy Coach

The Pareto principle states that 20% of a person’s effort generates 80% of the person’s results. The corollary to this is that 20% of one’s results absorb 80% of one’s resources or efforts. For the effective use of resources, the coach’s challenge is to distinguish the right 20% from the trivial many.

Identify the high-payoff activities within your program.  High-payoff activities are the things you do that bring the greatest value to your program, team, or staff.  They are the three to five activities that lie in your “sweet spot.”  You do them with excellence.  These activities could be building relationships with recruits, making phone calls to parents, sending emails to recruits, managing your current team, etc.  They are your unique discipline or distinctive skills and abilities that distinguish you from other staff members. 

Being able to prioritize your personnel, time, and energy will allow you the freedom to produce more efficient results. 

Here are a few exercises taken from John Maxwell’s book Developing the Leader within You that should get you started:

Task Priorities

Determine what 20% of the work gives 80% of the return. These activities could be building relationships with recruits, making phone calls to parents, sending emails to recruits, managing your current team, etc.  They are your unique discipline or distinctive skills and abilities that distinguish you from other staff members. 

Make a list of the tasks that you are working on today, this week, and in the near future. 

Place each task next to the appropriate category below.

  • List of things to do now (High Importance/High Urgency). Tackle these tasks first;
  • List of things to do (High Importance/Low Urgency). Set deadlines for completion and get these tasks worked into your daily routine
  • List of things to delegate (Low Importance/High Urgency). Find quick, efficient ways to get this work done without much personal involvement.  Delegate it.
  • Low Importance/Low Urgency: Busy or repetitious work.  Delegate it. 

Staff/Team Oversight and Leadership Development

  • Determine which people are the top 20% producers.  Start by making a list of everyone on your team.
  • For each individual, ask yourself, ”if this person takes a negative action against me or withdraws his or her support from me, how big will the impact be?”
  • If their absence would hinder your ability to function, put a check mark next to that name.
  • When you finish making the check marks, you will have marked between 15 and 20 percent of the names.  These are the vital relationships that need to be developed and given the proper amount of resources to grow your program.
  • Meet one-on-one with the people you checked above. 
  • Spend 80 percent of your “people time” with the top 20%
  • Spend 80 percent of your personal development dollars on the 20%

Sit down and spend the time to find out how this principle applies within almost every aspect of your program, and you have the power to set the vital priorities which will mean the difference between failure, survival, and success. This principle will save you time, effort, money and resources, and take you further down the road to success.

Knowing what your high-payoff activities are and actually doing them, however, are two very different things.  Many surveys that I have read over the past several years have shown that the average American worker spends only 50-60 percent of the workday on activities specified in her or her job description.  That means that workers waste 40-50 percent of their time on low-payoff activities, tackling things that others with less skill or training should be doing.  Are you in this category coach?

By disciplining yourself to clearly identify your high-payoff activities, and then by filling your calendar with those things and appropriately delegating, delaying, or dropping the low-payoff activities, you can and will get more productive things done everyday, reduce your stress, and increase your happiness.   

The more time you spend doing the high-payoff activities, the more value you will bring to your team, program, and staff.  By disciplining yourself to clearly identify your high-payoff activities, and then by filling your calendar with those things and appropriately delegating, delaying, or dropping the low-payoff activities, you can and will get more high-payoff activities done everyday, reduce your stress, and increase your happiness.    

Homework-Time tracking on an Activity Log.  Do a Realistic Time Audit

Time management experts stress that before you can make needed changes in the way you manage time, you need to look at how you spend your time now. What activities or tasks are taking up the biggest chunks of your life? What items do you hate or put off most? Are you allowing others to dictate uses for your time that aren’t productive or don’t fit your agenda?

By doing a brutally honest assessment, you can begin to change the way you manage yourself in relation to time.

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