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Steps To Be a More Authentic LeaderMonday, January 9th, 2017

Erika_HeadShotErika Brennan, University of Southern Mississippi

Head Coach Women’s Golf

An eight year coaching veteran, Erika is committed to helping you discover your personal brilliance so that you can lead beyond the realm of sport.  With a no nonsense yet decidedly casual tone to her writing, Erika is helping coaches and student-athletes lead their most authentic life.  Join her at erikabrennan.com then participate in the conversation on social media using #BrilliantBeyondSport

This world of ours is full of noise.  We exist in an almost constant state of overwhelm from the various inputs coming at us – some by choice and others forced upon us – like the 24-hour news cycle of impending doom.  It’s like everybody and everything is pushing in on us – burrowing deep enough – and steering us to act, speak, and conduct ourselves in accordance with what will garner the most “likes” “favorites” “retweets” and “comments.”  I fall prey to this – guilty as charged!  And the more I think about it, it’s a really REALLY sad way to live.  The world will benefit from us being more authentic as leaders. In this article we will explore the incredibly liberating action of being authentic.

When I was in middle school, I was a tom-boy.  Ok, who am I kidding?  I still am.  But back in middle school I tried so hard to be somebody I wasn’t.  I bought and carried a purse (why?  I already had a backpack)!  I tried to wear my hair down and keep it down longer than the closing bell of my first class.  I even went as far as to include “like” “as if” and “whatever” into my vernacular even though I thought it was ridiculous.  Do you think I was being authentic? C’mon – I’m not the only one who has tried and failed miserably to fit in to a stereotype – especially as a teenager – we’ve all been there, right?

It cracks me up looking back on it now, but at the time I so desperately wanted to disappear in to the safe majority.  Now, in to my early thirties, I can proudly proclaim that I’m a “preppy redneck” and that I am completely aware of who I am – and more importantly – who I ain’t.  (Yes, ain’t is a word – see previous “redneck” descriptor).

So how do we close the gap in the journey to authenticity?  It’s easy in theory and difficult in application – but let’s dive in to some ways to move away from the need to please (whatever “pleasing” means) and into a space that feels a bit more like “home” even when we are far from it.

Go Back In Time: 

Think back to your youth – go far enough to the precious time before we were aware of others perceptions of us.  Who were you then?  How did you act?  What excited you as a kid? Were you pragmatic? eccentric? driven? free-spirited?  This will shed incredible insight and point you in the right direction on your journey to becoming more authentic.

Ask “Who Am I?” When I’m At My Most Authentic:

Write down your answers.  In fact, make a long list of answers.  Now, go back and cross through anything that merely describes what you do.  Contrary to the prevailing notion (which is precisely what we’re challenging here) YOU are NOT what you do.  You are the summation of the things that you believe in.  You are the things you think about in those rare quiet moments.

Cultivate Your Inner-Voice:

Armed with your childhood memories and your short-list of answers to the “Who Am I” question – begin to build your inner-voice to align more consistently with the answers you’ve just discovered.  When doubt (read:  The world) creeps in, acknowledge it, and push it away.  You need to become your own biggest advocate in the quest to be your most authentically brilliant self.

Invite Your Tribe In:

Finally, let the folks in your tribe in on the journey.  Ask them to answer this question: “When do you think I’m at my best?”  Follow it up with “How do you view me when I’m in my element?”  Check to see if their answers are consistent with your inner-voice and adjust accordingly!  Disclaimer:  While we’ve heard that “Perception is Reality,” do not allow their thoughts to overshadow the hard work you’ve just done if their opinions are different than yours.  You are the captain of your destiny when it comes to authenticity – and only you can truly know if you’re making progress.  But they are your tribe – so they do know you pretty well.  Use their feedback as a tool.

Step Away From The Noise:

This is the hardest step of all – but they say the greatest growth occurs at the end of our comfort zone.  Get away from all of that noise!  The more time you spend with yourself the more authentic you’ll be.  I’m not talking about physically being alone necessarily, but setting time aside for your own growth is so important. Oh, and do yourself a huge favor – Put. The. Phone. Down. Real-life is not happening on iOS and the authentic moments are passing you by as you stare endlessly at that little screen.  Back away slowly!

Cut Yourself Some Slack:

Know that you are capable of change and that you will evolve and refine your beliefs over time.  This means you get to cut yourself some slack and know that who you were a year ago isn’t who you may be tomorrow.  You’re allowed to be moldable and fluid like that – that’s the fun part!  Allow yourself some grace in the process and enjoy the journey.

So now I gotta know: Who are you when nobody is around or watching?  How would you describe the most authentic version of yourself?

Jonas, The Blizzard, And Coach ManeuversMonday, January 25th, 2016

by Mike Davenport, CoachingSportsToady.com

Jerry Rice, retired wide receiver of the San Francisco 49ers, is the leading points scorer in the NFL. It may surprise you to know that few NFL coaches wanted him on their team.

Except for one coach — Bill Walsh.

Rice wasn’t the fastest, the tallest or the strongest of college receivers. But Walsh drafted Rice nonetheless, few other teams were interested in him. That risk on Rice paid off with:

  • 3 Super Bowl wins
  • 13 Pro Bowl selections
  • Over 100 NFL records
  • Rice’s selection as NFL greatest player ever

The reported reason Walsh picked Rice — because of his maneuverability.

Maneuverability, the ability to change speed, direction, even reverse course with little negative impact, is what Jerry Rice did exceptional well.

Let me ask you, do you maneuver well while you coach?

Hard Right Turn

Why would a coach ever want to change speed, direction, or even put it in reverse? Aw heck, I can think of dozens of reasons, a few being:

a significant change in weather (more about that in a moment)

illness or injury that requires line up changes

policy changes

sudden unfair conditions

a “gut instinct” you have and feel compelled to act on

There’s many more, but let me give you an example. On Sunday our student-athletes were scheduled to return to campus from winter break. On Monday the coaches were committed to a day of work in our boathouse on equipment. On Tuesday, voluntary workouts were scheduled to start for the athletes.

Before any of these plans happened, a blizzard named “Jonas” rolled in. I had to maneuver.

School was postponed until Wednesday so all those plans changed. I had to arrange alternate workout schedules, find a different time to get the equipment work done, and be ready for student-athletes who might not be able to return for many days (or a week) because of rescheduling cancelled flights.

Here’s another coaching example making national news … two sports teams were stranded on the Pennsylvania Turnpike, due to the storm. The women’s gymnastics team from Temple and the men’s basketball team from Duquesne spent days in their buses, along with hundreds of other travelers. I’m sure the coaches aboard were wishing they could have maneuvered a different way home.

Actions To Contemplate

Here’s the point I’m trying to communicate:

  • often our plans are good
  • usually we know the best
  • mostly our way will work

But not always, so that means there will be times when:

  • another plan is needed
  • we need more info
  • a different approach is needed

The coach who is ready and willing to accept and maneuver in those times of change will find greater success, and peace of mind.

The key to successful maneuvering is limiting the negative impact when you need to do it. You can help this happen by taking 3 simple actions:

1. Communicate clearly – let them know a change is happening
2. Keep cool and calm – be the eye in the storm
3. Be empathetic – know that change is hard for others

That’s what Jerry Rice did. What I tried to do in response to the storm.

Where do you, and can you, maneuver in your coaching?

— — —

Did you know 73% of coaches are focusing on getting better in 2016, and 50% of coaches know that “why they coach” is to improve others? That’s what coaches told me in my recent 5-minute coaches survey (which you can take here, if you haven’t yet). And one reason why I wrote the e-book Build Your Team: How To Create, Lead & Protect The Sports Team Of Your Dreams due out next month.

It’s also why coach Mike Hughes and I are making recordings like this.

Make a ruckus and coach well. We need ya!

-Mike

How A Pre-Mortem Can Save Your Coaching BaconMonday, January 18th, 2016

by Mike Davenport, CoachingSportsToday.com

I worry a lot.

During the season I can’t tell you how many 3:37 am worry sessions I have. Just me and my pillow trying to figure things out. For me, it’s one of the least enjoyable parts of coaching.

I’m not the only coach this happens to. I once heard football coach Lou Holtz say during season he slept like a baby — waking up every two hours, crying.

Rattling around the Internet yesterday I found a technique that might help with this Coach-Sleep. It’s called a pre-mortem.

In the medical world, a post-mortem is used to examine a negative medical outcome (someone died, spread of disease, botched treatments and the such). If you watch any doctor-type shows you’ve probably seen one done. The business and academic world does something similar — calling them things like exit interviews, satisfaction surveys, or wrap-ups. Regardless of the name, they are trying to discover what went wrong, and how to avoid the issue in the future.

Pre-mortem’s are different

A pre-mortem is doing a post-mortem BEFORE an event. A term coined by Gary Klein inSources of Power: How People Make Decisions, pre-mortems are about envisioning what COULD happen (instead of what DID happen); and then visualizing what action could be/should be taken.

Have you ever said, “Hey, what happened?” “Whoa … I never expected that!” “Jeez, they can’t do that. It’s not fair.” If so, a pre-mortem should be in your tool box.

Rarely Used By Coaches

Coaches rarely use pre-mortem because we:

  • have visualized a specific outcome, and can’t see things differently
  • don’t want to be distracted, and vary from THE PLAN
  • are superstitious, and know thinking about bad stuff will make it happen
  • have so little time, we can barely get our teeth brushed

Here’s the truth — your plan and the outcome rarely resemble each other. When you consider all the moving parts in sports — the promises that get broken, the rules that change, the differences in human nature — why the heck should the plan and outcome look the same?

They shouldn’t. And they don’t.

To reduce the number and size of the surprises you get, you need to be prepared — and a pre-mortem can help.

Yes, pre-mortems are mostly focused on worst-case scenarios, but we should add a variation to that. My pre-mortem, and your pre-mortem, should focus on the worst- case AND the best-case scenarios. For example,

  • What if we win the championship?
  • What if our next recruiting class if the biggest one ever?
  • What if they decide to double my salary?
  • What if we are asked to go to the White House?

To be clear, this is different than daydreaming. Building fantastical things up in your imagination is daydreaming. Pre-mortem is about things that really could happen.

Action You Can (And Should) Take

I can understand being resistant to trying this because of time or superstition. Fine. Go about your business then. But I think you’ll be missing out on an important tool to have.

For you that want to try a pre-mortem, here are some suggested action steps.

  1. Set aside non-emotional time.
  2. Have as many opinion people there as needed. Get your team together and pretend a blessing/disaster has struck.
  3. Have everyone write down 5-10 blessings/disasters. Go around to everyone (and yes, you might be the only one there). Pick the top several ones.
  4. Looking at that list, what action could you take to improve the chance of the blessing occurring, or reduce the instance of the disaster. Create solutions, with detailed actions, for future efforts.
  5. Record the discussion (whiteboard with photos taken, notes on paper disseminated later)
  6. Pass the information along to those who need it.

Granted, this isn’t rocket-live-brain-TV-science-surgery. It’s more like common sense, that’s not so common. Worth a try, I think. Here’s a really simple pre-mortem example:

  • We had a big recruiting event this Fall.
  • I wrote out a list of possible blessings (having more than our max numbers visit) and our disasters (a recruit getting sick during the visit).
  • I then asked “What if …we have 15 recruits show up?” And “What if … a recruit got sick?”
  • After “What if ….” I added “then I will …” So I had statements like these: “What if we have 15 recruits show up? Then I will have to ask the Men’s Lax team to borrow some of their air mattresses for the overnight visits.” And, “What if a recruit gets sick? Then I will make sure they have my cell phone number and know how to contact me immediately.”

The power of the list, and these actions, is that I was more prepared. You will be too, and have the presence to act with more control. You will be able to find more joy in the blessing and less trauma in the disaster.

— — —

This is going to be your year of coaching! I’m here to help. That’s one reason I’m writing bookslike this. Let me know what struggles or blessings you’re dealing with. We got this!

Coach well friend, we need you more than ever.

– Mike

The Little Things That Go A Long WayMonday, January 18th, 2016

by Mandy Green, Coaching Productivity Strategies

Recently I was asked by a few coaches to give them my top 10 coaching management books.  Number one on my list was a book called “Winning” by Clive Woodward.  

I had the privilege to be a part of an amazing lecture about team management around 10 years ago.  In this lecture, the speaker told us about the book Winning! The book is about the process coach Clive Woodward went through in turning a struggling England National Rugby team into an International Rugby powerhouse.

In an effort to take his team from good to great, Woodward set out to create a unique and incredibly special experience for the players coming into his program.  His ultimate aim was to make the environment so good that once the players had experienced it, they never wanted to be left out of it. 

Woodward created this experience and environment by focusing on the little things he called Critical Non-Essentials (CNE’s).  CNE’s are all of the little things or details that make your program what it is.  Not just any kind of detail, but the development of things that would and could set your program apart from everybody else.   

These CNE’s that he focused on included: the locker room (seating, equipment, lockers, extras, decorations, laundry); dress code (home games, away games); sports information (web, game, media guides, TV, radio, other); practice (before, warm-up, training, cool-down); equipment (practice gear, game gear, logo’s, colors, misc); game day environment; medical/rehab/recovery; nutrition; fitness/strength and conditioning.

So, how does this apply to recruiting?

What do you do to set yourself apart in the eyes of your recruits if your main competitors have the same quality of players, the same resources, and the same standard of coaching?  To be even better and set yourself apart from your rivals you have to do everything in your power to improve the Critical Non-Essentials of your program.

In my usual weekly readings, I learned that Pete Carroll, when he was the coach of the USC football program, sat down with his staff and captains at the end of every season and analyzed EVERY aspect of the program, from their practice tee-shirts to their game day routines.  They would sit down and he would ask “How can we make this better?”  He did all of this in an effort to create the most productive and special experience for his players.  His players knew that Coach Carroll was willing to go the extra mile for them and it not only showed in how hard they played for him, but in the quality of recruits he kept signing year after year.  

With all of the other things that need to get done in a day, I find with most coaches these little details are what get put on the back burner and never fixed.  The time spent doing this will not only create a more loyal team, it can and will be something you can use as a selling point that will separate you from the rest of the pack.  

Here is what I recommend: buy the book if you have a chance because there are a lot of really great ideas about team management in there.  Just a warning, it is a pretty long book and is mostly about Rugby (a sport I don’t think I will ever understand).  It will be well worth your time to read through it though.  

Next, take the time to examine every aspect of the players’ experience within your program (critical non essentials) and discuss it thoroughly with your team.  Don’t just do this exercise with your coaching staff!  

This is a great exercise to get your team involved with.  Empower your team to give you feedback on how they would like things to be.  You have the ultimate veto power, but let them come up with ideas on what could make each aspect of what they experience within the program everyday a little better.  

If you want more from the players, you first have to give them good reasons why they would want to put in the extra effort.  You do that by making the critical non essentials better.  If you make your program attractive, prestigious and exclusive enough, not only will the players give everything they have within them and more, it could be something that sets your program apart from the rest in the eyes of your recruits.  

The soccer team I was coaching before I read the book was 9-6-3 that fall season.  I was then introduced to Clive Woodward’s ways that next winter.  I applied every piece of information I read in that book in the off-season with the team and went from 9-6-3 to 17-3-1 the next season.  It took A LOT of time and effort to implement these ideas, but the results we got were amazing.   Not only was the team excited and committed to the direction the program was headed, and with the experience they were having, the recruits we brought in during that time were pretty impressed as well.  I signed my top 6 recruits that fall!   

Take the time to do this coach with your staff and team.  It will take some work and patience, but you will reap the benefits from this simple exercise for years to come.  

Mandy Green has been a College Soccer Coach for more than 17 years and is the founder of Coaching Productivity Strategies, where she helps coaches develop and discipline their time management. Mandy teaches practical and immediately usable ideas, methods, strategies, and techniques that will help you achieve more, work less, and win more daily work and recruiting battles. When you learn and apply these powerful, practical techniques, you will dramatically improve the quality of your life in every area. To get more awesome collegiate-specific productivity expertise, go to www.mandygreencps.com and opt-in! 

Defense Wins Championships – Not RelationshipsMonday, September 21st, 2015

saupload_D1by Tyler Brandt, The 7 Second Coach

As a former head football coach and defensive coordinator I used to say, and be told, all the time that defense wins championships, although I might lean towards special teams being a close second. One thing that is certain is that a team can’t lose if the other team can’t score! The problem is, the same team that can’t lose, will also never be able to win, if they can’t score!

Focusing solely on defense becomes a lesson in futility when you don’t have every other phase of your game fundamentally sound! If you look at what is at the core of how you develop your athletes, program and culture it is clearly:

Relationships!!

I recently had the opportunity to watch the power of partnerships in my current college wrestling program. For over 25 years I have been a Head Coach of extremely successful programs and recently I accepted the Head Assistant Coach position Simpson College. The head coach and I have been collaborating on various technical aspects and have merged two series of techniques into a very potent offensive system! The important thing to take away is that both of us had great arguments for putting up walls and being defensive with regard to our positions and experience. The Head Coach could have taken the position that “I am the Head Coach and a former National Champion and we will do it MY WAY” and I could have taken the position that “I have been a Head Coach for nearly 3 decades, I have more experience and a proven track record of elite level coaching success and you should do it MY WAY!” However, because neither of us took a defensive position by shutting the other coach’s ideas, suggestions and opinions out and we were open to learning from each other, we created a better system together than either one of us could have done on our own!

Without a strong process oriented plan to build honest and transparent relationships based on common interests and a servant mentality, absolutely no scheme will work to its full potential! You might be asking yourself why I haven’t mentioned the fact that simply having the best athletes will make virtually any game plan easy to execute? The reason is, no matter how good your athletes are, when you are always on the defensive you’re always reacting!

Here’s what I mean, I have conversations with coaches almost daily where they’re concerned about scholarships, facilities or dorm rooms, you name it, they have sought out and found the worst their institution has to offer. Many of these coaches are constantly spending their time in a defensive position surrounding the negative aspects of their program or campus. Often coaches are spending time trying to overcome potential issues about something insignificant instead of building a relationship with the recruit. Unfortunately, a by-product of that mentality is those items become important to the prospect because the coach is spending a large amount of time on them – so the recruit becomes aware that those negative issues must be important! If the coach would have had an offensive game plan to overcome those issues as they arose instead of making them arise, the coach could have been focusing on the right things at the right time!

This happens all the time with coaches in general and not just with recruiting. A coach’s standard state of mind is often “Defensive” because they get it with both barrels all the time from every direction! Sports are so “available” that everyone thinks they know how to coach so it’s simply just easier to take a defensive posture and keep EVERYONE at arms length. This tactic never ends up working out very well, but does insulate the coach for a short period of time. The most unfortunate aspect of coaches being so defensive is that they often miss great opportunities to improve and advance because they have shut-off the collaboration.

The best plan is to be on the offensive with a resolute plan to focus on learning the right things, from the right people so that those things can be implemented and delivered at the right time to build the best athletic environment possible for the athletes. When that is accomplished the wins truly do take care of themselves! Learn to build the relationships that matter with your, coaches, athletes and parents and watch your program skyrocket to the top!

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Thanksgiving, Black Friday, And How To Get More From Your CoachingMonday, November 24th, 2014

by Mike Davenport, CoachingSportsToday.com

This is a challenging week in the States. Thursday is Thanksgiving, which is about gratitude, family and appreciation.

The following day, lovingly called Black Friday, is all about wicked-crazy-hyper-consumerism.

Those two days seem opposed to each other in spirit and in action. It’s enough to make you stop and think, if you can find a quiet moment, that is.

How to get more from coaching.

A thing I’ve learned from these two holidays is to appreciate. I learned this from my parents, who were both simple and hard working folks.

Growing up outside of Boston, I can remember them grumbling when stores first started opening the day after Thanksgiving. And each year, as more and more ad-inserts came stuffed in the newspapers, their grumbling increased.

They weren’t upset by people buying. They did, however, see people under-appreciating the things they already had. I heard more than once, “tried-and-true is forgotten thanks to the latest-and-greatest.”

Celebrate and appreciate.

These are two different words, but this time of year both are important:

To celebrate is to acknowledge publicly, in a social way
To appreciate is to recognize the full worth, in a private way

The difference is subtle, yet both actions speak loudly to how I (and you) can get more from coaching. Specifically, I do this each year by celebrating & appreciating my forgotten coaching-treasures. If you’ve been at this crazy vocation for a while you’ve got a coaching-treasure hidden somewhere.

Our forgotten coaching-treasures.

Often my coaching-treasures get buried. The hidden treasures I have could be:

  • Books
  • Videos
  • Friends
  • Mentors
  • Plans
  • Equipment
  • Athletes
  • Past victories
  • Lessons learned

Some are tangible, some not. Regardless, finding, and then celebrating & appreciating those treasures help me get more from my coaching. How? It’s surprising the significant value those treasures often have.

Finding the gold.

How do I do a coaching-treasure hunt? Well, I can:

1. Do an inventory. I look around, then look deeper. I search in the deep corners I’ve ignored. I move the top layer of cruf. So often I’ve found items I thought lost, and had to replace. I could have saved money and time.
2. Ask a friend/peer. I had a vague memory of a workout I used a few years ago. It solved a technical problem the team was having but I couldn’t remember exactly what it was. I texted a coaching buddy who knew exactly what it was, and in moments a treasure was found. The problem was solved.
3. Review your notes/records. If you keep a notebook (mine is in Evernote) search the oldest recording. Read, view, listen. Let the memories come back. So often I’ve found tricks and tips long forgotten that are applicable still.

Those three simple steps have helped me find pure gold. But I have to be careful of getting sidetracked and distracted. It’s easy to happen, so I set a timer/reminder to pull me back to today.

Help another coach.

Another part of Thanksgiving is helping others.

I have a plan to do just that. I call it The 60 Day Challenge To Become A Better Rowing Coach. In essence it’s about sharing info about better coaching. If you’re a rowing coach there’s tons of stuff for you. Other sport coaches will find value too. You can sign up by clicking here. And the cost — nada. Now that can’t be beat. Hope you join us in the adventure

Meanwhile, enjoy the upcoming week. Celebrate & appreciate as needed, and don’t forget those hidden coaching-treasures, especially when the temptation of Black Friday looms over you.

 

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

by Tyler Brandt, National Recruiting Coordinator

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

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

Here is my challenge to you …..

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

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

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

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

So we implemented a recruiting program focusing on the athlete:

1)    Becoming Sovereign

2)    Becoming An Expert

3)    Becoming Significant

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

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

The Right Recruiting AttitudeSaturday, May 31st, 2014

by Charlie Adams, StokeTheFireWithin.com

After taking Vanderbilt to new heights thanks to his recruiting success there, new Penn State head football coach James Franklin has Penn State trailing only Alabama as far as recruiting success with the class of 2015. He also has more commits than any other program in the country.

In my motivational programs and books, I emphasize the importance of attitude and making a difference. Franklin is about attitude. In fact, he has a degree in Psychology from his days of playing quarterback at D2 East Stroudsburg State. He earned his master’s degree in educational leadership from Washington State.

Even before he got into coaching his whole thing in life was that he wanted to make a positive impact on people and help them reach their life’s potential.

When he was at Vanderbilt, Franklin’s strategy for recruiting highly rated kids was to tell them they could go to a SEC power and get compared to someone who already had success there, or they could come to Vandy and make their own legacy. That worked with a lot of recruits.

At Penn State, he is tearing it up on the recruiting trail. In a May 27th USA Today story by Paul Myerberg, Franklin and his staff shared their philosophies on recruiting.

Two factors have contributed to Penn State’s effective start on the recruiting trail. The first is continuity, in a sense: Seven of Penn State’s nine assistants worked alongside Franklin at Vanderbilt, meaning each understood the program’s approach despite an unfamiliarity with the general recruiting region – though several coaches, like offensive coordinator John Donovan, are either from the area or scouted local prospects while with the Commodores.

Second, per Franklin’s demand, each assistant coach is active on social media, using the direct-message tool to keep in constant contact with committed and uncommitted recruits. Assistants recruit an area – splitting New Jersey into three zones, for example – but no one coach handles a single prospect alone; each potential signee builds a relationship with several coaches, sometimes on separate sides of the ball.

It’s about checks and balances: Penn State’s recruits must pledge their commitment to two coaches, for example, not just one, while Franklin signs off on each potential new addition to the program. The staff has been able to connect with recruits by layering relationships, Franklin said; the location has changed, he added, but the message hasn’t.

“The thing about James is, no one’s going to recruit harder than him, and it’s all about relationships,” said East Stroudsburg University offensive line coach Mike Santella, Franklin’s college roommate.

“And that’s not just lip service with him. He believes that. That’s what makes him different than a lot of people. He’s going to want to get to know everything about you.”

And, as such, the details make the difference.

“You’ve got to know how to sell that university, what makes that university special compared to somewhere else,” quarterback coach Ricky Rahne said. “You’ve got to be able to embrace those and sell those things. You’ve got to know the little things, and that’s probably the hardest.”

My motivational programs are built on the importance of attitude and enthusiasm about life, and one reason so many good kids are saying yes to Franklin is his never ending enthusiasm and positive attitude. I have delivered hundreds of programs over the years in high school settings and I have found the number one thing kids like about my talks are the enthusiastic way in which they are delivered and how positive I am about their potential in life.

I hope these insights from coach Franklin and his staff are helpful to you in your recruiting!

Charlie Adams is the author of four books on peak performance and the power of attitude, including 2013’s ‘How to Build a Positive Attitude and KEEP the Darn Thing! His oldest son was a college cross country runner and his oldest daughter is a college swimmer. You can read more of Charlie’s motivational articles at stokethefirewithin.com

I’m Going To Lose, And So Are YouMonday, April 21st, 2014

by Mike Davenport, CoachingSportsToday.com

It is going to happen.

The odds of either of us being undefeated are wicked small. Yet, I bet you plan on winning, focus on winning, seldom talking about “that other” outcome. I do the same, because we are an optimistic lot, us coaches.

But we need to think about losing, not for the team’s sake, but for our own sake. We need a plan for when (not if, but when) losing happens.

Here’s the deal … coaching is emotional and stressful. Some researchers have found coaches go through a heavy load of stress during a contest. When the contest is evenly matched, and the expectation of winning is great, the heavier is the impact of losing upon the coach.

We coach in a world where the winner gets the spoils, and the losers suffer, and that can be really tough on coaches. The moment the contest is over, there you stand, full of the emotion of the event, and what do you do? Me? I spent the first five years of coaching throwing up. That was a wonderful experience.

But I’ve learned my lesson, and for the last 28 years of coaching the following are what I do when I lose.

The split second an event ends and I’ve lost …

I BREATHE LIKE I MEAN IT

I breathe in to a 4-count, and exhale to a 1-count. Seriously, it just ended, and I’m breathing. And so should you.

Why? Focused breathing has a positive reduction-effect on stress hormones. So it reduces immediate stress. It also distracts me for a few seconds and brings me back to center.

Try it right now. Just stop for 30 seconds and breathe. 4-count in, 1-count out. There is a benefit to it. I haven’t lied to you yet, and I’m not going to start now.

Then, within minutes after losing I   …

THANK “THEM”

I thank the opposition. Often contests are set up so the moment it ends teams shake hands. I do more than the shake, I thank them. For what? Making me a better person.

For the lead up to the contest, I and the team have worked on improvement, becoming better at what we do and who we are. That’s all because of the competition. So I am thankful for that opportunity. Thankful for them. I tell them, and I mean it.

Within 5 minutes of losing I …

FIND PERSPECTIVE

Everyone is starring in their own movie. Meaning, my team’s fans, parents, and opposition are thinking about themselves, not me. I lost, and the person who cares the most is … me. The same for you. It is your movie, after all.

So, if it is all about me, I change the movie.

I try to find quick perspective of the importance of the event. There are so many huge, important, things happening in the World, the outcome of my collegiate event isn’t even on the Richter scale. Yes, I get it that the outcome of the World Cup or an Olympic event can be of huge importance, I’m not talking about those events. My event, your event, is tiny, so small. In the big picture, we aren’t there.

Before I leave the event, I …

HELP ANOTHER

I heard a recent podcast where a book author said, when you are hurting, help someone. Funky as it sounds, it is almost magical.

Recently, we were expected to win a race, but we lost. On the way to our vehicles I saw an elderly woman who was struggling to get her belongings in her car. I stopped, and helped her. It took me three minutes to do what might have taken her thirty. That was it. No fantastic backstory. But helping someone when I was grumbly sure made me feel better.

And, on the way home …

A NEW PLAN

After leaving the event I begin planning. How are we going to move ahead in a positive, constructive, enjoyable way?

There are horror stories of the wrath of a coach after a loss. I offer no comment on what others do, but I have found the whip causes horses to run away, and a cube of sugar keeps them engaged.

A positive vision forward is what the team wants and deserves, more importantly, it is what we coaches need.

I’m out the door, to go to a race where I stand a good chance of losing. I have my mental toolbox packed in case I do. And what’s interesting, I’ll do all five things, also, if we win.

Dr. Mike Davenport is a longtime college coach and the man behind the popular website CoachingSportsToday.com.  He is a regular contributor to College Recruiting Weekly.

“I Got This” – Where The Unraveling BeginsFriday, April 11th, 2014

by Tyler Brandt, National Recruiting Coordinator

After we moved into our new house, my wife and I knew at some point we would finish our basement as a place for our kids to hang out with their friends and obviously increase the value of our home. It was something we had done in our previous home and it was great for the kids. We had a handyman finish our previous basement as we were moving cross-country and needed it done prior to arriving in Iowa from Arizona.

This time it was different, I was here, I had some framing, drywall and finishing experience so this would be a great DIY project for me and save a ton of money. So, I went out and priced materials and decided to get a plan ready to go. As a kid I had worked on farms, in construction, some mason work, and took wood shop along with welding in school so – “I Got This.”

While I was at my son’s basketball practice I was talking with one of the moms about my upcoming project and she said that her husband was a Industrial Engineer graduate from Iowa State University and owns his own framing & construction company and would be more than happy to take a look at the project for me. I of course said, “That would be great – I would like his suggestions for MY project!” He eventually called and came over and we talked about the job and I thanked him for all of his great ideas and let him know that it was really going to help ME DO MY DIY PROJECT!!

For the next few days I walked around my basement drawing, measuring, computing and imagining how awesome MY project was going to be with the ideas from my buddy – The Construction Professional. And the time finally came to start the project and BE A MAN that can build things! While in Home Depot with a flat bed full of lumber and hardware a clerk came up and said Looks like a big project” and I said “I am finishing my basement” in my greatest Tim the Toolman Taylor voice stopping just short of the manly grunts. The clerk said “That is a great project but you should probably be using green treated lumber for the base of your wall frames.”

I said thank you and slowly put everything back into the places where I had got them and called my wife and said “What do you think about using Mark for the basement project?” Being the intelligent wife she is she says “Why – I thought you were going to do it? And the professional coach in me said “I was in the land of EGO RULES EVERYTHING but in the real world where results are accomplished by doing things the right way I would do more damage than good. It would get done but it would be done my way not the way it should be done!

So, I made the call. I have watched my choice to accept the help from a professional who has a skill set and a knowledge base different from my own transform my basement into something that we will be able to use and be proud of for as long as we own this house. What was the cost to me? Financially we paid a little more than if I would have done the job myself, that’s for sure, but the quality is 100 fold better. Let’s quickly talk about my EGO on this issue – my EGO is SOARING THROUGH THE CLOUDS! As I watch what is happening in my house for my kids I can’t tell you how good I feel about my choice to hire a professional to help me in a place that I needed it!

I am flying high right now because life is imitating art in my own home! I have written on many occasions about how we as coaches and business professionals need to seek out and secure people that can help us accomplish our goals in areas that we are not experts. That is exactly what I did and I couldn’t be happier with the results!

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