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I’m Busting My Butt, Yet I Just Can’t WinMonday, October 1st, 2018

by Mike Davenport, Coaching Sports Today

Years ago I was sitting in the locker room. Head-in-hands.

I remember saying these words out loud.

I’m Busting My Butt, Yet I Just Can’t Win

It was like fingernails being dragged down a blackboard.

I was frustrated. Confused. Couldn’t see my way ahead.

That’s when a fellow coach gave me a piece of advice I have never forgotten

I want to share it with you.

He told me:

Stop being a jerk. Figure out what ‘winning’ means for you.

I remember looking at him and thinking he was nuts.

We all know what winning is

Don’t we?

It’s thrusted on coaches that “winning” is beating the other team.

And most coaches are good with that.

But are you? I’m not.

Is it possible that winning has a different definition?

For example, I know fellow coaches who get very excited about:

  • Their team’s graduation rate
  • An alum who achieves her dream
  • A successful fundraising project
  • An athlete completing the course he never thought he could
  • Teaching the sports skills, strategies, tactics

They define winning in those terms. Yes, those coaches care what the score is when their contest is over…but it does not define winning for them.

If this sounds anything like you, then you might find the following steps helpful.

Step 1: Define winning

It’s critical you know exactly what “winning” is—for you.

You might have to go to your athletic director or supervisor to figure this out.

This is critical, because, face it, if where you work has a sole focus on the won/loss record, AND your definition of “winning” is your team’s graduation rate, then frustration looms in your future.

So take a few minutes and define “winning.”

I did, and it changed everything for me.

Step 2: Identify the pieces it takes to get to the win

After you define winning, relative to you, figure out the pieces of the puzzle you need to get you there.

For instance, in my sport of rowing there are five critical pieces to make a boat go fast:

  1. the athlete
  2. training
  3. technique
  4. equipment
  5. rigging

Without those five pieces the chances of a rowing shell being competitive are greatly reduced.

If I want to be competitive in a race, I need to have those pieces in place.

So what are you pieces? Get them out in front of you—write them down.

Step 3: Focus solely on those pieces

Be singular in your focus…laser-like.

You now know what your definition of winning is, and you know the pieces needed to take to get you there. Now go get ’em Coach.


Take action dedicated to putting the pieces in place.

That probably means you need to get off social media.

That probably means some of the things you don’t like doing you need to do.

And that also probably means you need help somewhere along the line.

Step 4: Get help

Yeah, you might be able to do this on your own.

But you probably could do it faster, cheaper, smarter, and easier with help.

It will also be a lot more fun with help.

I’d still be in that locker room feeling sorry for myself if it wasn’t for that coach.

Sometimes a buddy, friend, mentor or even a stranger can make all the difference.

Increasing the Value of Your Coaching, and Why You Should Do It ASAPSunday, September 23rd, 2018

by Mike Davenport, Coaching Sports Today

If you want to make our world a better place, there are few ways more powerful than being a coach. – Dr. Jim Knight

Sport coaches are a dime-a-dozen.

I know…that stings like getting snapped with a rolled-up, locker-room towel; however, there is truth to it.

The truth lies in the fact there are many, many coaches in the world, at least 3 million in the US alone.

As one athletic director told me, “There’s more coaches out there then I can shake a stick at.” (I’m not quite sure why he felt the need to shake a stick, but that’s what he said.)

Yet here’s the thing … of all those coaches:

  • The ones that MATTER
  • The coaches who make a DIFFERENCE
  • The coaches who make the MONEY, who get the JOB, who the athletes, fans, and admins LOVE …

are the ones who have Coaching Value.

A funky little thing called value

Right down the road from where I lived was a small food store.

It was run down, the owner was a grump, the perishables usually rotten.

I always looked over my shoulder in that store.

Yet, yet, yet … when I ran out of cat litter, which I’d do at least twice a month, that store always had it.

You see, the place had value for me because I didn’t have to drive 15 extra miles to hit the city-store. Thirty-seconds away was a store that had what I needed—solved my problem.

As dumpy as that store was, it had value.

A simple little value equation …

I get it, a term like value can cause eyes to glaze over, yet if you don’t have value as a coach you won’t make an impact.

So, what is your coaching value? A little simple math can help:

coaching value = solution + cost + quality

If, where you coach, you can:

  • solve a problem,
  • for a reasonable price,
  • in a quality manner

… then you have coaching value. And,

  • the harder the problem is,
  • the better your price is,
  • the higher your quality is,

… the GREATER your coaching value.

Look at it this way …

Your athletes problem, combined with your solution as a college coach, is your coaching value.

Now hold that thought for just a minute.

Why you should care about your coaching value

You’re knee deep in alligators.

We are all knee deep in gators, but here is why you, Coach, need to care about this:

If you don’t have coaching value you will be known as a worthless coach.

Now simmer down, I’m not saying you ARE worthless, you’ll just get KNOWN as worthless in that coaching position.

You might have immense skills and knowledge but in the wrong place there’s no value in that.

That’s a bitter pill to swallow but it’s the way of coaching today.

And the coaches with great coaching value? Well, they get the cool stuff.

Okay then, how do I become more valuable?

Here’s how you increase your coaching value.

Step 1. Think about them: Turn your focus to the powers-to-be that employ you (or might employ you) as a coach. What problem do they have that needs solving? Fill in this blank for them (or better, yet ask them to fill it in themselves):

We need a coach who can ____________

A few possible answers:

* We need a coach who can …recruit 10 student-athletes each year

* We need a coach who can …fundraise $20k

* We need a coach who can …win a national championship

* We need a coach who can …turn the program around

Step 2. Be the solution: Now, if you are the solution to their problem, you have coaching value. (Realize, if they are just looking for a warm body to watch some kids run around with a soccer ball, and you are a warm body, then you have coaching value.)

To quickly increase your coaching value, offer a solution that is high quality.

Give them more than they bargained for.

An example, instead of just recruiting 10 student-athlete, recruit them and then retain them. Your coaching value soars.

Step 3. Grow the solution: To really grow your coaching value, take your solution and expand it, and don’t be afraid to show off.

For instance, when I first started coaching, dealing with the rowing equipment was a constant issue.

I developed a few processes, put that info into a book, did workshops, and created a websiteabout those solutions.

My coaching value increased greatly. In fact, one administrator told me those steps had a significant impact on me being selected to the 1996 US Olympic team as the boatman (person responsible for the equipment).

Step 4. Repeat: Coaching value doesn’t remain still, it is a constant effort to keep your value up. Once you have it, you have to maintain it, and grow it.

If not? Well, remember all those other millions of coaches out there …

What’s the next step is your coaching-value journey?

Let’s put a nice wrapper and ribbon around this with a quick summary:

  • It’s to your advantage to have coaching value. The more you have the greater the advantage.
  • Coaching value is more important today than ever due to the expectations of the job, the dynamics of the market, the competition for the jobs.
  • The first and most important step for increasing your coaching value is to answer this question: They want a coach who can ____________
  • Don’t stop improving your value, it’s an endless cycle.

Let the journey to richer coaching value begin.

Keep Reading

On Being a “Reasonable” CoachMonday, September 17th, 2018

by Mike Davenport, Coaching Sports Today

[This is an update to a post from 2013 and is not intended to be legal advice and should not be taken as so. It is only meant to introduce a concept to coaches.]

Take a situation.

What would a reasonable person do?

What would a reasonable person think about that situation?

What action would a reasonable person take?

What is a reasonable person?

A “reasonable person” is defined as “a hypothetical person in society who exercises average care, skill, and judgment in conduct and who serves as a comparative standard for determining liability.”

That straight from Wikipedia.

Does being reasonable matter for you, Coach?

What a reasonable person would do is a standard used more-and-more to measure whether a person’s (and a coach’s) actions were appropriate, or not.

For example, imagine a rowing coach walking to the dock, looking out upon the river, and seeing nothing but a heavy blanket of fog.

Should the coach venture out into the “pea soup” to practice?

Or, should the coach decide to stay on shore and have the team do their workout off the water?

What would a reasonable person do?

Let’s say the team did launch their boats and row in the fog.

Then something terrible were to happen related to it being foggy.

How a reasonable person would have acted could make a difference if the incident becomes a legal issue.

Hard coaching decisions and being a reasonable person

Let’s take a different example—you are coaching high-school football.

It’s the fourth quarter.

Big game—championship game.

Your star tight-end takes a heavy hit to the head.

It’s pretty obvious the collision has taken a toll on him.

What do you do?

Do you sit him? Do you play him?

There are college coaches in the stands specifically watching him.

They might decide his fate in terms of the scholarship to Wicked-Big State U.

Tick-tock…what’s your decision?

Unfortunately, you are both physically and emotionally engaged in the situation and often it’s hard to act reasonably.

In the heat of a contest the focus we have can cloud our decisions.

Can you act like a reasonable person would?

Meet my imaginary friend

I’m not suggesting every decision you make should be filtered through our imaginary friend—that reasonable person.

What I am suggesting though is that when facing a coaching decision that could have serious repercussions, as a baseline, you MUST consider what a reasonable person would do.

And if it’s too difficult to do that, then you must find a real reasonable person to help you with the decision.

Let’s go back to the previous football example.

It’s been determined that it is too difficult, because of the pressure and emotion of such a situation, for a coach to decide like a reasonable person. So another person, someone more skilled, like a trained athletic trainer or physician, now makes that decision about the player returning.

So where do you go from here?

Again, this is not intended to be legal advice. But you need to know about the reasonable-person standard.

As the job of coaching sports continues to get more challenging, thinking and acting as a reasonable person could keep you out of hot water.

Improve your decisions.

Actually make coaching a little more enjoyable.

Keep learning

An Exit Plan Today Will Make You a Better Coach TomorrowTuesday, September 11th, 2018

by Mike Davenport, Coaching Sports Today

Jack is in line at the supermarket, waiting to pay for his bananas. He knows exactly what he is going to do as soon as he gets his change.

He has a plan.

Barb, a fifth grader, is watching the clock slowly move toward 3pm.

She has big plans when school is over.

Both Jack and Barb have what is known as an “exit plan.”

They know what they are going to do after they have finished what they are currently doing.

They know “what’s next.”

It amazes me how few coaches do.

You will leave coaching

Sooner or later every coach leaves coaching.

You will not be different.

Holding a pink slip after the first year, or with a gold-plated wristwatch after 45 years, or somewhere in between—we all leave.

Right now…just down the hall…or up the street is a coach who is getting ready to move on.

But to what?

I’ve worked with hundreds of coaches and I’ve asked many what they would do next if they were to leave their current job.

Very few knew.

Leaving on your mind

It is hard to dwell on leaving, especially if you’ve had to fight hard to get the job.

However, having leaving-on-your-mind, specifically, having an exit plan—can help you be a better coach.

It sure did me

Before I left my first coaching job I had an exit plan.

The plan was to travel to New Zealand and work as a white water raft guide.

And that is exactly what I did.

It was a great experience and one thing that helped make it amazing was that I had my exit plan in hand two years before I used it

How’d that help?

As soon as I knew the plan I starting becoming a better employee and a better coach.

An exit plan can help YOU, right now, to be a better coach. It did me. Here are three ways how.

An exit plan helps you build better relationships

You want to leave your job on good terms, right?

Sure, most people do.

They want to be liked, remembered fondly, and be able to use the employer for a good reference.

Yes, there are few folks who don’t care about those, but they are a small group.

Me? I want to leave on good terms and I bet you do too.

See, that’s one way right there having an exit plan makes you a better coach.

My plan made me realize that the relationships I had at work were critical to my success, so I became better at my end of the relationship.

It is commonly thought that a poor win/loss ratio is why most coaches find themselves out of a job. Not so—relationship issues are the number one reason.

So build positive relationships by doing things like:

  • Helping out your co-coaches and peers.
  • Jazzing up the place with your positive attitude and great work ethic.
  • Being methodical with random acts of kindness.

Do things now to build strong relationships could give your career a boost, and you’ll be a better coach because of it.

Become a student of the game

If you plan to stay in coaching, are you learning as much as you can?

Are you developing skills to take you to the next level?

Not just sport-specific skills but other critical skills such as problem-solving skills, communicating-skills, recruiting-skills.

Let’s say you are currently a college assistant coach, and you have an exit plan to become a head coach.

There is a lot to learn to make that step.

Your exit plan (knowing you want to be a head coach) should motivate you to learn as much as you can. Become a student-of-the-game, a sponge that absorbs as much as possible, and then a little bit more.

  • You learn more, you are a better coach right now.
  • You learn more, you’ll be a better coach tomorrow.
  • You learn more and you’ll be much more likely to keep that next job when you get there.

Two down, one to go …

Leave with grace

How you leave is often remembered more than what you did while you were there.

And your coaching legacy, what you leave behind, is an important part of your coaching career.

That is the third way your exit plan can help you be a better coach—grace in leaving.

Remember I told you about leaving my first coaching job?

My Dad, who had been in business for years gave me great advice he used when he changed jobs—be thankful.

When it was time to leave (according to my exit plan) I made sure that I found everyone at the school who helped me along the way and thanked them.

From bus driver to athletic director, I told them how much I appreciated their help, shook their hand, gave them a card.

How did that make me a better coach?

Well, it made be a better person, and thus a better coach.

See the connection?

To tomorrow and beyond

There is only one guarantee in coaching sports, and that is that one day you will leave the job.

It happens to every single coach.

Your decision or theirs, it doesn’t matter, that day is coming.

Don’t you want to be prepared?

The future is right outside your locker room.

That’s why it’s important you have an exit plan.

Mike Davenport is a thought leader and coaching expert. Through his work with Coaching Sports Today, and Tudor Collegiate Strategies, coaches learn the correct philosophical approach to build a great college coaching career. Contact him at mike@dantudor.com

The Real Bosses of CoachesMonday, September 3rd, 2018

by Mike Davenport, Coaching Sports Today

I want to share one of those “priceless” things you learn early in a college coaching career, and you wish someone had told you about on your very first day. (Or if they had told you, you wish you had listened a little more intently).

When I first started coaching (as a college assistant coach), I was under the impression that I had three main bosses: the Head Coach, the Athletic Director, and the President of the school.

My view of the world was basically “Keep those three bosses happy and all would be great!”

Boy was I mistaken.

The REAL Bosses

Although those three were my supervisors and superiors, and they wielded some power, they weren’t my REAL bosses.

There were other bosses—hidden ones—who could make-or-break my day at work. Actually, they could make-or-break my coaching career.

These REAL bosses were the folks who truly wielded the power.

They had complete control, on any given day, to either make my work life easy or difficult.

I was at their mercy, and when I started coaching I didn’t even have a clue.

Luckily, I caught on…real quick.

And at the exact moment I caught on the chances of my career being longer than one season wickedly improved.

Who were those bosses?

Boss #1: Athletic Department office manager

Total control of money matters, recruiting information, time sheets, transportation requests and just about anything else that dealt with the organizational aspects of coaching rested in this person’s hands (or on their desk). That was a lot of power.

Boss #2: Fleet manager

He controlled the gas pumps/cards and any vehicles used for transportation or recruiting (two critical items for any college coach).

Boss #3: Athletic Trainer

Bluntly, on a daily basis she had control over who participated, and who sat out. I thought I made the line-ups, but one word from her and those line-ups were not even worth the paper I scribbled them on.

Boss #4: Admissions Director

The director of an admissions office can have a bigger impact on your roster than you, no matter how proficient you are at recruiting. That’s power.

In The Army Now?

Like the sergeants in the Army these folks knew how to get things done. And like sergeants, they deserved respect for what they knew and what they did.

As I said, luckily I caught on to this real quick—but so many coaches don’t.

The same thing happens in almost every business—there are those hidden bosses.

And what if coach somewhere besides a college? You still have hidden bosses. Do you know who they are? Who really has the power and control over your job?

This is really worth dwelling on

More than once I’ve counseled a new coach about these REAL bosses, and more than once I’ve seen coaches not treat them right.

Those coaches rarely last very long. Not because of their won/loss record, rather their poor treatment of a hidden boss came back to haunt them in ways they probably could not foresee.

Unfair? Not really.

Just a lesson to be learnt about how things (organizations) really work. Pay attention to your REAL bosses.

Your career will thank you.

And A Request

I have a goal, to help 1000 coaches improve their experience as a coach. If you’re willing, would you please share this with one coach who matters to you? If only one coach reads this because of you, the net results is that you help them have a better experience and help me get one step closer to my goal. A double-win. Actually a triple-win, because we might keep a hidden boss happy and who knows what impact that could have on us!

Thanks for considering this.

Is It Time For You to Open Up Your Bag, Coach?Monday, August 20th, 2018

by Mike Davenport, Coaching Sports Today

I’ve noticed many coaches (especially myself) have a few coaching tricks we hold on to.

Honestly, I’ve tried many of the new, latest-and-greatest tricks. Especially when it comes to using the newest technology whiz-bang gizmo. But seldom do I find new ones that work as well as my current tricks, so I keep coming back to just a few tricks I can count on.

A few special ones that really work for me.

I keep my coaching tricks in a bag that is never far from hand, just like the cartoon character Felix the Cat.

That’s the way most old coaches are. We hold on dearly to what works and keep them close by. And I do consider myself an old coach (with around four decades of coaching experience).

After all those years there are two things I have learned

First, OLD coaches can learn NEW tricks. Certainly.

But second, and more importantly. . .

YOUNG coaches can (and should) learn OLD tricks.

The type of trick that is BOMB PROOF.

A trick that works, and works, and works. Time-tested, if you will.


Because young coaches are a highly motivated group. Looking for ways to improve. Trying to get to the finish before the other coach does. Willing to try new and old tricks alike. The old tricks that have survived usually do so because they work.

What does this have to do with you?

If you consider yourself an old coach (been through, say, more than 7 seasons) how about writing down 3 or so tricks that you always use in your coaching. Just don’t think about them, write them down. Then, share those old tricks with a young coach.

Sounds awkward, I know. And maybe egotistical.

But by sharing even just one of those old coaching tricks in a graceful and generous manner, with a young coach, you may reap rewards in ways that will surprise you. And if you’re a young coach, six seasons or less, how about asking the advice of an older coach. You may be surprised at what you learn, and might make an old coach feel just a little bit better about coaching.

A little give-and-take can go a long way. That right there is one of my coaching tricks.

Learn from Dr. Davenport’s four decades of college coaching experience by visiting Coaching Sports Today. Or, to work with Mike in his role as National Recruiting Coordinator here at Tudor Collegiate Strategies, email him at mike@dantudor.com

Your Call to Action Gets Things DoneMonday, August 13th, 2018

by Mike Davenport, Coaching Sports Today

[This is part four in the series on effective persuasion for sport coaches. Click here for the other articles.]

Here’s a fact—whenever your athlete leaves a meeting, a practice, or a huddle without knowing EXACTLY what to do…you’ve missed a chance at success.

And you may never get that opportunity for success again.

You need to nail the effective persuasion part

Coaches persuade.

Our job is to convince people to take positive action.

Persuasion is our bread & butter and the best coaches are masters of it.

Unfortunately, persuasion does not come easy for many. That’s the bad news.

The good news—with practice you can become very effective at persuasion.

Persuasion, the act of convincing someone to take positive action is a series of steps. Over the past weeks, we’ve been working on the first three steps of effective persuasion, which are:

  1. Step 1. Grab Attention
  2. Step 2. Spark Interest
  3. Step 3. Fascinate

Now it’s time for the final step…

Your call-to-action

This last step is no secret to the marketing world.

They are experts at using a call-to-action:

“So you don’t forget, call before midnight!”

“Operators are standing by, so call now!”

“Stop smelling bad, buy Stink Away today!”

We can learn a lot from from the marketing world. And we should, because coaches are marketers, and an effective call-to-action can make or break you.

What makes an effective call-to-action?

A call-to-action is asking (or telling) someone to take action. Athletes hear them all the time:

You’re primary receiver, so run a post pattern.

The bus leaves early, be here at 6:30 am.

Get your physicals to the trainer by end of the day, tomorrow.

Each of those are simple.

Each are specific.

And each leaves little doubt in the mind of the person what action he should take.

Being specific and keeping it simple are at the core of a good call-to-action.

There are a few other important things you should keep in mind:

A good call-to-action aligns with the person’s values. “I know you want to win this game, so doing this drill now will help you score in tonight’s game.

A sense of urgency improves the odds the person will follow through. “The deadline for your physical form is tomorrow. No form and you cannot be on the team.

An examples of the action helps. “See the exercise Jane just did? You need to do the exact same thing.

Timing of your call-to-action is critical

When do you think is the perfect time to ask someone to take action?

It depends on the person (or team), and the situation.

Usually, after you complete the first three steps of persuasion is the best time to issue a call-to-action. If you ask before then, your chances of success dwindle.

And don’t hesitate.

Strike while the fire of fascination is burning bright.

Wait too long, and the person will have moved on to the next call in in her life (friends, studies, work, social media, etc.)

You will know if your timing was right, if the action happened.

If it didn’t, then next time adjust your timing.

The medium matters

Be mindful of the method of communication you use.

The medium you use matters.

Personally, I find my calls-to-action work best when issued in person.

Yet, there are times when calls come through email (summer letters), or phone calls (distant recruits), or letters (fundraising).

A good rule of thumb—the closer to a personal connection you make when you issue your call, the greater the chance of success.

Also, be selective with your choice of words. Here are three ways of asking for the same action:

  • Do as I say—pick up that barbell now!
  • Lifting weights are critical to your success. Ready to lift?
  • I notice you are not lifting correctly. Would you like to discuss it?

They elicit a very different emotional response in the person. When you issue your call, what exactly do you want the response to be?

Your choice of wording will determine how positive the response is.

Where can you go with this?

Let me ask you,

  • Would you like to be a better coach? Then, click here.
  • Simple, short tips can make your coaching more effective. Please listen to a few.
  • Stuck? Then try this.

Each of those are my calls-to-actions.

Did any of them work on you? Did you click any of the links?

Take a moment and think through why you did click, or why you did not.

Here’s the bottom line of the entire series

Persuasion is the life blood of coaching. Effective persuasion is how you will get those around you to take positive action…the positive action they need to take.

Like all good tools, effective persuasion won’t do you any good if it lingers in the bottom of your toolbox.

Take it out, practice with it, and use it.

The better you are at effective persuasion, the better coach you will be!

Here’s What I Want You To Do…Monday, July 30th, 2018

by Mike Davenport

I would rather try to persuade a man to go along, because once I have persuaded him, he will stick. If I scare him, he will stay just as long as he is scared, and then he is gone.
– Dwight D. Eisenhower, 34th President of the United States

You’re reading this, which means the title did exactly what I hoped it would do—it sparked your interest. And that’s exactly what effective sports coaches have to do—they have spark people’s interest.

Sparking interest is critical to persuading athletes

Persuading someone to take positive action is at the core of what coaches do. And it’s one of the hardest processes for a coach to master.

Honestly, barking orders at an athlete and expecting positive action is unrealistic—especially today. And it never really worked.

Instead, once you’ve grabbed an athlete’s attention, you have to spark their interest to get the action you want.

It’s a pivotal step. Here’s an example:

Jake had been playing left tackle all season. He’s done a good job, stayed healthy, and worked his way into a starting position. Now, due to injuries, you need Jake to switch to right tackle. He won’t start immediately, which will be tough for him, but he will once he has learned the position.

You’ve asked Jake to stop by your office, to discuss the switch. That is Step #1 in the persuasion process—you’ve got his attention. (BTW, if you ever ask an athlete to stop by your office without telling them why, rest assured, you WILL have her attention.)

After you spark interest you need to…

The outcome of the meeting with Jake is critical:

  • for you
  • for the team
  • for Jake

Unfortunately, often coaches tell an athlete what to do and then assume that’s the end of story. But that was sooo yesterday. Today it’s different. Today it takes MORE to persuade.

Simply, it comes down to value.

If Jake doesn’t find value in taking the action, he won’t be committed to the task. Which means he might take action, but even if he does it might not be positive action.

That could be the opposite of what you want, and for poor Jake, making the change is going to be challenging enough, but tougher still if his interest is not sparked and there is not value in it for him.

Sport leadership expert Jeff Janssen has constructed a commitment continuum which lends perspective. The greater the value for the team member, or in our case Jake, the further to the right on the scale he will be.


What does the athlete value?

Focusing on Jake, how could you determine what he values?

Well, maybe his dream is to be the best left tackle in the conference. Or possibly he is the type of special athlete who dreams of sacrificing personal gain for the team’s best interest. If it’s the former, then the switch will fail. But if it is the latter, then things are looking much brighter.

How do you tell what the person on the other end of the conversation values? One way is to use an Empathy Map. Created by Dave Gray, at Xplane, Empathy Maps are a tool to get into the mind of another person. They help you:

see what they see
hear what they hear
feel what they feel

And with that knowledge you have a better understanding of what is of value to the other person. As Aaron Orendorff says,

it’s about entering the conversation that is already going on in a person’s heart

Time for a quick review

  1. Persuasion, an important tool for a coach, is “convincing someone to take positive action
  2. There are four main steps to effective persuasion
  3. Step #1 Is Getting Someone’s Attention
  4. Step #2 Is Sparking Interest
  5. There are other ways to figure it out, but an Empathy Map is an excellent way to grasp what someone might value

As a coach, you’ll need the skill to persuade.

The more effective you are at that skill, the better coach you’ll be.

And as I started the conversation, Here’s what I want you to do (and you need to do)…

Learn More:

Mike Davenport is a veteran college coach, author and instructor. He is also one of our key National Recruiting Coordinators at Tudor Collegiate Strategies, helping coaches maximize their recruiting process. You can email him at mike@dantudor.com, or view is other advice for college coaches at coachingsportstoday.com

Front Porch Thinking for College CoachesMonday, July 9th, 2018

by Mike Davenport, Coaching Sports Today

Years ago, the president of my college came to speak at an Athletic Department staff meeting.

A very sharp fellow and well spoken, he was wise about the ways of athletics in the college realm. (He had been one of the main administrators in the University of Maryland system during the Len Bias tragedy.)

He sprung an analogy on us that’s stuck with me to this day, and has prompted me to think differently about the job of a coach.

He referred to college sport teams as the “Front Porch” of an institution. And he suggested we think in those terms.

Your team as a front porch

He meant that the front porch sets the tone for the visitor for what they will find inside:

  • Messy porch—messy house
  • Welcoming front porch—welcoming house
  • Tidy, clean front porch—probably the same inside

Front-porch thinking helped me visualize how others outside an institution saw my school and what I did as a coach. Like who? Who might see, or use, your team as a front porch to a school? Well how about:

  • Recruits
  • Donors
  • Dignitaries
  • Community members
  • Journalists
  • Board members
  • Alums

How is your front porch viewed?

Here’s a simple exercise: What does your front porch look like to others?

Fire up your favorite search engine and look up your team. What results return? Dig down in your search, and read not only the content of the results, but also the context. If the results mentions your team in an article about high crime rates, well, maybe, just maybe, your porch is a tad dirty.

You might be surprised how people see your front porch, and what it tells them about what is inside.

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.


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


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.


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.

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