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The Most Important Person You Will Ever CoachMonday, December 10th, 2018

by Mike Davenport, Coaching Sports Today

Your reflection gives a perspective of how you look. 

Of how other people will see you.

Looking deeper into that mirror you will see the most important person you will ever coach.

Yep, it’s you.

That’s a foreign concept to some coaches. They are quick to structure a practice. Correct an issue. Devise a strategy. For athletes. But glacially slow to construct methods of improvement for themselves.

Why it that?

  • busy
  • tired
  • overwhelmed
  • frustrated

The list is long of why it happens. “It” being coaches not taking care of themselves. Ignoring their own program-of-development.

Coach Yourself

I’ve been there, and done it.

And I can tell you that not coaching yourself will reduce your effectiveness as a coach—cut short your tenure.

And an interesting point of coaching is we often believe the athletes respond mostly to words—that’s how we get our messages across to them. Right?

Nope. Athletes are perceptive and they get coaching messages from what they see, as much, if not more so, than from what they hear.

So the coach who:

  • comes to practice tired, yawning, without enough sleep, is sending a message to his team that they see loud and clear
  • the coach who eats poorly, out of shape, overweight, sets an example

It comes down to this…Coach, you have to coach yourself.

You are the most important person. As they say on the airplane, “Adults, put your mask on first…”

Stop Trying to Become a Better College Coach!Monday, November 12th, 2018

by Mike Davenport, Coaching Sports Today

Why is it that coaches are rarely formally taught?

  • Drivers are taught
  • Doctors are taught
  • Teachers are taught

But college coaches?


Coaches are rarely formally taught — especially in the US. (Did you know that the United States is one of the few developed countries that does NOT have a national coaching education program?)

So what’s a coach to do, to get better?

Here are a few suggestions:

A) Find a dang good mentor. One who will care and feed your improvement-hunger.

B) Create a positive learning environment. You won’t learn or develop in a negative place. That stifles growth, and development. So work in a positive place, or create a positive place, or go find a positive place if yours is negative.

C) Take charge of your learning. If you want to get better, you are in charge of making that happen. The great coaches did not get that way by hanging around on their phone. They took charge and went after their development. Be self-directed. Every-Single-Day dedicate time to developing your skills.

D) Take action. This is different than taking charge, in that you have to actually do things, hard things, difficult things to get better. Learning to be a better coach can be a dirty road to run. My first years of coaching were long hours in a poorly-light mosquito-filled boathouse learning how to adjust rowing equipment. Hours-of-it. That was action, and it paid off.

E) Get over not being born a coach. Straight-up, you were not born a coach. Bill George, in his book Authentic Leadership, wrote, “. . . leaders are not born that way. Many people have natural leadership gifts, but they have to develop them fully to become outstanding leaders.” So get over losing, making mistakes, dumb decisions, wrong calls, bad substitutions, blah, blah, blah. And go back to B, C, D.

F) Read books. Yes read books. Make notes. Kindle or hard copy, who cares. Reach for books and read them. Somebody is sharing their gift with you, their knowledge. Grab it and go (see L below).

G) Watch videos. See F.

H) Ask countless questions. Be annoying as heck with your questions. Ask, ask, ask. You will know when to stop asking, or you will be told to stop asking. That’s usually when you most need to ask questions.

I) Teach others (sounds counterintuitive but teaching is a great way to learn). Really, it is.

J) Dedicate yourself. Point blank:

  • When you are tired – develop.
  • When you are hunger – develop.
  • When you lose – develop
  • When you win – develop
  • When you are “whatever” – develop
  • And when you have developed your skills – develop even more.

K) Go Way Deep. Deep-learning makes all the difference when you want to be a better coach. Here’s what I mean. You buy a book from Amazon. Pick it up one day, skim through it. Then file it. That is shallow learning. Deep learning is different.

Years ago there was a copy of Napoleon Hill’s Think And Get Rich on my desk. You might have one kicking around, and you might even have read it. But I went deeper than just reading it:

  • I made notes all through the book
  • I reread the book focusing specifically on those notes
  • I copied those notes onto two pages of paper
  • I distilled those notes down into one sentence, “You CAN become what you think you CAN become.”
  • I put together a quick idea for a college course based on that premise
  • I pitched it to a dean at my college
  • He accepted it, and it become a college course entitled, A World of Wisdom from Mistakes and Failures.

That might not be your cuppa tea. I get that. But can you see how deep that went? Even now, years later, I can still see pages from that book in my mind, and I revert back to Hill’s ideas quite often.

Could you do something deeper with a book you picked up about your sport? Or about coaching? Teaching? How about from that recent YouTuber you just watched (forget the screaming sheep one, how about the latest from Sir Ken Robinson. Oh, please, if you have 18 minutes go watch this. Your future-self will thank you!) Or your favorite podcast.

With a laser-like focus on deeper learning you could become a better coach. Caution — you’ll get strange looks, and questions, and statements like, “What the heck are you doing?” Ignore all of that.

Let them go back to their shallow-learning while you’re putting a dent in your Universe.

L) Stop trying to become a better sports coach. Why would I tell you that? Oh, I’m NOT.

I heard an AD say that once — to a coach who was asking tons of questions, and pushing the improvement envelop. He told him, “Stop trying to become a better sports coach. And then I’ll fire you. And hire someone else.” Reverse psychology.

This is not an exhaustive list, there’s many more things you can do. I rattled this off in 30 minutes. But here’s the catch…will you, do you, do any of them?

If so, YES! If not, why not?

PS: I’m trying to help 1000 coaches improve their experience. If you enjoyed this blast are you brave enough to share it with one person? I bet you are ; )

What Is Your College Coaching Legacy Going to Be?Tuesday, November 6th, 2018

by Mike Davenport, Coaching Sports Today

Have you thought about it—your legacy? And what it will be??

(Hint–if you’re like most coaches you have NOT.)

What will people say about you when you stop coaching?

(Another hint–if you’re like most coaches you will say “I don’t care! But you WILL care.)

I’ve recently retired from full-time coaching, after 36 years. And during that time, I can’t remember ever thinking of my “coaching legacy.”

And if I did, I’m sure I dismissed it as a fantasy of the egotistical.

I was wrong.

Now that I’m mostly done coaching, that legacy has value to me.

Y’know, it IS an egotistical thing.

But deep down, thinking about your coaching legacy can help you be a better coach.

To make better decisions.

Even be a better human being.

What Are They Saying

If you were a fly on the wall, and people were talking about you, would they be saying:

  • Well, Coach tried hard
  • He cared
  • Coach was a magician
  • He understood what I went through
  • My life so much better because of Coach 

Or comments like these:

  • Coach was lazy
  • He cared only about winning
  • Coach never tried new stuff
  • He never understood me
  • My health/life is worse because of him

Here’s a truth you need to hear

You are going to leave a coaching legacy. One way or another.

Things will be said about you.

After one day or after thirty years—the length of time you coach does not matter.

What do you want them to say?

How do you want to be remembered?

It’s a long road to a good coaching legacy

Coaching is hard.

Okay, it’s not working-in-a-coal-mine hard, or teaching-quantum-physics hard…

But coaching does have a level of difficulty that can sway a coach toward a bad legacy.

And leaving a legacy you and your family are happy with takes hard work.

A great car chase won’t atone for two hours of a lousy movie.

Just as one big win for a coach does NOT erase a season of abusive, negative behavior.

Your legacy is a comprehensive exam in the making.

Every interaction as a coach matters.

Right now—grab paper, write your legacy down, and start building.

It will (and does) matter.

Want more of Dr. Davenport’s insights and tips for developing your coaching career the right way? Visit www.coachingsportstoday.com, or email Mike at mike@dantudor.com

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!

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