Dan Tudor

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Trust Over PriceMonday, June 22nd, 2015

542242_10201795155827901_994503587_nby Michael Cross, UltimateSportsInsider.com

Recruiting is a euphemism for sales, and sales isn’t for everyone. But we are ultimately all in sales – selling yourself, your institution and your program. Selling isn’t easy and you probably hear “no” many more times than you hear “yes.” People in sales often resort to price as a primary means to get a commitment. If you are selling a commodity (such as gasoline) price and location are a strong determinant because only the most sophisticated consumer can determine the difference between Mobil and Shell. You don’t need a high level of trust.

Two family purchasing decisions – cars and pet care – come to mind where trust is essential.

The other day I took our car for an oil change and new tires at Mike Miller Auto Park in Peoria, Illinois, a purchase that was going to approach $1000. Many people think there is no more expensive place to have this type of work done than the dealership. But Mike Miller’s service and relationship building is legendary. He’s given Green Bay Packers tickets to people who have purchased cars from him. He remembers birthdays. He is fair and honest. He is personally invested on a daily basis in making sure that the customer is always right and feels valued. Most importantly, he established TRUST from the day we purchased a car, when we left feeling great about the purchase rather than beaten into submission. Today we never even think of comparison shopping to save a couple dollars and the volume of people having work done at his dealership the day I went said we weren’t alone. In fact he singlehandedly saved the Cross Family as a customer for Hyundai after a horrific car purchasing experience at a counterpart dealer several years before that left us swearing we would NEVER buy another Hyundai.

The other example is Play All Day Doggie Day Care. We love our English Golden Retrievers, Jocelyn and Clara. We trust they are safe and happy when we travel. How do we know? When they first went to Play All Day, the dogs (and my wife and kids) were skittish. We had recently adopted them and they were older and a little shell-shocked from the transition into our home. To aid in their transition, the day care owner had both dogs stay at her house for multiple nights until everyone was comfortable with the new environment. She groups dogs by size and demeanor, has birthday treats, and posts daily facebook videos for the owners to see that they are having fun. Yes, it’s a little over the top and it costs a few dollars more – but the peace of mind is priceless. We would never go anywhere else.

So as you try to figure out how to get a recruit to commit focus on trust over price. In fact, if you are recruiting someone who is solely focused on where they can get the best deal, I’d encourage you to thoroughly evaluate their fit for your program. While college is a very expensive investment, the long term value of building trust with recruits and honoring your commitments when they are current athletes will provide the results you are seeking year after year and create a more enjoyable and differentiating recruiting approach. College and your team are more than a commodity – they are priceless opportunities where trust is paramount.

Michael Cross is an intercollegiate athletics consultant with an emphasis on athletic department evaluations and organizational culture development, as well as career development for coaches and administrators. You can read other similar posts and subscribe to his blog at UltimateSportsInsider.com.   You can contact him through LinkedIn or connect with him via Twitter @USinsider.

Beyond Exceptional Confidence for Your RecruitsMonday, April 27th, 2015

A recent family medical procedure found me on the medical campus of the University of Southern California in Los Angeles.

But this isn’t an article about medicine. It’s about confidence…and how some very good marketers instill that confidence in the people that buy their products or services.

If you spend any amount of time at USC hospital, it becomes very obvious, very quickly, what the market message is for the patients and family that get care at their facility.  And, the confidence that their message is meant to instill: At USC hospital, you will experience “Beyond Exceptional Medicine.”

Keck Medicine 1

And that message is everywhere.  EVERYWHERE.  If you stand at a certain point in their courtyard between buildings, you can see eight bright cardinal colored banners driving that message home. If you are a patient here, you are at a place that boasts “Beyond Exceptional Medicine”.
You know what I love about the message?  It’s bold. It goes “beyond” just claiming that they are competent; it makes that case that they are something greater than “exceptional”.  And, they aren’t shy about saying it often.

And therein lies the important lesson for college coaches who want to instill confidence in their recruits.

Confidence in you and your program is more important than a past history of success, your resume as a college coach, or your facilities.  How confident you appear to your prospect is key to long term recruiting success.

And, the research is there to support that idea.  Researcher Don Moore from Carnegie Mellon did a study highlighted in this outstanding article in Neuromarketing that shows confidence even trumps accurate facts about something when it comes to reaching an opinion:

In Moore’s experiment, volunteers were given cash for correctly guessing the weight of people from their photographs. In each of the eight rounds of the study, the guessers bought advice from one of four other volunteers. The guessers could see in advance how confident each of these advisers was, but not which weights they had opted for.

From the start, the more confident advisers found more buyers for their advice, and this caused the advisers to give answers that were more and more precise as the game progressed. This escalation in precision disappeared when guessers simply had to choose whether or not to buy the advice of a single adviser. In the later rounds, guessers tended to avoid advisers who had been wrong previously, but this effect was more than outweighed by the bias towards confidence.

The entire article is excellent. Take a moment to read it.

So, if making your prospect confident that you and your program is the best possible choice, I have one strong recommendation for you, along with three ideas that might jump-start that effort:

  • First, my strong recommendation: Stop being shy when it comes to why your prospect should choose you.  This is one of the top problems that plaque many of the coaches we begin work with as clients: They are incredibly nice individuals, and instinctively humble. Because of that, they are often hesitant to appear to be “bragging” that their program is clearly the best choice (especially when the numbers or their history doesn’t back that up). But as the research shows, that’s exactly the time when strong confidence is needed! State your case boldly (dare I say exceptionally?) and repeatedly. Your prospect is searching for coaches who seem to strong believe in what they’ve got going on with their program.  Will they find it when they are recruited by you?

Assuming you’re ready to accept that challenge, here are three recommendations I’d make to coaches who want to start making confidence a key take-away for their next class of prospects who receive their recruiting message:

  1. Actively communicate your confidence to your recruits. How do you do that now?  How are prospects coming away that you are confident in what you’re offering them? How regularly are you making statements about why you should be their obvious choice?  However you answer those three key questions, let me say this: Don’t wait for your prospects to connect the dots and come away with an “impression” on their own. Tell them what they should think about you and your program on a consistent basis, and do it with confidence.
  2. Don’t waffle.  Tell them what you agree with them on. Tell them where you see them heading down the wrong road. Outline what you like about them, but also tell them how you’re going address some of their weaknesses. Give opinions, and ask questions. You can do it in a polite way, of course, but I would advise any coach we are working with to be unflinching in their strong statements and opinions when it comes to the recruit they are speaking with.
  3. Repeat, repeat, repeat.  We’ve talked about consistency before, and the importance of that in creating the right “feeling” with your recruit. Well, part of that feeling you should be aiming for is confidence. One of the primary ways you achieve that is repetition. If you’re a hospital, you can do it with signage as far as the eye can see. If you’re a college coach, I’d suggest that you make sure you develop a plan for consistent, compelling communication. It works.

In your drive to make sure your prospects are confident in what you are offering, aim for something “beyond exceptional”. It’s the best way to get them to believe in you more than your competitor.

The best one-stop shop for great recruiting ideas like this? The answer is easy, Coach: The National Collegiate Recruiting Conference, coming up this June. You should reserve your seat today, Coach, and invest in yourself and your college coaching career.  Click here.

The New Technology Tool Some Basketball Coaches Can’t Live WithoutMonday, March 23rd, 2015

Larita Wilcher knows a problem when she see’s it. Years of experience as a college basketball recruiting coordinator does that to a person.

So when she ran across an issue she and her fellow coaches kept having to overcome, she set out to solve it.

“I used many scouting services and databases, but none gave the recruiter a platform to host schedules in a way that would allow them to manipulate the data”, says Wilcher.  “I also realized there was no central location that provided the schedules of those prospects that I needed, which meant that each year planning how we would efficiently use our recruiting days and coordinate it with the staff was a time consuming process.  Even when I had administrators and managers to help with compiling the schedules it became a static outdated piece once it was put into a spreadsheet.”

So after years of research and work, Wilcher launched Recruit Scheduling Solutions.

“It’s a solution for college coaches who value their time and efforts in recruiting”, says Wilcher.  “We assist them by providing a tool and service that keeps them organized and efficient managers of their time.  Our service of providing the playing schedules of their top prospects and the software to manage the information is the most innovative and interactive approach to recruiting, and it provides that data to them in one central online location.”

And high level coaches agree.

“RSS makes tracking and staying relevant with our recruits a snap”, says Louisville basketball coach Stephanie Norman.  In my opinion, it’s a must have in a college coach’s software library.”

Xavier coach Bryce McKey adds, “This service and tool has greatly helped our staff stay organized and has saved us countless hours of prep time.”

The service is affordable, as well.  Especially when coaches consider the time and wasted energy in tracking multiple recruits.  Annual subscriptions start at just $1,500 per year, making it one of the most cost-effective tools available for college coaches.

For a more detailed overview of what the service provides coaches, click here.

Featured Series: The ‘Miracle’ Behind Herb Brooks’s Miracle On IceMonday, September 1st, 2014

usa locker roomby Charlie Adams, StokeTheFireWithin.com

I had the opportunity this past week to sit in one of the most famous locker rooms in the history of United States sports. It was here in Lake Placid that on the night of February 22, 1980 coach Herb Brooks gave the historic pre game speech to his players. From this room they would walk out to the ice and take on the dynasty known as the Soviet Union hockey team.

Herb, who had been head coach at the University of Minnesota before getting the Olympic coaching job, took out a yellow card with notes he had made on it. Twenty young men looked to him for direction as 11,000 people chanted USA USA just above them in an arena that held about 7700.

He said, “You were born to be hockey players, each and every one of you. You were meant to be here tonight. This moment is yours….”

Having final say-so on the roster, Herb had basically recruited those 20 young men because he knew he had to have just the right mix to upset the Soviets and win gold. Herb had looked for players with a fire within and that destiny had appointed for them to be there that night. NHL experts had at least five college goalies ranked above Jim Craig, but Herb went with him because he was the right guy. Craig would stop 36 of 39 Soviet shots that night and shut them out in the 3rd and final period.

As you recruit, if you want to build a team that comes close to the greatness of that 1980 Olympic hockey team, look deep for those players that were born to play their sport. You want players that were meant to be at your college and that were meant to be coached and led by you. You want to recruit players that you can put in position to have their moment.

As I sat in that locker room in what is now Herb Brooks Arena in Lake Placid, NY, I thought about the process Herb went through to build that team and get them in position to upset the Soviets. What they did that night and in those Games was later named by experts to be greater than anything Jack Nicklaus, Michael Jordan, Carl Lewis, the New York Yankees of the 1920’s, Notre Dame football of the 1940’s, Magic Johnson or anyone of the 20th century.

It came to be because of how Herb put together that roster and how he was able to get the absolute best out of them. As you recruit players, one thing you may want to say is we don’t put greatness into people. We have to pull it out. That’s what Herb said and that is what he did.

When Herb gave his famous pre game speech here, he meant every word of it and his players believed him. He had been incredibly hard on them. Just outside this arena is a huge hill that Herb made them run up and down in full hockey gear during the Olympic  games. I tried to walk up it once and about passed out.

During his pre game speech he told them great moments come from great opportunities and that’s what they had their tonight.  That’s what they had EARNED there tonight.

As you recruit, you want the kind of kids that are going to pay the price and put in the effort to put themselves in position to earn a shot at a championships. They went out and found a way to beat the Soviets 4-3 and when they came back in this locker room about 3 hours later, they didn’t celebrate at first. They sat there and suddenly sang God Bless America over and over. Herb had put together a group of players that ‘got it’ that the name on the front of the jersey is a lot more important than the name on the back. Because they were a beautiful example of what a true team is all about, they made history that winter of 1980.

Charlie Adams reveals the secrets of HOW the 1980 US Olympic hockey team was able to stun the Soviets – who many considered the greatest hockey team of all time – and then win the gold medal in his seminar or keynote ‘More Than a Miracle!’ He works with college coaches and athletes as well as corporate clients to show them exactly how coach Herb Brooks was able to do it.

“‘More Than a Miracle’ is as spectacular of a sports motivational program as anything I have seen in 40 years.” Bobby Bayliss, Tennis College Hall of Fame/former Notre Dame coach

“Now I know how they did it. Thanks to Charlie, I have all kinds of ideas I can use this season. ‘More Than a Miracle’ is packed with tools.” Mike Lightfoot, NAIA Basketball Hall of Fame/Bethel College head coach

Charlie can be reached at charlie@stokethefirewithin.com(574) 807 2279 or at his site stokethefirewithin.com

Three New Ways to Persuade Your Next Class of ProspectsMonday, September 1st, 2014

You’ve scouted your recruit.  You’ve made contact with your recruit.

Now, you want to begin selling your recruit on the idea of coming to play for you and your program.

And that involves persuasion.

Persuasion isn’t the act of “tricking” someone, and it doesn’t mean twisting their arm until they just give-up and relent to your way of thinking.  Persuasion is the art of mixing equal parts logic and passion, and becoming impossible to say no to.  You need the carrot and the stick.

If you meet a successful recruiter, you’ll find that they’ve mastered that art.

So, what makes up a great persuasive argument that you can make with your next class of prospects?  Several research-based ingredients that I’ll bet you’ve never stopped to think about before:

People prefer cockiness.  It’s true, both in real life and in recruiting.  When looking to choose a coach to play for, our research clearly shows that athletes and their parents are desperately looking for a confident leader who can articulate a plan for not only for his or her program, but for their recruit as well.

Some of you reading this might object to the idea of being “cocky”.  I understand.  How about “insanely confident”?  And I’m talking about whether or not your record would back you up on it.  Recruits, in the middle of making this stressful decision, are looking for someone who they feel is confident about where their program is heading.  Stop saying “I think”, or “I believe” when you’re trying to make your case.  Replace it with “We will” and put some emotion behind it.

Want to do a better job of persuading your next class of prospects?  Put together a plan to demonstrate that you’re the logical choice by flashing your cocky side a little bit.

Figure out whether you need to talk faster or slower.    Did you know that it’s better to talk faster if your recruit is likely to disagree with you, or have doubts about your program?  That’s because it gives them less time to formulate their own counter-opinions, and make it more likely that they accept your “insanely confident” conversation points as truth  And, it also makes it less likely that their mind will wander and stop paying attention.

Are you talking to a recruit that is likely to agree with you, or is excited about you and your program?  You guessed it: Slow your rate of speech down.  (Want proof?  Here’s an insane amount of research that backs up the points we’re making here, Coach)

Being persuasive involves giving off the right “feel” to your recruit, and how they take in what you’re saying counts a lot as they evaluate you and your program.

Share the positives and the negatives.  Coaches that talk only about the positives associated with their school and their program are missing the boat.  This generation of kids (and their parents) are looking for coaches that are demonstrating honesty in the recruiting process.  As we’ve said in the past, it’s good to show your cracks to your prospects.

What many coaches miss as they put together a strategy for trying to persuade their recruits is the idea that kids and their parents are coming into the conversation with you only looking for the most exciting, most positive views of your program.  On the contrary: Many prospects are assuming that you are trying to hide something. Don’t lend credence to that notion by not revealing what you need to improve upon, or one or two things that are big improvement goals for you as their potential coach.

Selling involves persuasion, and persuasion is an art form that most coaches don’t put much energy into perfecting.  Before you begin speaking in-depth with your recruits, take these three proven persuasion-boosters and implement them into your conversation with this next class of recruits.

Need help with developing a persuasive story to tell your recruits?  The team of experts at Tudor Collegiate Strategies will help you take a research-based approach to answer that question, and work alongside you and your staff throughout the year to make sure your recruiting class is second to none. Click here to find out how we do it (or email Dan Tudor directly at dan@dantudor.com to talk with him about it)

7 Ways to Amp-Up Your Visual Recruiting MessageMonday, July 7th, 2014

When my wife’s cell phone suddenly quit working yesterday, I jumped at the chance to earn a few points and rush to the cell phone store to talk about a replacement and return as the conquering hero.

Back in the olden days, men would be expected to kill a buffalo to feed his family, or ride horseback to the  next state for the opportunity to work in a mine.  Now?  We alpha-males negotiate cell phone upgrades with high school aged cell phone sales reps. That family from Little House on the Prairie would be impressed, I’m sure.

Once I had completed the dangerous journey to the cell phone store and fended-off savage marauders for a pretty decent parking spot, I began my quest for an iPhone for my wife.

ATT1In the midst of negotiating with my sales representative, the inevitable discussion of the terms and the contract came up.  We husbands tend to hold onto our wallets a bit tighter than this phase of any new cell phone contract, so when the rep started to try to talk to me about the terms of the contract, I immediately began to tune him out.  It all sounded too good to be true.

We’d pay less than we are now?

att2

Yeah, right buddy.  We’d get a new phone and more data to use in our smartphone plan?  Please…do I have the word “sucker” written across my forehead?

I was alone in my thoughts and was immediately discounting what he was saying, not even paying attention to the important information he was going over with me (that my wife would have to live with for the next two years of her cell-phone-life.

Then it happened.

He turned the tables on me, and got me to see what he was talking about.  He wrote it out, and showed me what the plan would look like.  And, I believed it.

What he did is what I want every serious recruiter to start doing when they are talking with their prospects and families.  Most likely, it will occur on campus, but if it can somehow happen earlier on a home visit or via Skype or Google video chats, even better.

He started writing down what he was saying verbally.

Why is this such a powerful tool for college coaches to emulate?  Because most people you talk to are visual learners.  We need to be stimulated by the sound of someone’s voice, but also by sight.  Someone wants us to believe them?  Fine, prove it.  Show it to us.  Retail merchants rely on proven visual stimulation research to increase sales, and in a one-to-one selling (like recruiting, or cell phone sales) it is vitally important as well.

So, if you want to begin to use more visual stimulation in your direct communication with recruits, here are some simple but effective steps to make it happen:

  • Always sit alongside your prospect, not across the table from them.  When you’re sitting at your desk, you’re an authority figure that is probably trying to sell them something.  That is likely to put your prospect on the defensive.  Instead, sit next to them.  You want to collaborate with them as a potential future member of your team, not manipulate.  Creating that atmosphere starts with your body position.
  • Write down EVERY big point you’re trying to make.  We all lose track of a conversation easily, and this helps us keep focused on the main points you’re trying to make.  Assume, in every conversation, that they are pulling away from you.  It’s your job to constantly make sure that your recruit is understanding what you’re saying.
  • Ask questions regularly.  Not “yes” and “no” questions, but questions that probe to see what they are agreeing with and what they are disagreeing with.  Keep in mind that most kids, and their parents, find it far easier to talk about what they are concerned about, what they don’t like, and what they are worried about.  Make sure you’re getting that real time feedback from your prospects as you talk with them one-on-one in a conversation like the one I’m describing.
  • Assume they are not happy with part of what you’re telling them.  If you do that, it will automatically become your goal to search out and discover what exactly that is that might be a stumbling block in your effort to bring them to your program.  Never, ever assume that they are happy with what you are telling them.  I think there is great value in taking a defensive attitude in every recruiting battle you engage in.
  • Explain the details.  “The devil is in the details”, and we all know it.  So, when you open up and explain the why behind your plan for a recruit, we’re more likely to understand you and believe you.  Remember my initial hesitation about believing that we would pay less and get more data on our cell phone bill by upgrading the cell phone?  My skepticism vanished once he started writing out the side-by-side comparison of our current plan versus the proposed new plan.  How often do you write out the details of why you want a prospect right in front of them and their parents, Coach?
  • Ditch the brochures.  At best, they are a quick visual distraction that almost never factor into a recruit’s decision as to whether to become a part of a program.  At worst, they become a substitute for a coach who doesn’t want to do the small amount of extra work involved with writing out a plan in front of a recruit.  Your writing, in your own words, is far more effective than anything your college could print for you.  Please, Coach: Don’t rely on your brochures to sell your program.  If you saw how little they impacted your recruit’s final decision, it would depress you (if, that is, you are one of the coaches currently using brochures to sell your program to a prospect).
  • Ask for the sale.  If my cell phone sales representative had said, after doing a great job of walking me through the logic behind his plan for our account, “Do you want to talk this over with your wife and get back to me in a week or so?”, I might have taken him up on his offer.  We all like to delay decisions.  It allows us to defer a potentially wrong decision until “later”.  And, many coaches are happy to oblige because it delays a potential “no” just a little bit longer.  What have I seen work best?  If you want the prospect, and you walk them through why you see them succeeding in your program, complete the process by asking them for their commitment.  Most prospects are disappointed if you don’t ask them to take some kind of significant “next step” in your recruitment of them.  Please ask them if what you are telling them makes sense, and if they are feeling like they would be ready to commit.

There is power in sitting next to someone and visually outlining your plan for them, and writing down why it’s smart for them to be a part of what you’re building in your program.  There’s power in giving your prospect those notes you’ve written out for them, and letting them take it home with them (unlike your college’s lame brochure, your hand-written plan for them will be read over and over, and won’t be discarded after a few days).

My wife has her new iPhone as I write this article, and I have my new amazingly lower cell phone bill.  All because my sales representative told his story in a very engaging, logical manner.  I want to make sure you adjust your recruiting presentation moving forward, Coach.  If you do, I can assure you that you’re going to like the results!

As we enter into a new recruiting year, we’re committed to helping any coach who wants a more research-based, systematic approach to recruiting.  If you would like to find out more about how we work with other programs on a client basis, click here.

4 Ways To Add Structure In The OfficeSaturday, May 10th, 2014

by Mandy Green, Head Women’s Soccer Coach, The University of South Dakota

Having a mundane 9-5 job wasn’t for me.  I love my freedom to work when and how I choose as a College Coach.

The freedom and flexibility to come and go as I please is certainly nice.  But, what I found out the hard way is that allowing myself too much freedom in the office usually resulted in unproductive and much longer working days for me.

To be more productive than I have ever been, I had to create structure into my workday and life. When I had no real structure or routines, with no plan for what was going to get done and when, I ended up working about 4 hours more a day than I wanted to. I challenged myself to find a way to get the same amount of work done in 8 hours.

There are a lot of different ways to add structure to your day.  I will outline a few that have been important for me here.

Plan the Night Before

Having structure to my workday starts the night before.  I used to just get up in the morning try to“wing it” through the day.  Now I plan everything out before I leave the office or at home before I go to bed.  I review my priorities and what I feel are the most important levers that will move my program forward in some way.  Then I create a list of things I’d like to get done the next day. That way, when I get to work the next morning, I know exactly where to begin and what I need to get done.

Structure Your Ideal Work Week and Day.

When specifically during the day are you going to work on your recruiting? When are you specifically going to plan practice? When are you specifically going to work on administrative tasks? The more you can schedule these activities into your weekly and daily schedules, the easier it will be for you to know exactly what you should be doing at any time while you are working.

Have A Morning Routine With Email.

I found that what I do with my email first thing in the morning really makes or breaks how productive I am throughout the day.  Check out my post Get a Great Start To Your Day By Using Email Effectively for more tips.

Make A “Do-Not-Do” List

An important list that has helped keep me on track in the office is my Do-Not-Do List.

These lists have helped me remove a lot of the negatives from my work environment.  A few examples of things on my Do-Not-Do lists are: do not browse the internet, do not check my email continuously throughout the day, and do not answer random phone calls.

It is important to structure your day so that you can continually get things done and move forward with your program.

Adding structure to my workday became easy when I started treating, thinking about, and planning my workday just like I would plan a practice.  My practice and office plans are very similar in that I have a plan for what and when things will get done. I get there before anybody else so I can get set up, I pay attention to the clock and give myself a certain amount of time to do things, etc.

It was also easier to stay focused on what I was trying to get done when I remembered my “why”.

Getting my work done in less time frees up more of the day for me to spend it with my husband and kids, my friends, and even on my hobbies.  I have a picture of my kids on my desk as a friendly reminder to stick to the plan.  Looking at this picture helps keep me focused on getting my work done so when I go home, I can play with my kids having the peace of mind knowing I did something to move my program forward today.

What is your “why” coach?

Where can you be putting more structure into your day and week to help you stay on track so you can be even more successful with your program?

As long as you are in control of the structure of your day, you’ll always have freedom in your life.

Mandy Green has a Coaching Productivity Newsletter that goes out every other Sunday.  This newsletter is for coaches who have an email overload issue.  She shares methods or techniques that she is trying in an effort to process, manage, and keep track of recruiting emails better.  If you are interested in joining in on the conversation or if you have something to share please go to www.mandygreencps.com.  Opt in and she will send you her newsletter every week it goes out and you can get a FREE copy of the chapter in her Green Time Management For Coaches Workbook called Organize Your Recruiting.  

The Fist Fight Of CoachingSunday, February 2nd, 2014

by Mike Davenport, CoachingSportsToday.com

Saturday was damn exciting.

I stood in front of 90 coaches introducing speaker after speaker. Each speaker had a mission — to teach this roomful of super-hero, high-school coaches how to be better fighters.

Getting people to change is WHAT coaches do. But face it, most people don’t like to change. Most people are happy where they are.

But then one day a person wants to change. Maybe chasing a dream. Or a major health issue has arisen. Or a buddy dragged them to your sport’s orientation meeting. And they decide to change, but they can’t do it alone, so they need someone to help — someone like us, a coach.

FIGHT CLUB

Over the years, I’ve been in thousands of such fights. From big fights (“Hey coach, I want to make the Olympic team!”) to small fights (“Yo, could you help me lose a few pounds?”). There’s a knock on the door, and the person standing there says, “I’m going to a fight, and I want you to join me.”

I learned three things from being in these fights and I feel an overwhelming need to share because, Coach, whether you like it or not, you’re heading for a fight, and I want you to be ready for it.

#1) YOU MAY LOSE THE FIGHT BEFORE IT EVEN BEGINS

Internally, there is a push back to making a change. Steven Pressfield, in his great book The War Of Art, calls this the Resistance. The Resistance is what causes the fights.

The bigger the change, the greater the Resistance, the tougher the fight.

For instance, Jaclyn wants to learn the basics of a sport in a two-week summer evening program. A few small schedule changes, some later-than-normal dinners, a couple of trips to your gym/boathouse/pool/facility, and a few episodes of fear of trying something new. Not a big fight, just a small tussle, with small resistance.

On the other hand, training to make the Olympic team is like a fight to the death. There are hassles that impact every single part of an athlete’s life.“Yes, I know you are only 12 years old, but I want you to leave your family in Boston, move to Arizona, and train with us for the next two years.” Now we are talking one hell-of-a fight with ENORMOUS resistance.

Sometimes the resistance can be so strong the fight can be over before the first punch is thrown.

#2) DON’T GO TO A FIGHT EMPTY HANDED

My buddy Lee once told me, “Don’t bring a flyswatter when wrestling a gator.” His meaning? In a fight, come to win, and bring the right weapon. We, as coaches, have four main weapons in our arsenal.

  1. Vision. People fight for a vision. They overcome the Resistance when they have a vision in front of them that inspires them and provides meaning. A vision can be a powerful weapon in a fight.
  2. Coercion. “Your parents will be embarrassed if you don’t win,” is an example of coercion, and an example of a dangerous weapon, for the person using it. Coercion backfires more than it helps. In some people coercion might help overcome the Resistance but I’ve found that in only a few instances. I don’t use coercion.
  3. Fear/hate/loss. “If you don’t win, the other team will go to the championships,” is the weapon of loss. “We’ve always hated the Giants, and they hate you!”  is the hate-weapon. The fear-weapon sounds like, “If you lose, you will pay a terrible price our next practice!”These are extreme negative weapons, and if you use one of these to overcome the Resistance, to win a Fight, you stand the chance of burning bridges and leaving scars that may take a lifetime, or more, to heal.
  4. Love. This is the most powerful weapon there is to overcome the Resistance. The use of the love-weapon changes the entire perspective. When an athlete states, “I love my team/sport/competing” then the Resistance melts away, and the fight is already won.

#3) ALL TOO OFTEN COACHES UNDERESTIMATE THE FIGHT

I’ve been blindsided by the Fight while coaching. I didn’t see the Fight coming, or I thought it was over when it wasn’t, or the price of winning (or losing) the Fight was much greater than I imagined. I don’t need to put examples here, because if you coach you know what I mean. And if you are new to coaching, heads up.

#4) SIZE MAKES LITTLE DIFFERENCE IN A FIGHT

Friend Sarah Trowbridge always told me she was too small, especially to make an Olympic team. Sarah proved many people wrong in 2012, when she made the grand finals in the Women’s Double, at the London Olympics. She’s an example that in a Fight size doesn’t matter nearly as much as heart, love, and a dream.

SO SLUGGER …

I use the metaphor of fighting lightly, but it does represent well the level of intensity that we need to have in our coaching. From verbal black eyes to the figurative punch in the gut, coaching can feel like you’ve been in a brawl. The more you are ready for your Fight, the better you will do.

 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.

The Magical iPhone Sleep ButtonTuesday, January 28th, 2014

by Sean Devlin, Front Rush

So for iPhone users, it turns out that there is a productivity button that comes standard with the device. Its free, it doesn’t require any downloads, it’s amazing and I found it. The way I found it came from a sleepless night where I had an early morning flight. You know those nights. You try to get to bed early but it turns out that the one night you need sleep, it just won’t happen. And of course every single time I was just about to fall asleep that night, I would get a text message or an email and my device would vibrate and I would wake up. Then of course, when it seemed that it was finally going to happen, I got a phone call from an old friend and my sleepless night ended literally with no sleep.

So what is the button and why does it matter? Well, if you put your finger at the bottom of your screen and swipe up, a sub menu appears. At the top of the menu there is an icon of a moon and it is the ‘sleep’ or ‘do not disturb’ mode. Basically any text message, email, call, etc won’t cause your device to ring or vibrate or light up or anything. It’s not that you don’t get them, they just don’t make your phone do anything until you check them.

So after I found this button, I started hitting it before bed every night and my sleepless night became just a single historical event. Then when I’d wake up, I would turn the sleep mode off and go about business as usual. But then a weird thing happened. I forgot to turn it off. I didn’t get any calls, messages, emails or anything for hours. My phone didn’t ring and even though the messages came in, I was essentially unavailable and something even weirder happened. The things I intended to get done that day, got done. The normal, continuous distraction of my iPhone was irrelevant and productivity happened at my pace. Multi-tasking is a myth and I didn’t need to do it. Instead, I was singularly focused and knocking stuff out.

Then the iteration happened. Clearly you can’t keep your phone in sleep mode at all times…that defeats the purpose. Instead, what I do is I turn it on for an hour at a time. That hour is the productive hour where no distractions (at least from my phone) can occur. At the end of the hour, if I choose, I’ll turn it off and check my messages, email, or whatever. The reality is that less and less am I choosing to turn it off. Instead I am allocating times throughout the day to check my device instead of it continuously checking me. The result has been increased productivity through better focus and less distraction

Sean Devlin is the lead technical architect of the popular contact management database, Front Rush.  Yes, they can help you produce branded, graphic-rich email templates to use with your prospects.  But that’s just the tip of the giant Front Rush iceberg!  Visit Front Rush online for a complete rundown of their awesomeness, and find out why they are the #1 choice of college coaches around the country.

Don’t Veer For DeerSunday, November 17th, 2013

by Tyler Brandt, 7secondcoach.com

What does water going around a rock, hiking around the mountain instead of over it and swerving to miss a deer all have in common?

The path of least resistance!

But that’s not all they have in common, in those situations and many like them they also have the potential to create destruction in their wake. Water will cut through anything in its path as it goes around the rock. Adding hours, potentially days to a hike can be treacherous if it is not a planned part of the trip. 258 people are dead in my state because people chose to avoid a collision with a deer (path of least resistance) instead of attacking it head on – EVEN when all of the driving rules say DON’T VEER!! To often when we are not having the success we think we should be or want to have or a challenge arises suddenly, we VEER off our planned course. It is a natural reaction to attempt to avoid an interaction with a formidable force, however, staying on course usually brings a better result no matter what lays in front of you.

Athletes experience and learn early in their careers that executing a game plan yields success at a far greater pace than winging it or making it up as you go. As coaches, we spend the majority of our careers not just developing game plans but implementing and coordinating drills that will create the flawless execution of the game plan we’ve created. Collectively, a well developed plan by the coach and exemplary executed by the athlete delivers the greatest chance for success. Conversely, even when the plan is well conceived but the athlete deviates from the path, success is rarely seen and the collision will be with failure.

When you VEER off course, even because it seems like the right thing to do, it can have a catastrophic effect in the end. I have done and seen a lot of coaches, teachers and educational leaders come across a challenge, roadblock or obstacle and make drastic changes to the course they were on to try and compensate for the issue that popped up. Although you may take on some damage by facing a challenge head-on, the damage is often superficial rather then terminal. This was evident when I was a defensive coordinator and it was my job to take away the number one offensive threat. Getting the offense out of sync and changing their game plan was crucial to the teams success. One of my offensive coordinators had a saying – R.I.T.T.S.I., which stood for Run-It-Til-They-Stop-It. When he found a hole in the defense he would continue to exploit it (stay on course) until the defense change their game plan (VEERED off course) and then he would have them right where he wanted them – grasping for control!! No matter what sport you’re playing or coaching, it is imperative to stay on course.

Do not VEER off course, believe in the path that you have developed. Accept that challenges will always arise and that at face value you can tackle them head on and you will overcome whatever you come across with less damage to your athletes and team.

Tyler Brandt is a former college wrestling coach who now travels the nation speaking on coaching, motivation and professional performance.  For more information on Coach Brandt, and how he can work with your coaching staff or your team, visit his website at www.7secondcoach.com.

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