Dan Tudor

Join The Newsletter and Stay Up To Date!

Text Size Increase Decrease

11 Simple Steps For Finding And Keeping Amazing PeopleMonday, September 29th, 2014

by Mike Davenport, CoachingSportsToday.com

This IS rocket science, right here.

See, rocket science is about putting things together that take off to great heights, or explode. That’s what this is all about.

There is this special thing about coaching — it doesn’t matter how good a coach you are, if you want to achieve great heights you need to surround yourself with Amazing People.

And not just athletes.

The same goes for assistant coaches, volunteers, organizers, trainers, leaders, etc. Amazing People make the difference.


In fact, anywhere people are involved, THEY are often the limiting factor. You want great results? Amazing People will get you closer to your dream.

To me, one story that enforces this is Apollo 13. Three astronauts came home because Amazing People did Amazing Things. (That what Jim Lovell told me when I met him years ago.)

The Amazing Puzzle

But finding, and then keeping, Amazing People is like a jig-saw puzzle, with lots of small moving pieces. And it is not easy.

For my team, every year, I have to do this find-and-keep puzzle process. It can be crazy, daunting, exhausting but it is worth every single second of BST (blood, sweat, and trauma).

I’ve teased out how we do it into 11 simple steps.

The first eight focus on finding Amazing People and the last three on keeping said Amazing.

8 Simple Steps For FINDING Amazing People

  1. Assess What Amazing You Need. Assessing what you need is a step often skipped. Several years ago I realized that I didn’t need JUST an assistant coach, I needed an Amazing Assistant. One who would be great at the things I was terrible at. Knowing that was what I needed became instrumental in us hiring our current assistant who has been hands down Amazing.
  2. What Do You Have To Offer? Amazing people come with a price tag. What are you prepared to pay? Are there financial incentives, growth opportunities, special arrangements that would make it enticing? Knowing up front can reduce mis-steps and missed opportunities later.
  3. Where Does Your Amazing Hang? Where do your future Amazing People hang out? That’s wicked critical to know. If you’re looking for an amazing football recruit, he’s probably not reading “Ice Hockey Weekly.” Amazing rowing coaches don’t usually go to football conventions. SIDs might be where sport statistics live. One thing I’ve learned is that Amazing People tend to hang with other Amazing People (hold that thought for 30 seconds.)
  4. Announce To Amazing. When you know what you are looking for, and where they hang, let them know you are looking. Real straight, referrals from other Amazing People have worked out better than any other ad, agency, or systematic method. I’m not saying those things won’t work for you, I’ve just had great success with asking and listening to other Amazings.
  5. Communicate. Announce and communicate, it sounds simple, right? And it is with Amazing People. Communicating is one thing that makes them Amazing. Something to keep in mind as you move ahead.
  6. Interview.Sit down (or stand, or walk, or run) and have a good talk. In person. Digital is fine for opening the door, but live, face-to-face, look-in-their eyes talks are way better.
  7. Make An Offer.You already know what you can offer, from Step 2, so this is the easiest step of them all.
  8. Seal The Deal. With agreement in the air, take the final step. Sign the papers, shake the hands, or get the deposits. Now’s the time to make whatever needs to happen to happen.

3 Simple Steps For KEEPING Amazing People

The easy part is over. Once you’ve got em, you need to keep em.


Well, there are three avenues that I’m aware of.

  1. Relate.There’s a great book I’ll recommend in a second. A thought-shifter. It’s called, Love ‘Em or Lose ‘Em.The authors recommend a multitude of steps to keep Amazing People.

Here’s several:

  • Show respect
  • Energize the job
  • Share information
  • Don’t be a jerk
  • Be a mentor
  • Encourage passion in them
  • Reward and praise
  • Give them space
  • Tell the truth
  • Listen to them
  • Sustain wellness
  • Yield power

All good advice, especially if you dig down into it. (You can find the book right here.) Ah but there’s more.

10.Get Out Of The Way. I’ve learned this the hard way … when you work with Amazing, let Amazing work. I know it’s hard to get out of the way, to delegate, yield. Get over it. Do it.

11. Help Them Grow.All the Amazing People I’ve ever met had at least this in common, they wanted to keep getting more amazing. Help them do that and you increase the chances they’ll stay. Stifle the growth and you will need to start this whole process over again.

What’s Your Excuse?

These tips are not magical, mystical, or complicated. In fact, you could consider them downright boring. However, applying these simple steps could mean attracting and retaining people who can help you achieve your dreams. Look at is this way: You’ve invested a lot to get where you are today. A little more investment might pay off in amazing ways.



Making Sure Your Team Isn’t Licking the Taco ShellsTuesday, September 10th, 2013

A national restaurant power like Taco Bell employs smart, well-educated people to craft a branding message that results in increased business and loyalty to their menu and story.  Literally tens of millions of dollars of carefully crafted advertising is dedicated to telling this story every year, in just the right way and with just the right balance of entertainment and information.

And then a minimum wage employee licks the tacos shells. Or, across the street at Dominos, they’re doing horrible things to your pizza.

All of that marketing expertise, all of the money, and all of the carefully crafted marketing messages…they’re down the drain.  All because of a kid and his friends killing time with a cell phone camera.

In the same way that fast food restaurants try to clamp down on their minimum wage employees so that they don’t ruin the marketing strategy and brand name of the corporations they work for, colleges and coaches tend to try to clamp down on their student-athletes.  Many athletic departments view them as liabilities waiting to happen in the recruiting process (“What if they take that recruit to the frat party?”  “How do we know what they’re going to be doing for those ten hours overnight?”  “What if they tell the prospect about what happened at practice the other day?”).

And then there’s the military.  They know that the best way to make peace with a local population and establish roots in a new territory is through the efforts of soldiers – the lowest paid, most junior-ranking members of the military.  Handing out candy, talking to local children, helping to re-build a school…those things are the basis of a theory called Krulak’s Law, named for Marine Corps Com­man­dant Gen­eral Charles C. Kru­lak. He talked about it in a 1999 arti­cle titled, The Strate­gic Cor­po­ral:

“In many cases, the indi­vid­ual Marine will be the most con­spic­u­ous sym­bol of Amer­i­can for­eign pol­icy and will poten­tially influ­ence not only the imme­di­ate tac­ti­cal sit­u­a­tion, but the oper­a­tional and strate­gic lev­els as well. His actions, there­fore, will directly impact the out­come of the larger oper­a­tion; and he will become, as the title of this arti­cle sug­gests – the Strate­gic Corporal.”

Which brings us to you, Coach.  How are you using your army of “boots on the ground” – your team – to recruit your next class of athletes?

So much of it depends on the quality and individual personality skill-sets of your team that it is virtually impossible for me to outline a four point one-size-fits-all plan that will work for every coach in every situation.  That said, there are some general principles and key questions I think are important to talk about so that coaches can craft their own approach in how they use their current team to recruit their future team.

The first point I’ll make is that, in my opinion, not using or limiting your current team of student-athletes in the recruiting process is a mistake.  That goes beyond a personal opinion, and really points to the research which clearly points to the interaction with your team being one of the biggest contributors to your “brand” in the eyes of a recruit.  Want to overcome subpar facilities and a town that isn’t all that exciting on a Saturday night?  Get them to fall in love with the guys on your team.  Want to see nine months of intense recruiting efforts go up in smoke in a matter of seconds?  Let them spend time with that jaded, dissatisfied Senior who you just benched (trust me, they have no problem with licking the taco shells in front of one of your recruits).

It’s your job as a college coach to not only put together great game plans for competitive success, but also great game plans to build your team and make them part of this crucial recruiting effort you engage in each and every year.  To do that, I feel one of your primary responsibilities is to understand what’s going on with your team personally, from top to bottom.  Unlike the starting line-up you’ll take into a competitive contest, every team member matters when it comes to your recruiting effort.

One of the key questions each coach needs to address in formulating a strategy for recruiting interactions with their teams is who will make up that primary contact – underclassmen or your upperclassmen?  Without a doubt, we have seen underclassmen make a bigger impact in the process versus their older counterparts.  They are closer in age to your recruits (who seem to get younger and younger every year), which is important.  Your recruits want to know who they will be competing with – in fact, we’ve heard numerous college athletes look back at their own recruiting process and point out how irrelevant meeting and hanging-out with a team’s Juniors and Seniors is.  Why?  It’s pretty basic: They know those older athletes won’t be around when they finally join your team.  Why have them spend time with those older student-athetes?

Another key question for  a coach to answer is how to incorporate time with student-athletes in their recruit’s visit schedule to campus.  From what I’ve seen play out in thousands of recruiting scenarios, more time with your younger athletes is always going to be better than less time.  Even if it means fewer meetings with older men in bow ties in an ivy covered building on the other side of campus?  Especially if it means fewer of those meetings!  Your success rate for recruiting visits will rise proportionally with the amount of time you allow your recruits to just hang out with your current team.

But what about those disaster scenarios you have looping through your mind as a college coach who is leery of handing over so much power to a group of new teenagers who have been on campus a few weeks or a few months?  The biggest piece of advice I can give you as a coach that would make you feel more at ease is to encourage you to meet with your team as soon as possible, standing in front of them with a white board and a dry erase marker, and have them establish what they should do with a recruit, what they shouldn’t do with a recruit, and what they will do to keep each other accountable.  Have them establish their own rules of what gets talked about and what stays private, as well as where they should and should not take a visiting prospect.

Coaches who have gone through this exercise know that it’s extremely effective, and will actually make your team more enthusiastic about hosting visits – especially if you convey the idea that they get a voice in the process.  Let them know you want their two cents at the end of the visit to determine whether or not you should recruit that athlete.  Of course, your vote trumps their opinion.  But I will say that in my experience, your team is usually right on the money when it comes to how that recruit will fit in to your current team culture.  Pay attention to them, Coach…they instinctively know who’s right for your team.

Whatever rules you decide to establish, understand that your team has incredible power to promote – or irreversibly damage – your brand.  As the chief architect of that brand, I suggest you devote time to establishing the right culture and message in conjunction with your team.  If you do, you’ll like the results.

Building Traditions: What Is Your Selling Point?Monday, January 7th, 2013

by Ellen Sawin, NCSA College Relations

College sports are home to some of the nation’s most famous traditions: Wisconsin football fans “Jumping Around” before the 4th quarter, Florida fans “Gator Chomping” at their opponents, the Fighting Irish slapping their “Play Like A Champion” sign as they take to the field, and so on. High school athletes dream of playing for a team with a tradition and fan base like these. But less than 1% will realize that dream. One school is changing that…

Picture this:

A gym packed to capacity with college kids and community members lining the court. Everyone is dressed in eccentric and hilarious outfits.  And the crowd is perfectly still and dead silent. Two teams take to the court and nothing changes. Play begins and the crowd remains silent. Both teams put points on the board, and the crowd doesn’t make a sound. Then, the home team scores their 10th point… and suddenly the gym erupts in absolute madness.

Sounds like a top tier Division I athletic event, but this occurs at Taylor University, a small NAIA school in Upland, Indiana. It’s their annual Silent Night Game (see a video version here). The tradition originated in the early 1990s and goes well beyond silence and then cheering at the 10th point. The entire crowd also comes together throughout the game for other crazy events, including this year’s half-time dance to “Gangnam Style,” where fans danced right onto the court. And the game concludes with the crowd singing the famous Christmas carol, Silent Night.

Even though Taylor University isn’t the nation’s largest or most well-known University, news and video of this event is spreading like wild fire, garnering them national notoriety. They’re changing the stakes in the recruiting game. They’ve proven that a team from any level can make headlines and develop a tradition of value to their university, athletes, fans and community.

Taylor’s tradition gives a handful of the more than 99% of high school athletes who won’t play at the Division I level, the opportunity to realize their dream of playing in front of a sellout, loyal, and involved crowd. This is a valuable selling point when recruiting high school athletes.


How to Know What to Ask to Find the Right FitMonday, February 8th, 2010

The information you are trying to access is reserved for our Clients and Premium Members. Please log in.

  • Not a member? Click here to signup.