Players Feed Off Of Their Coach's Energy

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Players Feed Off Of Their Coach's Energy

It’s week four of basketball pre-season, two more weeks to go before game one of the 2019-20 season!

How is the team shaping up coach?

How is your energy?  Are you getting seven to eight hours of sleep per night? 

Are you staying hydrated -  and not with hops or pops?!

Oh, by the way, how is your food intake? 

Just checking-in on you coach.

Energy

Your energy both physically and mentally is crucial as your team feeds off it.

We ask our players to be mindful of taking care of their mind and body - however when it comes to us we think we have this incredible body that can run without the right maintenance. 

When your body is deprived of sleep you are at risk of making poor decisions which lead to poor outcomes.  Sleep deprivation over the course of time can effect your concentration and moods and you are likely to become agitated at every little thing.

This type of behavior will have a negative impact on your communication with your players. 

Touch Points

Every interaction you have with your players is an important touch point - a powerful leadership/coaching connection that reveals who you are.  Each interaction you have with your players is an opportunity to make an ordinary moment into a special one.

What you say, how you say it and how you make your players feel can influence, inspire and shape the way your players respond to you.  Your body language, facial expressions, and tone of voice, as well as quality of text messages and level of engagement in a teaching point or conversation are just some of the many touch points at your disposal every day.

Being mindful of these and other touch points is especially critical in today’s sports environment.  

In recent years coaches have been accused of verbally abusing their players and creating toxic environments.  You must be extremely mindful of their communication with their athletes as they can easily misinterpret what you are saying.

Communication

According to psychology professor Albert Mehrabian:

Only 7% of what we communicate consists of the literal content of the message.  The use of one’s voice, such as tone, intonation and volume, take up 38% and as much as 55% communication consists of body language.

This is an important reason why coaches need to be fresh and on guard.  When you are not attentive or sharp you can become sloppy with your words.  Your body language sends a powerful message to your players and staff and can impact the training session negatively or positively.  What impression do want to send your players and staff?

Self Awareness

To know thyself!  Being self aware is to have the capacity to tune into your own emotions and how your emotions affect you, your performance and your players performance.  How in-tune are you with your emotions?

Emotional Self-Awareness competency predicts your overall success at work.  Research done by Korn Ferry Hay Group found that 92% of leaders skilled at the Emotional Self-Awareness competency had high energy and high performance teams. In contrast, leaders with low self-awareness created negative climates at work.

What kind of climate do you want to create? Remember those around you feed off your energy!

Being mindful is a way to enhance your self-awareness capabilities by helping you develop the ability to monitor and understand emotions as they arise.

With practice, recruiting and signing date close by, you are stretched and stressed.  Ironically, this is actually the time that you build your physical and mental fortitude so you can sustain the required energy and physical and mental balance needed as the season progresses. 

You want to go into practice or on a recruiting visit energized, relaxed and in a good mood.  If you want your players to be energized and inspired, you must energize and inspire them.  If you want your recruits to be excited about your program, do the same.  Remember, you have control over your touch points.  Each touch point is your chance to make a great impression!

Each and every one of us brings energy to our co-workers, loved ones, and even the stranger in line behind us at the grocery store.  It would serve us all well to realize that the energy we radiate affects others' lives, and we need to be responsible for it.

Namaste,

Cathy

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Six Keys to a Coach's Successful Season

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Six Keys to a Coach's Successful Season

(We’ve put together a five-part series to help the coach get in the right mindset to plan, teach, coach, lead, inspire, and fulfill a successful basketball season.)

Basketball season is right around the corner, which means every basketball coach I know is gearing up for preseason or just getting going.

We are too.

We’re spending more time thinking specifically about basketball and revisiting some of our favorite coaches (virtually—we are reading and watching their stuff!) players and teams.

In doing so we came across this quote from a 2017 article on coaching in the NBA:

“Some players take losses to heart, to be sure. But coaches wear them like a woolen coat. Numerous coaches have spoken of walking the streets in their home cities after especially grueling losses, replaying key moments repeatedly in their minds.”

Oh man, we remember that feeling! 

The stress came from different directions, the decisions seemed endless and losing, well losing sucked.  But looking from a longer lens, could the pressure have been managed in a way that reduced stress and added if not joy, peace?  Or better yet, equanimity.

And equanimity matters right?

“According to the Oxford English Dictionary, it means “calmness and composure, especially in a difficult situation”—though that general definition doesn’t capture the true essence of this powerful meta-virtue.” (themindfulword)

We are all energy beings and players feed off their coach’s energy. 

Phil Jackson was one of the most calm and collected coaches in the game.  He would sit on the sidelines, as cool as the other side of the pillow, even under immense pressure.  This translated to his team taking on that same persona.

 Teams feed off of their leader; if their leader demonstrates a “we got this” mentality, it’s destined to rub off on the players.

So, why would we bring it up now when everyone is feeling the excitement of the beginning? 

Coaches are getting prepared for the players to show up at the gym on the first day.  Each hopeful her/his players will be prepared and ready to go.  Certain that this is the year that it will all come together and dreams will be achieved.

Well we are with you coach. 

But this is precisely the time to prepare yourself—you the coach—for the totality of a college season.  The length, the long days, the player management, teaching, film, decisions—big and small—and results, the highs and the lows. 

You want to be ready to handle it with the cool of Jackson while bringing the energy of Texas A & M’s Buzz Williams the warmth and calmness of Brad Stevens and the decision making prowess of University of South Carolina’s Dawn Staley.

How prepared are you right now to attend to yourself, to manage your own emotions, to deal with stress and maintain a healthy lifestyle?  We want you to think about it now and not when you find yourself living in the middle of the whirlwind. 

Ask yourself:

Are you ready?  Do you have a plan to stay healthy, energized, focused and balanced through the season?  If so, awesome.  You may find a tip or two below that you can add into your regimen. 

If not, read on and consider if you can create the plan now or at least add in a few habits that will be of help.

Because no matter how excited you are right now, you know the season brings stress, long hours of work, and the pain of loss along the highs of winning. 

So, let’s talk about a few things you can start right now to help through the season:

Put Exercise on Your Schedule:

Remember, standing on a court is not exercise.  Standing in a weight room is not exercise. Standing at the front of the meeting room is not exercise.  Despite the fact that all three can be tiring leaving you feeling as if you are exercising.

So, how will you make sure you make time to do cardio for 30 minutes a day and lift a couple days a week?  Or, if not cardio and lifting how about trying something that will build your physical strength while also bringing about more mindfulness.

The “Zen Master” Phil Jackson was known to be a yoga practitioner,  but did you know legendary Duke Coach Mike Krzyzewski “Coach K” Victor Cruz, New Zealand All Blacks, rugby team and LeBron James also has done a downward dog or two?  James credits yoga as the catalyst for his incredible stamina.  The New Zealand All Blacks likes the relaxing aspect of yoga and doing visualization of the game ahead. 

Whichever of these you choose we encourage you to put it on your calendar and honor the commitment.  

Even if your actual exercising ends up shorter than you intended, it is a good habit to maintain. 

Schedule it.  Do it.  Do something.

Exercise, it will give you energy.

Sleep:

A coach needs her/his rest just like an athlete.

According to Dr. Steven Feinsilver, the director of Center of Sleep Medicine at Mt. Sinai School of Medicine in New York City.  Sleep deprivation leads to depression, high blood pressure, weight gain and heart disease.

So, set a time to get to bed regardless of what is on your agenda. 

Stick to the schedule and aim for eight hours a night.  Seven hours is your minimum.

We know this feels impossible once you get into the season and winning and losing, but you can commit to this through preseason.  Try it and see how much better you feel. 

One of the many benefits of sleep in clear thinking.  See if you are more effective?  More energetic?  More productive? 

 As Chris Barnes says in an HBR article,  “If we don’t get enough sleep, we’re less likely to feel positive and less able to manage or fake our moods; it’s very difficult to pull ourselves out of an insomnia-induced funk.  Furthermore, leaders who discount the value of sleep can negatively impact not just emotions but also behaviors on their teams."

Positive results over the next three weeks will provide motivation and evidence that sleep helps during your season.

Hydrate:

Drink plenty or water, less soda, and no alcohol. 

It will make a huge difference in your hydration, your sleep and your energy levels.

Dropping alcohol is one of the quickest ways to increase your productivity. 

 Alcohol is a mind altering substance, it changes the way you think and feel and influences how you act.  Alcohol can make it hard for you to think clearly and make good decisions.  You may miss it at first, but you will love the increased energy and restful sleep at night. 

You might even drop a few pounds.

It may feel like soda is a jolt of caffeine but sugar brings highs and lows. 

Eat well:

You probably have thought a lot about what your athletes will be eating this preseason.  That's good! 

It means you will have healthy food available to you. 

Just don't eat the same quantity as the players.  Said with a smile.

Avoid desserts and unhealthy or fake-healthy snacks.

Self Awareness

Highly self-aware individuals are able to understand what they are feeling moment by moment. This makes it possible for them to be aware of how emotion is affecting them before they take action. 

We already mentioned yoga, and meditation provides space, but what about journaling about your own process and not just the team? 

Peter Drucker said, “Follow effective action with quiet reflection. From the quiet reflection will come even more effective action.

Stay connected

Stay connected to close friends and family who are not a part of the sport.  Just a few minutes a day will widen your perspective and add a different dimension to your thinking. 

You’ll be reminded there is more happening then just basketball and that many people love you regardless of the score.

One last thought, the tendency to ignore our own health during season is universal.

As one NBA coach said

“We’re all told what to do, but we don’t do it,” one coach said Sunday.  “We’re all told we have to eat healthy, we have to exercise and we have to get our sleep.  All of us.  Every coach.  This is not like, ‘oh, wow, I never thought of that.’  But it’s hard to do it.”

We know it’s hard.  Especially when the season really gets going.  So, prepare and do your best.  

Be kind to yourself when your habits slip, but try to get back to good habits.  Like in all learning, progress isn’t linear. 

But ask yourself: What would be the difference in your season if you changed just one or two of these things?

Good luck this season!

Co-authored by Cathy Andruzzi and Marcia McDermott

Cathy Andruzzi writes at Druzz News.  You can follow Cathy on Twitter @CathyAndruzzi, Instagram at coachdruzz and LinkedIn

Marcia McDermott writes at The Coaching Conversation.  You can follow Marcia on Twitter @SoccerChicago and Instagram at coachconversation.

A shorter version of this article was included at The Coaching Conversation.

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Core Values Win Conference Championships

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Core Values Win Conference Championships

(In my August 26 post I wrote about Ways Teams Live Their Core Values.  Core values play a pivotal role in shaping the team’s values-based culture and need to be established and lived before a desired culture comes to fruition).  

Is your team living their Core Values?

It is mid-September and your team (soccer-field hockey-volleyball) is getting ready to begin conference play.

How is your team doing? 

What is the culture of your team?  

Are you pleased with how things are going?

In Organizational Culture and Leadership Edgar Schein says:  “Culture is a pattern of shared basic assumptions learned by a group as it solved problems of external adaptation and internal integration, that has worked well enough to be considered valid and, therefore, to be taught to new members as the correct way to perceive, think, and feel in relation to those problems.”

Think about that for a second:  Shared assumptions, worked well, taught to new members, correct way to perceive and think and feel.

You can see why teams with strong cultures outperform other teams!

When coaches and players feel safe and are sincere and speak from the heart, culture begins to transform.  A strong culture encourages teamwork and innovation.  It breeds hunger and passion.  

A strong culture is the social glue that holds the team together. 

The daily behavior of coaches and athletes continuously create and recreate the culture of the program.  The potential to create an authentic culture lies in the coach’s ability to communicate a clear vision for how every athlete plays a role in the team.  

Are you communicating a clear vision?

Your team is paying attention to what and how you are communicating.  So, are you telling them specifically where you intend to go and how you all will get there? Is the team’s culture, your expectations, standards, and values clear? 

If so, as you reach this critical point— conference play starting!— your team will be prepared to work in concert to implement your vision.

How your team works together,  their habits and alignment of execution is a critical component of develop a dynamic team culture. Culture works in concert with your program’s strategy and strategy provides direction for the program’s operation.  

Building a dynamic team culture requires time, commitment, planning and execution - it’s a process!

Good luck in conference play!

Namaste,

Cathy

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A Win is Just a Win

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A Win is Just a Win

A win is just a win. I know I’m getting stuck in tautology here, but put the emphasis on “a.”

Don’t get caught early in your season thinking any win is bigger than it is. It’s just one win.

There is obvious value in getting the result, especially in terms of confidence and rankings, but as a coach the ability to clearly evaluate performance is much more important.

If you win but played poorly or just OK

Best case, the team’s confidence grow, but you as the coach are analytical and clinical about the level of play. Without undoing the benefits that naturally accrue from winning you hone in on the teaching that will correct the deficiencies. 

As a staff no delusion sets in. 

The outcome only allows you a cushion in the standings; there is no cushion in the approach or standards.

In my second season with the Carolina Courage we won our first two games without playing particularly well. At all. But after enduring a hard first season simply getting results improved the team’s confidence and morale. As a staff we were clear-eyed about where we really were with performance. We spent more time on film, on teaching, on preparation. We increased demand on the team in very specific ways.

By the third game we beat Atlanta with a Tiffany Roberts goal in legitimate fashion at home. It felt great. We were just starting, but we were now on the right track.

Be humble enough to always beware the potential for reversion to the mean. The first two wins of the season may have just been this law of averages, but by the third we knew we could get this done if we recognized, a win is just a win. Stay focused on the quality of performance.

If you win and played well

If you win and played at a level consistent with where you should be at this point, now as a coach you have an opportunity to ratchet up demand. The team’s confidence should be high. Players know when they have performed well. 

They can handle it as you show them the positives and the areas that need to get better.

This is the opportunity to show them there is another level to get to in their performance. 

In other words, this is just the start.

If you win, play well and get too caught in the moment then you might find your next result is not as positive. Even if it’s a victory. You’ll be stuck on a false peak  thinking you’ve achieved something only to see there are higher summits ahead. 

Better to know that you are only part way up the mountain with each win then to get wrapped up in any one.

Complacency:

A great coach, Marsha Way, used to tell her team, “If you think you’re there you ain’t.”

Watch for complacency setting in after a strong win or series of wins. Athletes or teams can think they’ve got things handled. One of the worst things is if a team thinks they have things handled. Complacency is an under-feared phenomenon. 

All of your opponents are working to get better. If you are having some success you have become a target. They want to beat you. 

The competition, the challenge, it naturally gets harder.  This is no time to become complacent.

My college coach, Anson Dorrance, framed his successful program around the concept that we are on an ever ascending path higher.

So keep in mind coach, a win is just a win.

(Guest post by Marcia McDermott.  This was originally posted at TheCoachingConversation.com and is part of an ongoing series focusing on a college preseason and season.  You can follow Marcia @soccerchicago or @thecoachconvo)


 

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Sometimes It Does Not Go As Planned

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Sometimes It Does Not Go As Planned

“This is not going as planned.”

We’ve all had that moment in a season, right? I know I certainly have. Everything started with excitement and anticipation and then three games, or five games in, you find yourself on the wrong side of results.

There are a million reasons why this could be happening: injuries, a key player quits, a youthful roster, tougher than anticipated schedule, a planned hard schedule, etc.

The key when things are not going according to plan is not to get stuck in the worry or the panic or a fixed definition of your team’s potential. The important thing is to solve it.

Diagnose First, Solve Second

Always begin here. Ask yourself why things aren’t going as planned. The answer to this question dictates your response. Without asking this question all your solutions are just shots in the dark.

  • You may be playing well and just need to stay the course. Don’t fall for a bias towards action.

  • It may be there is one area you need to address. Address it.

  • Your early schedule may simply be against difficult opponents. Frame this up for your team. It may be just what you need and end up paying off later if you manage it well now.

  • You might not be as good as you had originally thought. Get better. Teach. When you pick your head up later in the season you’ll probably find you are better.

  • Injuries or last minute roster changes can set you back.

  • etc, etc, etc

Either way, keep perspective, it’s early yet. Don’t allow the wrong narrative, or a self-fulfilling narrative, to set in too early.

Get Perspective. Think long-term

Reassess your goals to determine if you can achieve the big ones this year, next or sometime into the future.

Your goals might be fine but your timeline wrong. Adjust accordingly.

Also, there are always alternative paths to your goals. If you lose focus this early you will miss other opportunities to gain momentum as your season progresses.

Re-define wins

Find examples of progress to keep a team engaged when results are consistently going against them.

One way to do this is to use process goals. Use film, statistics and a marriage of the two to show ways in which your team is steadily improving. You can choose whichever metric you like, but ground the team in goals they can control.

At Headspace.com Kelton Wright makes the great point that process goals provide the how to get to the bigger goal.

When looking at a big goal, it can be overwhelming thinking “how am I going to accomplish all that?” But that’s actually the right question: how. The how is by breaking the big goal down into more easily tackled chunks, an approach often called incremental goals.”

When you or your team get overwhelmed shift your focus to your daily process. Can we work on finishing? On our Service? Does it show up in the stats. Are we getting more chances? More on frame? Does the film paint the picture?

Use these games to improve the tangible aspects of your game that will be drive results later in the season.

Or if more realistic, later in the timeline.

Stay Positive, Take Care of Your Team

Lead your team with a positive outlook. If they are struggling they don’t need you to pile on. Find the positives, frame things appropriately and stay in the every day process.

Balance the work with the fun.

At the Same Time, Maintain the Demand

Your standards will drive your team’s culture for years to come. Don’t drop them now.

Maintain the standards and the demand in training. Show your team how to stay in the process and how to trust that results will come.

Teach, Teach, Teach

Prepare them for today, tomorrow and into the future. Teach them the game. Stay in the process. Don’t worry about getting to the peak, make the day a positive productive day by teaching them and holding the standard.

Work With Individuals

Spend time with promising individuals working on their abilities and maintaining their commitment to the team and their own progress. As they improve, the team improves.

Take Care of Yourself

No season, no result, no training session is a referendum on you as a coach. We can be so hard on ourselves because we are so competitive and oriented towards results. But, being hard on yourself won’t help to keep in the process and lead your team in a positive manner.

One particularly hard season when I was starting a program I adopted a useful strategy for myself.

I gave up worry. I gave it up entirely.

I promised myself I would work my very hardest and when the day was done put down work, not indulge in any of my fears or worries, and enjoy life. I had done my best. One year. That was the time I established for my experiment. If we were no better at the end of a year I would go do something else with my time.

At the end of the year the program was much better and I was still sane.

Good luck Coach. You got this.

Marcia McDermott

This is a guest post by Marcia McDermott who writes at The Coaching Conversation.  You can follow Marcia on on Twitter @SoccerChicago and @TheCoachConvo.   

 

 

 

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Ways Teams Live Their Core Values

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Ways Teams Live Their Core Values

Ok, so you and your team have set your core values.  Good job!  You have accomplished the first and very important step to establishing the team culture.

Now,  let’s talk about how to commit to living those values every day.

Core values need to be clear and actionable. 

This will help each individual, including the coach, make decisions at crucial moments for herself and the team. 

In order for team member to buy-in to the importance of core values and live them everyday coaches must be vigilant in creating ways to keep them front and center and in the minds of all coaches and team members.

Peters and Watermen, in their wonderful book In Search of Excellence, note that value-shaping leaders instill enthusiasm through scores of daily events.   These coaches have a bug for details, and as a result directly instill values through deeds rather than words:  no opportunity is too small.

Every excellent company we studied is clear on what it stands for, and takes the process of values shaping seriously.  In fact, we wonder whether it is possible to be an excellent company without clarity of values and without having the right sort of values.” Peters and Watermen

Here are some questions to ask team members to engage them further in the process of thinking about core values:

What Core Value is most important to you and why?   

How will you hold yourself and others accountable to the team’s Core Values?  

What core value do you feel the team needs to focus on and how will we hold the team accountable?  

These personalized questions can encourage team members to think deeply about the team’s core values and the impact the core values have on them and their teammates.  These and other questions can be asked throughout the season to assure that every individual is adhering to the team’s core values.  

Accountable

Once the team’s core values are established coaches need to be clear on the consequences for those who don’t live by the core values.  

Creating an exemplary culture where coaches and athletes are accountable for how they perform and lead each other is a process and evolves over time.  Some team members may need to be reminded about the team’s core values more than others.  However, when team members don’t consistently live the core values agreed upon by the team, they will affect the culture you are trying to build.  

Once defined and agreed upon by the team members, core values are not negotiable and should never be compromised.

Teams who have established and implemented core values will differentiate themselves from their opponents.  They will always be grounded in knowing who they are and how they should behave.

Namaste,

Cathy

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Why Establishing Core Values Is The Key To A Team's Success

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Why Establishing Core Values Is The Key To A Team's Success

Does your team have Core values?

Do your players and coaches live the team’s Core values everyday?

Do they know what the Core values words mean?  Have you define them?

Or are your team’s Core values nothing more than window dressing for your locker room and team handbook?

These are important questions to ask yourself.  

What are Core Values?

Core values are the guiding principals and beliefs of a team.  

They form the foundation on which a team performs and conducts themselves.  They are the anchor that keeps the program in position to achieve its vision.  

Core values guide a team’s processes which impacts the decision making of coaches, athletes and support staff.   They clarify your team’s identity and separate you from your competition.  

They unite the team, define your brand, shape the culture and reflect what your program values.

Communication and trust among coaches and athletes are crucial to a team’s success.  Higher levels of trust and deeper communication are offshoots when the team conducts itself in accordance with its core values.  

Coaches need to energize the team behind a purpose so strong that every member of the team is engaged and is excited about achieving the team’s vision.  When coaches and athletes live the team’s core values they experience a sense of satisfaction and fulfillment.  

Core Values are the deeply held beliefs that authentically describe your soul ~ John Maxwell

Core values must not merely be slogans but rather meaningful words that articulate what the team stands for.  They must support the program’s mission and vision.  

Identifying a meaningful list of core values takes considerable amount of time and effort - it’s a process!  

Clearly define the meaning of each core value and what it means to members of the team. One of the keys to creating buy-in with your athletes is to invite them to participate in establishing and shaping the team’s core values.  When they do they become motivated and empowered - now they have skin in the game.  When athletes participate in the development of the core values they are more likely to embrace and follow the team’s shared vision and hold their teammates to the same standard.  

In future blogs I will discuss the following:  ways to engage athletes in establishing core values, how core values shape team culture and how to create a value-based recruiting process.   

Namaste,

Cathy

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Preseason Scrimmage

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Preseason Scrimmage

It's time for the first preseason scrimmage .

The second week begins. A little bit of the buzz has worn off. People are starting to sort out. Roles are emerging. Athletes who surprised you no longer do and each may now carry the weight of expectations. Young players are starting to think too much.

In other words, it's getting a bit harder. Then the first scrimmage pops up on the schedule. Finally an opportunity to test against an opponent. Everyone is excited and ready, but you coach, you have to makes some decisions.

What's the Point?

You have to decide how to use your first scrimmage. Will you play everybody? Give each player a chance to either learn the position under pressure or to prove herself. Or, will you start to deepen the relationships between key personnel on the field? The game after all often comes down to decisions made in concert with a teammate on the field.  You might also choose to give key players extra time who need the experience.

After you make this choice--and any strategy is valid--how will you present and explain it to the team and key personnel?

This might be more important than the decision you make.

Create a clear communication plan for the first scrimmage.

Often players can handle any role as long as it is clearly communicated, the value of the role understood, and a path to a bigger or more appealing role clearly presented.

Our tendencies as coaches to either avoid that conversation or to assume the player understands creates more consternation and future drama than the actual decision.

Establish the overall purpose of the scrimmage with your players.

Let the team know the intent of the game.

Are we working on something specific? Training through it in terms of fitness and freshness? Splitting roles in a purposeful manner? Placing restrictions. Just playing, no thinking. Etc.

Have individual conversations with players:

After this speak with specific players who either need a heads up about a growing role or those who may need to process a lesser one.

No surprises. Surprises are what cause drama. Establish protocols and communicate proactively. Players may still struggle with their roles, but the coach has an opportunity to explain and mitigate the effect on the team.

Remind athletes: Be Prepared

On the other hand, players need to be prepared when their moments emerge unexpectedly. Remind them of this.  Prepare them for the expected role and for the opportunities that naturally emerge within games. Injuries happen. Teammates struggle. Strategies shift.

When your moment arrives, what will you do? This is an important question for anybody on a team.

John Maxwell talks about being the lid on the jar for people we lead. Our intention is for each person to reach her full potential. Information will help with this.  Providing perspective will help. The journey is non-linear. Keep working. Keep going. Provide specific areas to focus on and encourage athletes to create a role now and a future role.

Conclusion

Establish for yourself now how you will proactively handle game day communications. Put those protocols in place and be proactive. Commit to each athletes growth, and help each find a meaningful role and path that is not solely determined by playing time. You may still have players who struggle with their role but at least you and they will have clarity and can address that directly.

Good luck with the first scrimmage!

This is a guest post by Marcia McDermott who writes at The Coaching Conversation. You can find her on twitter @soccerchicago, or @thecoachconvo.

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The Process

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As the first week of pre-season practice comes to a close it is time to reflect and evaluate the week.  The first week is usually a whirlwind beginning with the highly anticipated testing, such as the beep and VO2 max tests, followed by double practice sessions, strength training and player meetings.  

Coaches are anxious to get as much teaching in as possible as their first pre-season scrimmage is right around the corner and their first game not too far behind.  It is an important time for coaches to stay focused and to follow The Process.  As Marcia McDermott pointed out in her August 8 Druzz News post “When things veer off course, which is possible, steer back on.”

When things go awry the first thing that coaches do is that give up on The Process.  This is when coaches will be tested and when they must stay true to the implementation of their detailed practice plan and execution, hence The Process.

The impediment to action advances action.  What stands in the way becomes the way” ~ Marcus Aurelius 

So what is The Process?  According to Websters Dictionary the process is a series of progressive and interdependent steps by which an end is attained.

The term The Process was popularized by football Coach Nick Saban of the Alabama Crimson Tide.  Coach Saban’s core belief is that the willingness to prepare methodically on a daily basis is the key to success. Coach Saban believes those who focus on the result and not the consistent preparation that is necessary to achieve the result are doomed to be disappointed.

"It's about committing yourself to being the best you can be on that particular day," said Coach Saban. "Improvement is a steady march and you have to be committed to it."

The process is derived from process thinking which is a philosophy that emphasizes preparation and hard work over consideration of outcomes or results.  Process thinkers focus on the present instead of past events or future outcomes, and believe that all actions one takes in life, regardless of how trivial they may seem, affect the desired outcome. 

Following the process on and off the field is the key to achieving your desired outcome.  You can’t control the ultimate outcome as there are other factors out of your control which determine the outcome.  However, the chances of reaching your desired outcome will be enhanced by following a process, as the process will provide a consistent road map and a step by step thinking process for you to follow.   

It is important that the coaching staff is on the same page and that all coaches are sending the same message to the team.  All must be consistent and intentional about living and following the process. 

Don’t think about winning the Conference Championship, going to the NCAA’s or College Cup (even though we know you coaches are dreaming about it).  Think about what the players need to do in each drill, on each play, and being mindful and staying in the present moment.  That’s The Process!  Think about what you can do today, implementing the task at hand.  Have high expectations on execution and competing on every play.  By doing so you are creating habits and developing a competitive and relentless mindset.  Yes, be a task master!  Also, don’t forget to laugh and have fun… remember you are coaching Generation Z’ers.  Know how to motivate and influence them!

When you talk with the players about following the process you need to paint the picture of what the process looks like.  Players need to feel it and taste it.  It has to have an emotional impact - and speaking of emotions, we will take a deep dive into Emotional Intelligence in a later post.  Players need to know exactly what they need to do in each drill right now.  They need to compete and execute on every play.  They need to concentrate on the task at hand and be in the present moment.

Remember coaches and players must be intentional about following the process; it goes hand in hand with the team’s core values and team standards.  Keeping it front and center and making it one of your mantras is key.   At the end of the day it is up to the head coach to champion The Process into action!

Sometimes we make the process more complicated than we need to. We will never make a journey of a thousand miles by fretting about how long it will take or how hard it will be. We make the journey by taking each day step by step and then repeating it again and again until we reach our destination ~ Joseph B. Wirthlin

Namaste,

Cathy

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Preseason Priorities

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Preseason begins today for many Division I soccer programs.  For others we are just a couple days away. 

One of the great things about a fall sport preseason is just how focused everyone is on the team. There are no classes to attend, no tests, few other students on campus, many of the athletes are living together, you may even take your team away to an isolated setting. 

Everything is about the sport. 

It can feel like an enormous opportunity. And, it is. The coach can accomplish a lot. 

This is a good thing, but watch out, there’s a hidden danger. Or, rather temptation.

You may be tempted to tackle too many topics, to try to teach everything you want them to know, in a short two-week period. 

Remember as the great John Wooden says, “You haven’t taught until they’ve learned.” 

A skillful coach can hurry some processes up of course, but in the hopes of accomplishing everything you run the risk of accomplishing little. 

Josh Waitzkin reminds us in the Art of Learning that when learning a skill “depth beats breadth.”

Sure you have a long list of to-dos but perhaps you have a short list of must-knows that you will build on all season long. Focus in on this. 

That’s why it’s important to establish your own priorities for preseason. 

What is that you most want to accomplish? Why? And how will it lead into your season plan?

Nobody else can establish those priorities for you. Every team and coach has a different set of circumstances and different challenges. Therefore nobody can copy each other’s priorities no matter how tempting. 

Evaluate your sessions, your days, each week and ultimately the team’s preseason against these priorities. When things veer off course, which is possible, steer back on. You might choose to wait and set your priorities after you have seen your team. This is understandable. Keep it simple. Don’t do extra work there’s already plenty.

Only you know your team so you set the priorities. Just don’t skip this important step

Marcia McDermott

You can follow Marcia on on Twitter @SoccerChicago and @TheCoachConvo. 

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Why Report Day Sets the Tone for the Season

Scientists say that we form our first impression about someone within the first seven seconds of meeting them.  Report Day is about getting off to a great start with your players and setting the tone for your vision of the season.  That starts with the impression you create.

Report Day is jammed packed from moving into dorms, to physicals, to meetings with compliance, trainers, nutritionist, and sport administrators to picking up gear, to individual head shots and team photos.  Wow what a day!

You are chomping at the bit to get your team on the field the next day … But as Lee Corso would say “Not so fast my friend.”  You must take care of business today.

 You are a coach that expects players to be on-time and organized.  Are you?  Will you be?

Remember, Coach …Everything you do is observed and analyzed by your players. 

It is your job to make sure Report Day is planned and presented in detailed fashion… just like you expect your players to play.

Every detail of Report Day should be planned and executed to a tee!

And coaches please don’t forget … this is a time for you to connect with your players .. have fun and laugh with them… be loose.   Show them who you are!  And if your day is well planned and executed, you will have plenty of time for these important connections.

And please remember to feed the players throughout this busy and important day! 

The first day of practice will be hours away…. for today be organized and have fun - and carry that over to practice tomorrow!

What kind of impression will you give your players on Day 1of what you want to be a great season? 

Namaste,

Coach Druzz


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Keys for a Successful Preseason

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Keys for a Successful Preseason

Welcome to Druzz News!  As the new academic year is almost upon us and fall sports are beginning their preseason training, for the next two weeks my colleague Marcia McDermott and I will be writing and posting a series of articles on Keys for a Successful Preseason.

The articles will focus on a wide spectrum of topics that we feel would be helpful reminders to coaches as they prepare their teams for the upcoming season.  Some topics will include leadership, core values, team standards, performance goals, training cues, self awareness, teamwork, communication and mental preparation. 

I am excited to have leadership and soccer coach Marcia McDermott join me on this Preseason Journey.  Marcia McDermott has spent 20 years coaching women's soccer, including positions in the college ranks with University of Arkansas, Northwestern University, USMA, and the University of Illinois among others.  She also coached in the WUSA, the first women’s pro league, with the Carolina Courage where she won the regular season and post-season championship.  Following that she worked in the front office of the Courage and was the General Manager of the Chicago Red Stars in the WPS.  In addition, she served as an Assistant Coach with the U. S. Women's National Soccer Team (USWNT) in 2011 (silver medal) and has scouted for the full team in 2008 and 2012, each Gold Medal runs and served as President of the United Soccer Coaches in 2010.  She also was an All American player at the University of North Carolina, where she won multiple National Championships and served as a co-captain.

We hope you find our articles helpful as you navigate your team through preseason training.  We  welcome your comments and questions and wish you the best of luck this season!

You can follow Marcia on on Twitter @SoccerChicago and @TheCoachConvo.  I post on Instagram at coachdruzz and on Twitter @cathyandruzzi.

Namaste,

Coach Druzz











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