Nearly every athlete, leader, and influencer I have spent time with over the past few years has identified something in their past, either coaching or teaching, positively impacted their path in this world. You are a coach and you have the opportunity to positively impact the lives of your students. It is not an easy job and the challenges are huge, but your desire to be better will improve your chances of making a positive impact.
Your coaching fingerprint is what makes you successful. It is formed through your own experiences, your unique psychological makeup, and the influences that have shaped how you compete and prepare for competition. It starts with what you want to accomplish and the importance of that to your overall mission. From that starting point, you can incorporate your individual philosophy and manage how you communicate with the competitive world. It is through this cycle that your impact becomes a reality.
What Do You Really Want?
What kind of coach do you want to be and what kind of impact do you want to make? These are not mutually exclusive questions, but they are absolutely critical to the type of coach you want to become.
Far too many coaches lack the navigational direction of who and what they want to become. They chase the newest techniques and most powerful technology but forget who they are as a person. At the core of every great coach is the impact made on those they are coaching. It is important to understand what impact you specifically want to make.
The Most Common Mistakes I See Coaches Make
- They try to become the coach that impacted them, trying to replicate their style, their philosophy, and overall approach, but in doing so, the emerging coach ignores who they truly are. Don’t be the coach that impacted you but instead become your own coach by incorporating the influences that you have had in your life to this point.
- They assume that they have to know the in’s and out’s of coaching from the start when in reality, the greatest coaches are truly lifelong learners. Innovative coaches allow for the adaptation and maturation and do not hold themselves to being their best right out of the gate.
- They limit outside influences. The best coaches are not resistant to inviting experts to collaborate with their teams, such as nutritionists, mental coaches, or position specific instructors. In fact, I have found that the best coaches have the biggest network around them while coaches that continually fall short fail to lock down the doors from outside influences. I am not sure if it is an ego move, but the final impact is on your athletes and they are the ones suffering from not being exposed to great influencers outside of your program.
- They make parents and athletic department personnel the enemy instead of recruiting them to be a part of their program. The coach-parent conflict has become so toxic in the United States that parents and coaches are on edge before seasons even start, yet, the ones that are suffering are the athletes. The ballpark or training center are not places for conflict, especially between two parties that should be most invested in the athletes’ overall development.
The reason that these mistakes often happen is that coaches lack the direction and drive to achieve what they deeply want to accomplish. If you as a coach do not know what you want to accomplish, you will constantly search for the newest spark.
It is not wrong to say “I want to win championships!” That does not mean you do not want to develop great human beings either! It is okay to say that you want to provide a fair, comprehensive developmental environment that focuses on self-esteem. That does not mean you do not want to win! Pick the primary and work to achieve WITH ALL RESPECT TO EACH ASPECT OF YOUR TEAM’S DEVELOPMENT!
Several years ago, I wrote The MindSide Manifesto: The Urgency to Create a Competitive Mindset and the impact on coaches has been dramatic. I have been stopped by coaches at every conference that I have presented at and they have shared the positive impact of establishing a clear purpose in their lives, what I call a MANIFESTO. Far too many have been coached to not be so forward with what they want and as a result, they stay frustrated with their lack of progress. Can you imagine telling your athletes to hold back on their dreams? To not be honest about what they want?
Neither should you.
Do not worry about who you offend or make uncomfortable. It comes down to you learning how to be the best you can be, to achieve what you truly want. Everything that you desire comes with a sacrifice so you have to be willing to determine what you will have to give up to succeed.
I do not mind putting in the time and effort. But I will never sacrifice time with my family. The hours are long but I work hard to be where I want to be and need to be for my family events. I try hard to be as efficient as I can be when I am away from home to make sure that can do in one trip that others do in two. It comes down to balancing different demands and still working towards the ultimate goal.
When you retire from the field of coaching, what do you want them to write about you?
Who will show up at your retirement party?