5 Reminders From My 1st Year As A Head Coach

I still remember my very first day of work at Washington State University. I was a 26 year old first-year head coach.

I showed up in my boss's office on July 1st, 2002 at 8am, sharp - my backpack on, large mug of coffee in hand, ready to hit the ground running.

I was eager, wide-eyed and terrified - all at the same time.

My boss welcomed me in and then handed off to her assistant…who gave me keys to my office and a brief checklist - to set up email, schedule an HR orientation, and other 'new person' logistics. 

I walked into my dark new office that had blank walls , an empty desk, and a big ugly orange cabinet.

I didn't even have a computer yet. So, I sat there for a few minutes and just stared forward.

"Well, now what, Quam?," I asked myself. "What have you gotten yourself into?"

Here are 5 reminders I now share with new head coaches to support them through this transition:

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4 Strategies For A Quiet Leader

One of the questions I often get at my coaching summits is, "Can I be a successful coach and still be an introvert?"

My answer? Absolutely. 

I really believe the more authentic you are the less energy it takes.

Being a coach is a big job already! Trying to be someone you're not will leave you overwhelmed and exhausted. 

Now, there are times when all coaches have to step out of their comfort zone and adapt their behavior - to be effective.

However, if you're always striving to please your athletes, be someone you're not, or simply trying to fit a mold of who you think you should be...you're gonna burn out.

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Three Stories That Hold Coaches Back

written by Erica Quam

We all have stories we tell ourselves. Some stories originated to protect us and helped us grow into the people we are today. Some stories originated to protect us and helped us grow into the people we are today.  There comes a time when these same stories no longer serve us. They hold us back and keep us stuck!

Here are 3 stories I see coaches struggle with all the time.

1st Story -- I CAN DO IT ALL BY MYSELF

How it shows up...

You hand a project off to someone on your staff. It doesn’t get done right.

Instead of taking the time to get really clear on your specific expectations of what it looks like when it’s done and done well...you go ahead and just do it yourself.

As a coach, you are capable of a lot. You are good at juggling a lot of things - all at once. Does the fact that you CAN do it mean you SHOULD do it? Of course not!

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Are Your Athletes Coachable (And Why They Should Care!)

The eye-rolls. The whispers. Groups of your athletes...complaining about the workout, meeting, or feedback you gave them. This kind of stuff can drive a coach crazy and wear you down - mentally and emotionally.

It's not always easy to be a coach…especially a head coach.

Everything you do is open to someone else's interpretation, judgement, and criticism.

How do you coach your athletes so they know you care about them as people and push them hard enough to reach their potential?

It's a fine line for coaches to walk...especially female coaches.

If you're doing it well, you'll teeter right on that edge. Some days you'll push too hard, other times you'll pamper too much.

What I know for sure is you won't ever be able to please everyone all of the time. So you can't change course with every judgement and criticism that comes your way. 

What you CAN do is educate your athletes on your role as a coach, teach them how to work with you most effectively, and help them learn how to be coachable. Otherwise...it might be best for them to move on.

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3 Different Ways To Look At Leadership That Will Help Every Single Athlete On Your Team

One thing I hear from coaches all the time is that their team is struggling due to a lack of leadership on their team.

I ask them specifically what they mean.

They often talk about team captains who aren't doing their job "because they're afraid to hold people accountable" or a few of their seniors have "checked out...just biding their time until they’re done."

"Okay," I respond..."so, what about the rest of your team? What's the leadership like on the rest of your team?

This question usually stumps them. Because most coaches are only thinking about their team captains or seniors when they think about leadership.

And sure...it's a legitimate place to start.

If you define a leader as someone who has influence then your team captains and your senior class probably have a lot of influence on your team. And as all coaches know their influence is not always positive!

Before you throw in the towel and chalk it up to a 'lack of leadership', let's look at leadership from a different angle.

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Three Ways To Close the Perception Gap On Your Team

Tawnya's team was struggling.

Her team returned to campus after a long training camp. Classes had just started back.

It's always been an odd time for her team, yet this year felt especially strange. Her team felt disconnected.

Yet, when she talked to her team captains about it, they totally brushed it off and assured her everything was going 'just fine'.

"You're making things up...we're all good coach," said one of her senior athletes convincingly.

After practice, she pulled one of her freshmen aside to ask her how things were going and got a totally different story.

SOMETHING’S UP

When "something's up" on your team...you know it.

You may not know the WHAT or the WHY…yet if you're intuitive, you definitely know the 'feeling' you get.

One of the hardest things to deal with as a coach is when you know something's wrong and your team denies it...until it's too late and everything blows up...at the most un-opportune time.

What can you do when you ‘feel’ that something’s up?

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