Three ways to win in recruiting

How would you fill in the blank to this statement? 

My job would be great…if it weren’t for __________________.

If I surveyed 100 of the coaches, I'd bet 99 of them would answer ‘recruiting.’ One of the biggest challenges the coaches talk about is the recruiting process. So, lately, I’ve been brainstorming ways I can help.

1. Coaches win in recruiting through mindset.

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Get creative with your team reading this season

written by Erica Quam

Coaches always ask me, "What books do you recommend I help me and my team?" 

The only thing we can truly count on in life is that our lives are constantly changing. Successful leaders read - in the background of everything else they're doing. A good book can shift perspective and expand minds.


As a coach, you're a leader. You're in charge of a team of people. You have the power to make such a crucial difference in the lives of your athletes. You model habits that change their lives!

If you're excited and inspired about what you're reading, you provide a spark of motivation to your athletes - by exposing them to a diverse body of knowledge and resources. Reading - for curiosity and life-long learning is a habit they can take into the rest of their lives too! 


Team reading helps your team build trust early on in the season. Your incoming freshman are looking for ways they can fit into your team culture. They can be instant contributors to the team conversation and bring in their fresh new perspective.


Some of the coaches I've worked with have done a great job using their team reading as a theme for the season. A book can anchor your team to a theme that you can revisit again and again throughout the year. Plan ahead how you can weave it into different parts of your season - and add it to your calendar!


You can't possibly teach your athletes all of the things you WANT to teach them. Even if you did, some of them won't actually hear it or have stopped listening (especially by the time summer rolls around...)! Having a variety of subjects for them to choose from takes pressure off of you.

Plus...letting them choose - and giving them choices gives them autonomy and lowers their levels of stress and anxiety. You'll get fewer eye-rolls if they have a say in what they read and probably be more willing to share a few of their favorite "nuggets" with the group.


Your athletes love their phones. Let them use their phones to get creative. Have them present the "theme" of their reading to the team - using videos, movie clips, songs, or even hashtags.

If nothing else, it will be entertaining and make it a lot more memorable - when they bring it to life.


Try breaking the book up into sections and using short segments to spark a team discussion. Do it as a large group or have people parter people up. Keep it simple. Ask your athletes, "What did you all think about this? How can this apply to you?" 

1. Your Brain At Work by David Rock

David Rock isn't a neuroscientist. He cares about this information he's writing about and he brings brain research to life - for actual people! He gives you actual ways of managing yourself and steps you need to take to be more productive and less overwhelmed. You (and your athletes) can take it, learn it, and actually implement it!

I can't believe how much I love this book. It's easy to understand and makes SO much sense. I think it's a great read for you - to build awareness about yourself. Plus...there are so many tangible things you can pull from this book to use with your team.

2. The Upside of Stress by Kelly McGonigal

Kelly asks people to acknowledge the reality of stress and begin to see how stress can help us tap into our strengths. 

I've read parts of this book to my yoga students and they've loved it. A big concept here based on current research: “we get stressed because” versus “we get stressed so that”. 

Kelly introduced new research to students at Stanford teaching them how to deal with test anxiety and social anxiety in a way that helps them thrive. "It was like the first time students would leave looking happy rather than demoralized because I had met the reality of their lives which is that stressful."

3. From Values to Action: The Four Principles of Value-Based Leadership by Harry Kraemer

If you like books on leadership, this is a clear and simple book to add to your collection. Kraemer proposes that "leadership has nothing to do with titles and work charts. It has everything to do with the ability to influence people." He argues that strong values are the key to real leadership: you have to relate to others before you can influence them and before you can relate to them, you have to know yourself first. 

If you plan on doing any activities on values with your team this season, don't miss the opportunity to tie that into leadership!

4. Playing Big by Tara Moehr

What I like about this book are the practical exercises you can adapt and use this with your team. Tara talks about the inner critic, the inner mentor, looking at fear, unhooking from criticism, hiding, leaping, and communicating with power. 

Break it up and cover a chapter each month - depending on what you see your athletes struggling with. Or better yet - ask them which chapter your team should talk about this month.

5. Learning Games: Leadership by Kim Smith and Leslie Shevlin

Now, I've got to admit, I don't my hands on this one yet...because it's hot off the press. AND it's on it's way! Leslie is the Head Men's and Women's Swimming Coach at Willamette College in Salem, OR and comes to my coaching summits each year. She contributed to this book and has used these activities first-hand with her team and with members of the student athlete advisory committee. 


1. Get the actual book.

I know. There are tons of ways to "read books" today. You can get an electronic version to read on your phone. You can listen to books being read to you. This may be a great thing to do when you're traveling or commuting. And if it's the only way you can do it, then great. 

There's something different about having your own copy of the actual, physical book...different in terms of how your brain receives the information and remembers it.

2. Read with a highlighter.

Highlight the parts that you'd want to come back to and re-read again. Take notes as you go - in the actual book. Reading helps to stir up memories of the past or ideas for the future. You can connect with what you read experientially at times. The act of taking notes and writing things down - words, ideas, phrases to come back to - can help you remember what you read.

3. Take notes on a notecard as you go.

It's valuable to have a process for how you read. It's so easy to get distracted and pulled away when you're reading. Give your brain as many opportunities as possible to remember the actual content.

In short, these are a few of my recommendations to get and have on your shelves throughout the year to reference, ground, and inspire you and your team. 

Do you have another book you're going to use with your team this year? I'd LOVE to know what it is! Share it here so other coaches can benefit!

The significance of 3 C's for coaches and athletes: certainty, choice, and control

I was biology major in college. I like to 'geek out' a bit and dive into some of the science behind our human behaviors.  It turns out...our brains are wired for certainty, choices, and control.


The brain likes certainty. Whether we're playing solitaire, Sudoku or completing a crossword puzzle. How great does it feel when you 'win'? Your brain gets an instant reward. YES - that's the answer!

When you can't predict the outcome of a situation your brain feels out of control.

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3 stories that hold coaches back

We all have stories we tell ourselves. Some stories started out 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 and end up holding us back.

Here are the 5 stories I see coaches struggle with all the time.


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 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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3 ways to guide your team through transformation

We're nearing the end of the year when your team is entering a new stage of team development: transformation.

Maybe you've talked to them about the other 4 stages: FORM-STORM-NORM-PERFORM. There's actually a 5th stage that doesn't get talked about much. The TRANSFORM stage is when members of the group move on...for a variety of reasons: people quit or are cut; people graduate or transfer.

The juniors are overwhelmed - with the realization of all that's coming up for them in the year ahead. The sophomores are starting to get comfortable (maybe a little too comfortable...???) and the freshmen have already checked out. They're done...and ready to go home. 

Do you feel this chaos as a coach? You probably do.

Does your team feel it? They definitely do. They may not have the awareness as to why things 'feel off'.

Transformation can be a confusing time for your team. It can be a big deal or a little deal - depending on what happens and how it's handled. 

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Hoping for a more positive team culture?

Hope is not the best plan for building a positive team culture. It definitely takes a lot of work!

Creating a positive team culture takes three things 1) structure from the coaching staff 2) engagement from your team 3) and accountability for both coaches and athletes.

A positive team culture begins with the coach - as the designated leader of the team. If the coach doesn't initiate this positive team culture, it'll be really hard for a team to create it for themselves. 

1. The structure for building a positive team culture are the rules, roles, and expectations.

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