How To Take The 'Suck' Out Of Traveling With Your Team

Team travel can be stressful and challenging.

What can you do to make the best of your time on the road?

The Denver Blizzard

It was my first NCAA Championship as a head coach at WSU. We were traveling to Auburn, Alabama. I decided it would be a good opportunity for me to look especially professional - so I wore my best suit and heels. (BTW: I never ever wore a suit...or heels...I coached swimming!)

The one athlete we took that year was a senior. It was her first NCAA Championships. It would be her last. 

We flew from Seattle to Denver and were on our connecting flight from Denver to Atlanta when the pilot got on the plane and said, "I'm sorry. The Denver Airport has grounded all flights due to snow." 

Shit.

I snapped into go-mode without even thinking, called our travel agent on campus who booked the last hotel room and rental car in the Denver vicinity. We spent the next 72 hours walled up in a completely booked hotel - 7 miles from the airport - waiting out the blizzard of 2003 with only our carry-on luggage. Meaning, I was wearing the same suit and high heels for 3 days+ including the 2 hours it took me to dig our rental car out of the snow to get back to the Denver Airport.

There's a very happy ending to that awful story: Lindsay Henahan (now Tuschong...who eventually came back to WSU as my assistant coach for 3 years) finally made it to the NCAA Championships in time to swim her best event - the 100 Butterfly.

We arrived into Auburn at 2am that morning. With as little warm-up as possible, Lindsay shot out of the blocks...like a bullet. Not even an epic blizzard stopped her from reaching her goal of becoming an NCAA All-American. She made it into the consolation finals in the 15th spot and scored 1 point that year for WSU!

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Are You Coaching Your Athletes HOW To Be Better Leaders?

Part of being a coach means coaching your athletes to become stronger leaders.

Just like you coach technical skills, it’s also important to coach them on leadership skills...like self awareness, communication, judgement & decision-making, and tolerance for adversity.

Help them discover their strengths, uncover their weaker areas, and find ways for them to contribute, learn, and evolve as leaders throughout each season.

If that sounds like a huge responsibility to add to your plate...READ ON! I’ll teach you 3 specific ways to help you coach your athletes on leadership this season.

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3 signs you need to re-communicate your vision to your team

You live and breathe your vision every day. You have a clear picture of where your team can go. You know the potential that’s there for your team this year. You believe in what's possible.

Does anyone else on your team see it too?

They have to SEE what you're SAYING!

You’ve got to get YOUR vision out of your head and into the hearts and minds of your team.

THREE SIGNS YOU NEED TO SPEND MORE TIME COMMUNICATING YOUR VISION

  1. You're constantly frustrated. It seems like you're the only one working towards your team goals. It's as if everyone else is just going through the motions and doing their own thing.

  2. Your team is easily thrown off by obstacles and challenges. The smallest thing happens and throws everyone off course. Some athletes over-react...other athletes completely withdraw.

  3. You're working really hard...all the freaking time...it literally feels as if you're pushing a big heavy rock up a really steep hill. You are the only one holding people accountable. You're always the 'bad guy.' Someone on the team screws up...and you're the only one to address it.

If any or all of those three signs resonate...then chances are you need to spend more time communicating your vision to your team.

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What Most Coaches Won't Share About Loneliness

Tammy is a coach I've worked with the past four years - starting the season after she was fired from her job as a head coach.

The circumstances were complex. There were major issues that her athletic director was dealing with - title IX compliance, pressure from the president to significantly reduce spending, legal battles within the department, NCAA compliance issues...things were a mess. The culmination of the entangled web of problems boiled down to her team being cut the following season. Thus, she was out of a job.

She wasn't sure what she would do at first.

Leave coaching? She wondered 'who would ever hire me again...after having the stigma of being fired?'

Sure, it wasn't her fault...it wasn't performance based...at all. And still...she worried, 'how can I possibly explain my unique circumstances every time I call about a position or even put in an application?'

Tammy felt incredibly alone.

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Your action plan for when an athlete screws up

The first time I kicked someone off my team, I yelled.

It wasn't the way I wanted to handle it and...I hadn't yet learned another way. Kicking her off the team was also partly my fault.

In my early days as a Head Coach, I resisted confronting my athletes to hold them accountable. I had a young woman on my team who clearly wasn't doing her part. She was on a totally different page than the rest of the team. 

The writing was on the wall during the first week of practice. Yet, I ignored little problems and minimized her mistakes. I basically did everything I could to avoid a confrontation.

I didn't give this athlete feedback on where she was falling short - until I clearly had to do something as the head coach to salvage my team. Her teammates had to endure my lack of action. I would get irritable with other athletes - when it was her I was frustrated with. I kept telling myself she’d figure it out somehow… until it was too late. 

Since shifting careers, I’ve spent thousands of dollars on my own coaching, taken countless seminars and continuing education classes, and read hundreds of books and articles. I really wish I knew then what I know now!

And while I can’t go back and change the way I coached back then, I can pass along simple strategies and a different perspective to the coaches I work with now.

I really hope that this will help spend less time avoiding and procrastinating having these hard conversations and more time doing what you love as a coach - connecting with your athletes. 

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Overcome Overwhelm Before Your Season Gets Even Busier

Here are few things I've heard from coaches this week...I'm wondering if you can relate?

  • "I'm so overwhelmed. I have so much to do. I don't have enough time to get it all done!!!"

  • "I'm running around...I can't even find time to eat. I'm trying not to bite someone's head off!"

  • "Things are falling through the cracks. There aren't enough hours in the day. I'm freaking out!"

That's why, when I work with coaches, one of the first things we do during our work together is begin to implement strategies and habits that help you reduce the number of days when you feel completely overwhelmed. 

Because here's the thing...if you're a coach, overwhelm is not going to ever go away.

Imagine...the coach...who sits back in her chair, stretches out her legs, crosses her feet up on her desk with her hands behind her head and says,

"Woo hoo! I'm not overwhelmed! Everything is out of my inbox, I've made all the decisions I need to make, and things are running on autopilot! This job rocks! It's SO easy!"

Think about it. That's never going to happen!

That's because you're a coach.

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