Gratitude For Your Most Challenging Athletes

Challenging athletes are usually the one's who get most of your attention, take most of your time, and drain most of your energy. 

They can leave you exhausted - while whittling away at your passion and inspiration. Just when you think you've got your team moving together in the right direction...another issue surfaces and drama escalates.

(You probably have someone in mind...right? Your blood pressure may be elevating just by reading this...)

Your other athletes sense your frustration. They're most likely fed up with the whole situation too. 

They don't know what to say to you...and they're definitely not sure how to handle their teammate.

This vicious cycle will not only keep your team stuck...it will widen the gap between where you are and where you wanna go.

You didn't sign up for this. You just wanna coach!!!! Is that too much to ask????

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3 Steps To A More Successful Outcome For Anything You Do

written by Erica Quam

I was talking to a coach this week who shared one of her accomplishments. 

(Coaches begin our calls by telling me what went well, what they’re proud of, and things they’ve accomplished since the last time we spoke).

This coach shared, “My accomplishment was...I actually set an intention.” 

Alright! Cool!” I replied.

What did setting an intention look like for you? What did you do?”, I asked.

THE EVENT

The coach described what happened.

She had been avoiding a difficult conversation with her head coach. There were issues that she didn’t know how to address so she kept putting it off. Over time, emotions continued to build. Now, almost anything he said triggered her…even if it was an innocent comment.

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Do you make space for level three conversations?

It was day 2 of a 3 day competition. Samantha (Sam) walked over to her friend, Tonya - who coached at a different school - as both of their teams were stretching and warming up.

Tonya asks, "How are you?"

Sam responds (knowing she'd have to get back to her athletes in a matter of minutes), "I'm doing (she paused)...good I guess." 

In reality, she wasn't doing well...and Tonya knew at least some of the background. 

In April, they had been to the same coaching summit and had one of the most pivotal conversations of Sam's coaching career so far.

She hadn't realized how much her and Tonya had in common - until they actually had a chance to talk.

Both been through similar challenges that year with their head coach. Both had been at a crossroads - with decisions they needed to make about a next step along their coaching journey.

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6 Steps To Help You Weather Conflict On Your Team

Kristin's team was a few weeks into the season. Things were going well so far and yet she sensed an undercurrent of tension after morning practice. She hadn't 'heard' anything negative...she just had a 'sense'.

Then she got a text from her team captain to confirm something was definitely up...thank GOD!

At least she had her guard up before Nell (one of her freshmen) walked into her office and promptly burst into tears.

All teams (and any group) cycle through the stages of group development:

  1. Forming

  2. Storming

  3. Norming

  4. Performing

During the forming stage, your athletes are looking for ways to belong and connect. As a coach, this is when you’ll want to build trust and set boundaries - so people feel safe.

Storming begins when people assert themselves and try to stand out. When it happens, this CAN be great. To become a high performing team and reach your true potential your team needs to storm. Tuckman's theory of team development seems simple enough to comprehend.  It's not always so easy - in practice.

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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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