Dealing With Feedback, Criticism, and Complaints

At the end of the season, you’re going to get feedback from your athletes, staff, and administration.

A lot of coaches - consciously or unconsciously - have a lot of stress during this time.

Couple that with the fact you’ve had a long season…and probably not much of a break.

How do you respond to criticism - from your athletes, parents, administrators, or other coaches?

Sorry to be the downer...and I'm letting you know there will always be people who judge and criticize you for actions you take and decisions you make. 

You can't escape cricitism!

It doesn't matter how hard you work, how perfect you are, or what level of success you reach...there will always be someone there to judge you.

How do you respond?

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Do Your Excuses Interfere With Your Vacation?

I encourage the coaches I work with to schedule their vacations and downtime FIRST...and schedule the rest of the season around that.

It’s one of the hardest conversations that we have!

I get a lot of push back, resistance, and excuses.

Here are some typical responses (I'm wondering if you can relate?):

  1. THE NON-COMMITTAL COACH: "I can't commit to a vacation. There are way too many things that might come up."

  2. THE 'IF THEN' COACH: "If we do well enough this season, then I'll see if I can take some time off."

  3. THE PROCRASTINATOR: "I promise I'll schedule my vacation…'later'."

RESISTANCE TO VACATION IS PART OF OUR CULTURE

If you have a hard time taking vacation, you're not alone. 

In fact, the majority of Americans don't even use their hard-earned vacation time. 

Did you know that in 2015, 55 percent of Americans combined to leave 658 million vacation days unused. (GfK KnowledgePanel®)?

‘Work martyr’ an actual term. It’s a belief that vacations are difficult to take because:

  • No one else can do the work while I'm away

  • I want to show complete dedication to my job

  • I don't want others to think I'm replaceable

  • I feel guilty for using my time off

It's time to change this culture!

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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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Do your excuses interfere with your vacation?

I encourage the coaches I work with to schedule their vacations and downtime FIRST...then schedule the rest of the season around that.

Here are some typical responses. (I'm wondering if you can relate?)

THE NON-COMMITTAL COACH

  • "Are you joking?"
  • "I can't commit to that. There are way too many things that might come up."
  • "You're kidding, right?!"

THE 'IF THEN' COACH

  • "If we do well enough this season, then I'll see if I can take some time off."
  • "If we sign three recruits this fall, I'll schedule something in the spring."
  • "If I can keep my assistant coach here for another season, I'll make sure to get that in."

THE PROCRASTINATOR

  • "I can't do it right now. I don't have any bandwidth to think about that right now."
  • "I promise I'll schedule my vacation 'later'."
  • "I'll find time for some rest...as long as nothing else important comes up."

IT'S PART OF OUR CULTURE

If you have a hard time taking vacation, you're not alone. The majority of Americans don't use their hard-earned vacation time. In 2015, 55 percent of Americans combined to leave 658 million vacation days unused. (GfK KnowledgePanel®)

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What to do when you feel burned out...and want to quit

It was spring - during my 5th year as an assistant collegiate swim coach. I was done. I had already made a new plan. I was moving to Alaska. 

I would work at Starbucks or REI. I wanted to do something easy. Maybe I would pick up some substitute teaching hours along the way.

My friend had offered me a place to live for free while she traveled out of the country for the next six months.

All I wanted to do was sleep...and be by myself. What I realized later was that I was experiencing all the classic signs and symptoms of burnout. 

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How to take the 'suck' out of traveling with your team

Travel can be stressful and challenging. Especially for coaches traveling with teams! There's no way around it. You are going to have some competitions at home. You are going to have some competitions away. What can you do to make the best of your time on the road?

Travel horror story

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.

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