3 Things You Can Do To Help Your Team Handle 'End Of Season' Transitions

You’ve had a long season.

It’s hard to imagine back to the beginning of the year when everything was new and exciting. There was a sense of wonder. Endless possibilities.

Your athletes are different now.

They’ve changed.

You’ve changed as a coach.

You’ve had experiences together as a team that have helped you learn and grow. You’ve all had your perspectives challenged - more than once.

Your team cycles through the four stages of team development: FORM-STORM-NORM-PERFORM throughout the season.

There’s a 5th stage called transformation. During this stage, some athletes may feel a sense of loss or grief and others may feel a sense of relief - depending on their perspective, experience, and outcome.

The TRANSFORM stage is when members of the group move on...for a variety of reasons.

  • Seniors graduate.

  • Athletes quit or transfer to another team.

  • Coaches may ask an athlete not to return based on behavior and expectations that are no longer aligned with the direction the team is going.

There’s a lot of different stuff going on under the surface for athletes who will be returning to your team.

  • The juniors may be overwhelmed - with the realization of all that's coming up for them in the year ahead.

  • The sophomores may be starting to get comfortable (maybe a little too comfortable...???).

  • The freshmen may have already checked out - just ready to go home. 

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Wish You Had A Magic Wand To Change Your Team's Attitude?

Do you ever wish you had a magic wand...that you could just waive over your athletes when they're complaining, whining, blaming, or being negative? 

It's unrealistic to expect your athletes to be positive and chipper all of the time. (Let's get real...I'm not always positive and chipper myself. Especially before I've had my coffee).

Yet, some days when my team would come out onto the pool deck for practice...it was like a forcefield of negative energy. It was like the dementors out of Harry Potter. (I love Harry Potter...). Everything felt heavy, dramatic, and dark.

I wished I had a magic wand to simply shift their energy.

I wanted to help them realize how carrying this heavy negative energy seemed to drain their POTENTIAL.

If only they could be more open, more light, and allow things to flow.

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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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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.


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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What's YOUR word-of-the-year?

I love the energy heading into a new year. 

There's something exhilarating about a fresh start, a clean slate, and a chance to begin again. I started my annual tradition of choosing a word of the year in 2006 after reading about it in the newsletter I got from Christine Kane.  She was a singer at the time.  Now she's my coach.

I've been writing about it and doing word-of-the-year workshops since 2014.

In the sport of swimming, teams are often training over the New Year's holiday. We had a lot of international athletes on our team. We had a new year's count down for the different time zones across the world and even learned how to say "Happy New Year" in different languages. 

I wanted to take time to celebrate this new beginning with the team - and tap into this powerful energy.  Since we were already training hard and the team was pretty tired, I didn't want to add another serious "goal" to their plate..like coming up with a bunch of resolutions.

I wanted to do something more fun...more powerful...more meaningful. I introduced them to my tradition of choosing a word of the year.

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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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