Your coaches survival kit: 5 essentials to bring with you this season

written by Erica Quam

Teams go on powerful journeys over the course of a season. You might even think of it as an expedition.

The experiences you’ll have together will be unique - to you and your team. Only your team will truly understand the direction you're heading, the challenges you'll face, and all the many victories you'll share along the way.

As a coach, you’ll get to know the strengths and weaknesses of your athletes - as they get to know yours.

If you’re doing your job of getting them out of their comfort zones, then you’ll see your athletes at their best and at their worst. They’ll also get to see your highs and lows.

This is a vulnerable position to be in as a coach!

Be ready for all of the learning that’s going to happen this year. Be prepared! Just like going on a backpacking trip, there are certain things you'll need to have in your pack!

(And what I know about coaches is this: if you don't have it together before the season starts, you won't have time to bring it at all.)

Equip yourself with these five key essentials to help you survive and thrive this year as a coach.

1. Map & Compass (Vision & Values)

For any expedition you first have to know where you’re going on your trip - so you can plan how to get there. It’s also important to know when you’ve gotten off course. So, this season, don't forget to pack your map (MAP = VISION) and compass (COMPASS = VALUES). 


Take time to think about where you want to go before you consider setting specific goals. Before the start of a new season, spend a little time dreaming about the season ahead.

Who do you want to be this year? What do you want to do? What would you like to have happen this season?

This step comes more from your heart - and why you're actually doing what you do as a coach. Goals are very much from that analytical part of your brain. With a vision, you don't have to know how to get there. You only have to get clear on the very next step. 

Take some time before your season starts to answer these three questions

  1. Who do you want to BE?
  2. What do you want to DO?
  3. What do you want to HAVE?

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Taking time to do this before your season starts helps you become more clear on the big picture for you and your team. Imagine going on an expedition and not being able to see a map of your entire route. Lead your team more effectively by having this clarity before the season starts and be able to anticipate the challenges you'll face along the way.


There are an infinite number of routes to choose from that would get you from point A to point Z this year. How will you know the best route to choose? Part of it will depend on the ability and the fitness level of your group. The other part will depend on your judgement and decision-making as the leader.  Do you want to take them straight up that hill or take some of the switchbacks? There will be times when you'll just need to give 'em a layover day...and have some fun at camp!

No matter how well you plan ahead and prepare for your season, there will always be unexpected challenges and obstacles that come up. Things may get busy, chaotic, and seem out of control. Almost like moving through a storm in a blizzard. You won't always be able to see where you need to go next.

Your values will help you navigate along and keep you pointed in the right direction. That's why having a compass is critical. Instead of going into reactive mode, or spinning your wheels, you can actually pull out your compass, take a deep breath, and get everyone back on track. 

Decide which values are most important to you for this year ahead of time. Then, get in the habit of checking in to make sure you’re on track.

When you encounter an obstacle or a hazard, take a moment to check that compass...before you react. The time you allow yourself - between an event and your response - can be your point of power this year!

  1. Look over a list of values
  2. Narrow down to the top 3-5. (Which are the MOST important to take into THIS season?)
  3. What does it look like when you're living these?
  4. What does it look like when you veer off course?


If you can overcome the tendency for your typical knee-jerk might just find you’re able to stay on course. Instead of taking the wrong turn, choosing the steeper path, or sliding backwards’re able to be the leader your team needs you to be and make that forward progress in the direction you really want to go.

Share ONE of your values AND how you will know when you're on track this season in the comments below.

Stay tuned!  Next week, I'll share the next essential you'll want to put in your pack.

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