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 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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Three Stories That Hold Coaches Back

We all have stories we tell ourselves. Some stories originated to protect us and helped us grow into the people we are today. There comes a time when these same stories no longer serve us. They hold us back.

Here are 3 stories I see coaches struggle with all the time.


How it shows up...

You hand a project off to someone on your staff. It doesn’t get done right. Instead of taking the time to get really clear on your specific expectations of what it looks like when it’s done and done go ahead and just do it yourself.

As a coach, you are capable of a lot. You are good at juggling a lot of things - all at once. Does the fact that you CAN do it mean you SHOULD do it? Of course not!

Where it originated...

Perhaps it originated from a time when you became more independent in your life. You learned that you COULD do some things by yourself - instead of having your parents help or do it for you. There comes a time when this story no longer serves you.

What to try instead...

First of all, take the time to get clear when you delegate something. Make sure you tell that person what you're expectations are and be prepared to give them constructive feedback if it doesn't meet your standards. 

Next, get creative about the things you hand off. Here's a great example of this...

One of the coaches I work with has a lot on her plate. She’s a new mom, a wife, a coach, and a teacher.

She started thinking of where she felt stress, resentment, and anxiety. The first area was cooking. The second was cleaning. She's figured out two new things to delegate: 

  1. She now subscribes to a weekly food service. A box arrives each week with new recipes and fresh ingredients. She looks forward to seeing what shows up...and her family has loved the meals!
  2. Next, she hired a cleaning service to come twice a month. Her husband does a better job of picking up before the cleaning service comes and they both enjoy a fresh, clean home on a regular basis.

Boom. She describes these changes as, "timesavers and lifesavers." 

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Three different ways to look at leadership that will help every single athlete on your team

One thing I hear from coaches all the time is that their team is struggling because of a 'lack of leadership'.

I ask them what they mean by that phrase 'lack of leadership'.

They often talk about team captains who aren't doing their job "because they're afraid to hold people accountable" or a few of their seniors have "checked out...just biding their time until their done."

"Okay," I respond..."so, what about the rest of your team? What's the leadership like on the rest of your team?

This question usually stumps them. Because most coaches are only thinking about their team captains or seniors when they think about leadership.

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Five Things To Do If You Don't Have Enough Time

Is it possible you have more time than you think? Most coaches I know talk about how busy they are and how they don't have ANY time do to ANYthing else.

It's time to get real honest and clear about where to set boundaries and what can be removed from your plate. Take a look at your habits, your mindset, and begin to examine some of the little things you do all the time.

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5 simple questions to ask your athletes about leadership

Leadership is such a hot topic for coaches and teams....especially at the beginning of the season when teams are at the forming stage of group development - all new and nice! 

There are tons of different books, many different views, and some strong opinions about 'how one should lead' and 'be led'.

It's not easy to be a leader!  Everyone has a different style.  Are you born with it? 

Leaders need to be adaptable to who they are leading and take into account the specific situation they are in. With all of this information, how do you figure out what to do? It seems so elusive! There's so much to say, where do you even start?

As a coach, you are a leader. Whether you consciously think about it or not, you teach your athletes about leadership every single day. Take some time to talk about it and be prepared to coach your athletes on how to develop into better leaders.

In leadership - as with your sport - there are skills that can be learned and developed to improve.

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Leadership from the Heart

written by Erica Quam


The late Maya Angelou said, "Some of the things I know, I know because older women have told me their secrets.  I am living long so that I can share my secrets with younger women. That's the reason we women go on improving."

I'm in Chicago getting ready to give a TED-style talk to a group of women coaches at an event called, The Huddle on Friday.  This event is the big event of the year for The Alliance of Women Coaches.  I'm very excited to be here!

I changed my original talk because I got some great feedback from a group of coaches who are very dear to me.  They told me I needed to be more authentic and share more about myself and more about a group of coaches who have changed my life.  They were right.  I sometimes have a difficult time talking about myself.  I was trying to tell a story that wasn't my story.  So - I'll be speaking from my heart and sharing my story.

Here are a few of the things I'll be talking about on Friday:

To lead from the heart, begin with awareness.
Awareness is a leadership skill.  It takes awareness to connect to your intuition.  It's important to have awareness so you can make decisions based on how you feel instead of what other people think.

To lead from the heart, find a place to share your story.
We humans spend a lot of time stuffing things down...and not dealing with our emotions...we cope and deal with lots of things...just to get through the day. There comes a time where it's important to let people know how you are really doing.  Find a space where you can share what's actually going on for you. You may learn that you aren't the only one who has "stuff" going on below the surface!

To lead from the heart, work on yourself.
When we judge, criticize, or blame others for things that happen to just isn't helpful.  It's good to be able to vent to someone and blow off steam, AND to create lasting changes in your life, look inwards.  Look at yourself first when you want to improve a situation or a relationship.  Ask yourself, what piece is yours that you can work on to make it better?  The reality is, we can't change anyone but ourselves.  So, the more we work on ourselves, the better we will be able to connect with others.

To lead from the heart, take time for yourself.
I know that it's hard to put yourself first.  I struggle with it myself!  However, I know that those times where I've taken a nap, I've gotten a massage, I've set some limits or simply said no to something - I'm usually a happier person. When we're happier people, we're better people.

I'm looking forward to connecting and collaborating with women who are passionate about coaching along with coaches from all sports, all levels, from all over the country.

I just hope I can remember everything I want to say!

Has this article inspired you?  Please pass it along!  Do you have any insight or ah-ha's that you got from reading it?  Share 'em below!