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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3 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 due to a lack of leadership on their team.

I ask them specifically what they mean.

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 they’re 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.

And sure...it's a legitimate place to start.

If you define a leader as someone who has influence then your team captains and your senior class probably have a lot of influence on your team. And as all coaches know their influence is not always positive!

Before you throw in the towel and chalk it up to a 'lack of leadership', let's look at leadership from a different angle.

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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.

SOMETHING’S UP

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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WARNING: Now You've Chosen Your Word-of-the-Year

Last week, I wrote about choosing a word-of-the-year. This week I want to get real with you.

Setting an intention should come with a WARNING.

It’s not what most people talk about.

All you hear about is the excitement of the New Year.

If you examine things a little closer, .the first thing you might notice are the things you DON'T want to come up. 

Which may lead you to question your intention. 

You may think things like...

  • "That didn’t work...again."

  • "Maybe there’s something wrong with me."

  • “I guess I chose the wrong word.”

It takes a little more trust and faith to see your intention through.

My coach uses the analogy of a gardener. 

You've just planted a seed for the new year.

When you plant a seed, you don’t get flowers shooting up out of the right away.

Growth takes time.

The first thing that comes up when you plant a seed is all the dirt.

So, look out! 

Pay attention to things unlike your word that come your way…especially during these first few months of the year. 

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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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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 at one of the top programs in the country and yet, 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. 

Have you ever experienced any symptoms of burnout?

  • Physical and emotional fatigue or exhaustion

  • Disconnect between job and responsibilities

  • Cynicism, isolation, or detachment

  • Feeling unimportant or ineffective

  • Lack of passion 

[Click here for a self test on burnout.]

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