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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How Do You Continue To Grow As A Coach?

Have you ever thought to yourself how amazing the coaching profession would be…if you didn’t have any difficult athletes, staff, or administrators to deal with?

Coaching is 90% how you relate to people and how they relate to you.

To be able to be relatable you have to understand yourself first. 

Plenty of coaches “hide” behind the X’s and the O’s. They think that tactics and fundamentals are the most important things and they really don’t want to even deal with other “stuff”.  

I believe it's the other “stuff” that makes a coach great!

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Your REAL Value As A Coach (HINT: It's Not What the Scoreboard Says)

I caught up with a coach the other day who was really bummed out.

She had just finished her season.

Her team had competed well, yet she was frustrated.

Her competitors also had strong performances.

Last year her team would have been four places higher in the overall team standings...with the same results. She told her team what she thought they were capable of achieving...they did it...and yet those results weren't reflected on the scoreboard.

She had originally planned to take some much needed downtime after the season.

Now, she was questioning her time off..."What would my boss say if I take time off...when what I really need is to sign another recruit to help our team next season? I don't feel we did well enough for me to deserve any kind of a break."

I'm wondering if you can relate? Have you ever felt like this? 

POST SEASON DIP

There can be a normal let down at the end of the season - no matter how well your team performed. 

Many coaches - if they're being honest - either feel flawed in some way OR feel the need to constantly prove themselves. 

Unless you've just won the national championship, there's always room to improve.

Even then, if you've talked to any national championship coach after they've won...the pressure and expectations simply go up instead of down.

It's so easy to let the results on the scoreboard define you.

It's also easy to let the outside world dictate how you FEEL about yourself.

It's easy...and it's not helpful! 

This kind of thinking makes you shrink and contract.  This kind of thinking does not move you forward. 

These kinds of thoughts don't help you grow and expand. 

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What Makes A Coach Want To Quit?

I get calls from coaches every season.

They want to come to a coaching summit, but they're not even sure if they want to coach next season.

They think they want to quit.

They ask, “Should I even come to the summit?

They worry about "being a distraction" or "being a downer" to the group.

When I ask them what's up, it usually goes something like this:

"It was a really long, hard season. I haven’t talked to anyone else about the challenges I’m facing. It’s just gotten worse and worse all season long. Even if I had someone to talk to, I wouldn’t even know where to start!”

- OR -

"I’m the only female on my staff. There are things that I would do so differently. Maybe it’s just me though. I bring things up - that I think are important and they just blow it off. Or…they say it’s a good idea but things never ever change. I feel like all my feedback and ideas are just a total waste of time. I’m so frustrated. I think I'm just done with coaching."

- OR -

"I worked so hard this year. We didn't get the results I was hoping for...again. It’s almost as if any decision I make is going to come with complaints and resistance - from athletes, parents, the administration….and even my staff. I seriously can't win! I'm not sure it's worth all this effort."

I'd imagine there isn’t a single coach out there who hasn’t questioned their decision to be a coach - at least once (or maybe multiple times) - every single year.

When a coach brings up the possibility of quitting at a summit, they are often surprised to find out how many other coaches have been there, too.

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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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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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