What can coaches learn from olympians?

March 10, 2014 at 9:50 PMZoomBlog

We’ve all heard stories about pro athletes and the pre-game rituals they go through to make sure they’re in the zone, flow, etc when it comes time to perform.  We see it now more than ever during the Sochi games.  You saw what Kate Hansen does prior to an event to get herself in the right state of mind.

So my question is this: if it works for them, and they’re the best in the world, what’s your pregame routine as a coach?  What do you rehearse on your way to training?  What are your thoughts as you arrive at practice?

If you don’t have one, I suggest you do.  When you arrive at training or games in a better state, your players can tell.  Not only will you be at your best, you’ll be able to build rapport at a much deeper level and your feedback (ie coaching) will be spot on.

But don’t take my word for it.  Try it for yourself – deliberately practice your own routine and see if you can feel a difference

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Take an interest and condition

March 8, 2014 at 5:28 AMZoomBlog


How to build it?  Heard a great example from a fantastic coach named Tosh Farrell.  At a recent convention, he had the players in a different state of mind, not because it was a whiz bang session (although it was great!), but because he was in a fantastic state and because he could build rapport.  

How did it do it?  Simple.  He took an interest.

A player showed up with a Rooney jersey.  Guess what he called that player during the entire session, “Rooney.”  How do you think this player felt being called by the name of his boyhood hero? 

Do you think he had an extra pep in his step?

On a surface level, he was building tons of rapport.  Awesome.

But what’s outstanding is this: Tosh was conditioning his players to have a positive association with soccer.  He was linking up in the players' heads: soccer practice = feels good.  Go to training, feel good.  Go to training, feel good.  Go to training, feel good.

What do you think happens over the course a season if the coach can routinely link up playing to feeling good?  It's just like how Pavlov's dogs would salivate when he would ring a bell.  It’s cliché, but children, especially children, remember not what you said, but how you made them feel.

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March 6, 2014 at 9:18 PMZoomBlog

Do you “have to go to training” or do you “get to go to training?”

When bad things happen during a game do you question, “why does this always happen,” or “how is this a gift?”

Do you like to coach because “it keeps me actively involved in the game” or because “I can pass on what I’ve learned and inspire the children?”

You see, it’s a small difference between each pair above.  But when you reframe what you focus on, it gives each scenario a different feel.  And from which frame do you think you’ll be at your brightest and best?  Good, your players will thank you.

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Thank you Mrs. Davis

March 5, 2014 at 7:13 PMZoomBlog

A lot has been written about how “70% of kids will drop out of organized sports by the age of 13.”  Not quite sure how the National Alliance for Youth Sports came to this conclusion, but let’s humor them and pretend that it’s the truth. (Disclaimer: I have no reason to doubt them.  My interest is not in their statistical methods, but rather how do we solve the problem).

Not to be captain obvious here, but that means that only 3 kids out of 10 will stick to a sport!  That’s a big retention problem!  And I’m sure we can all draw conclusions from this stat, but let’s face it: kids or people in general quit stuff when it becomes no longer fun. 

No matter how much my mom tried to sell me on how important it was to practice my major and relative minor scales, I didn’t enjoy taking piano lessons.  I remember I would wait to the last minute and work on my music theory on my way to piano in the car.  I can tell you that trying to write musical notes on the staff is difficult going over bumps in the road!

When I finally worked up the courage to tell my piano teacher Mrs. Davis that I was finished with piano, I thought I would get a different reaction.  I thought she would try to sell me on why I should stick with it and that I’d regret it later (a tactic that was all too familiar from my mom!).  But she stoicly got up from her chair next to the piano and disappeared for a few minutes.  And when she reappeared with an old book that was held together with tape in one hand a cassette player (yes, I said cassette) in the other hand, I was perplexed.  She put the book on the piano, opened it to a certain page and I read the words: “Moonlight Sonata.”  She then pressed the play button the cassette player, and it was then that I realized I wasn’t going to quit.

She had worked me over!  “Damn you Mrs. Davis,” I thought!  “I was so close to quitting, and you go and pull this on me!”

What made her an outstanding teacher or coach, is that she knew how to create the conditions in piano so that I would enjoy what I was doing.  Because we had a strong rapport, and she knew how I liked a good challenge, she created the optimal challenge: learn to play a beautiful song and test yourself along the way.” 

She was a feedback master because she knew how to get me to see that I really wanted to keep playing.  That all I wanted was to have some fun and be challenged at the same time.

It makes me wonder about that 70% number.  I think if coaches, teachers, etc. were more like Mrs. Davis and knew how to build rapport like her, that number would start to drop.

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