I hope the title didn’t scare you off because this is a really really important topic! I think the eschooltoday.com definition is very good: “An ecosystem includes all of the living things in a given area, interacting with each other, and also with their non-living environments.” Essentially, it is the entire environment around you and how everything works together to become symbiotic so each organism can flourish. Unfortunately, the EGOsystem is almost the exact opposite. It is the entire environment designed to serve ONE ORGANISM and ensure that that singular organism flourishes. Albeit – other organisms may also flourish or improve for a short period of time but that is a by-product not a function.
It is essential that the athletic director is the leading factor in creating an athletic ecosystem that is designed for the growth and development of every student-athlete and coach. When one organism is allowed to take more resources or has different rules of interaction with the ecosystem it becomes an EGOsystem. If one team has different rules or is governed differently or one (or more) coach(es) has more or less leniency than another, that environment is not designed with all organisms best interest in mind which creates a toxic EGOsystem.
The reason I mention the athletic directors first is that as a former AD I noticed quickly that the ECOsystem I put forth for the athletic department was immediately seen in some form or fashion in the teams within the department. One thing I noticed immediately was that my drive to continuing winning as the head football and wrestling coach spilled over into other programs. Although you may be asking why is that a bad thing? The reason was some of the coaches were now spending significantly more time on the coaching aspect of their job during school hours which as you know is a no-no.
When coaches are involved in an EGOsystem they feel empowered to win at all costs without concern for the well being of their athletes or the other teams around them. The singularity of purpose can be consuming. When the energy of winning starts to cover everything around it, it becomes suffocating and debilitating. Players best interests, the teams best interests and the programs best interests become a side note in the quest to get one more win or that elusive state championship.
Here are 7 Indicators that you have an EGOsystem:
1) Your coaches only challenge you on small items
2) You are always concerned with the next win
3) You have a retention problem in your program
4) You have a parent problem in your program
5) You have a communication problem in your program
6) You have an open door policy that doesn’t get used
7) You program has a “my way or the highway” approach to the athletes
If you have subscribed to the 7SecondCoach Video Newsletter there are in depth explanations of each of these 7 indicators and more discussion on this topic.
Be aware that a decade ago this type of program may have produced some pretty good teams, but times have changed. The hardest part of change is realizing that the need to change doesn’t mean you were doing anything wrong. Changing is a natural function of the world of sports. From the Power-I to Spread offenses, from Post Play to 5-Out offenses, from Singles & Doubles to Funk. In an ecosystem the environment adapts to the changes it faces for the survival of all organisms. It is critical that you acknowledge that the landscape of athletics has changed and adjustments must be made to see your program flourish!
If you would like to discuss what those changes look like and who they can be incorporated into your program reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I don’t post very often on Fridays because everyone has a lot going on – like us. But as we get ready to head out this morning to our National Qualifier it struck me that we have been using the phrase The Hay Is In The Barn this week! It is true, all of the hard work happens before the hay gets in etc barn and once it’s in your work is done! The challenge is that too often coaches don’t coach that way!
At some point the realization is that the players are playing and the coaches really can’t do much about it after the lights come on and the whistle blows. The coach has to have comfort in the that has been done before the first tick of the clock has been complete and done well enough that the athletes are ready to compete. That doesn’t mean that a coach shouldn’t coach but you know what I’m talking about, screaming every second for every athlete and what they’re supposed to do every single second. That is not coaching that is babysitting!
That’s why it is so important that every coach has the most effective practices possible and has removed the communication barriers for the best learning to occur. Coaches that coach to reduce or eliminate competitive anxiety allow their athletes to perform better than coaches that constantly yell at their athlete what to do every second.
Think about this, if you had someone in your ear every single second of every single practice yelling at you about what you should be coaching you would get irritated and have them removed from your practice – right! Why does that scenario all of a sudden change for your athletes?? Often the answer I get is “Well – they don’t know what they’re doing.” My response is always the same – “then what are you doing in practice? Isn’t that your only job as a coach – to prepare your athletes with what they need to know to be successful in competition?” That is ALWAYS met with gruff silence. Being at a place that saying The Hay Is In The Barn is a reality is the goal because you know and your athletes know that the work has been done and they can relax and enjoy competition.
The point of that statement is not to say coaches are not good at what they do but rather to create awareness in that there is a disconnect between what you think you are teaching and coaching and what the final product is in competition. As soon as you (the coach) get the practice product to look exactly like the competition product then you are on your way to great success. The next question is – how do we do that!
That is where your internal team language, :60 lessons, :07 terms, practice pace, competition executions and so on become so important. Yes – you may have to change some of your practice tactics to make sure this happens but isn’t that the reality of athletics – the coach who makes the best adjustments wins??
If you would like to discuss how to become a The Hay Is In The Barn coach and other championship level coaching techniques and tactics reach out to me at email@example.com I would love to have a conversation with you!
The challenge that most coaches are facing is that they have refused to accept that change has occurred without their permission. The entire time they were doing things the “Old School Way” they forgot to look out the window and see that the landscape changed right before their very eyes. Now there is a massive internal struggle to rationalize and justify the way they’ve always done things which is not returning the success it used to with the reality that to become a contender they have to accept they must change just like the landscape did!
So today we have this war between the old and the new. Unfortunately, regardless of which side you are on (the old or the new) the other side plays a huge part in the success you need to advance your career. That’s right – the coaches NEED THEIR players to perform at their very best so they can reach their career goals just like the players need their coaches to be at their very best in developing them to reach their full potential so they can reach their goals. This is where everyone gets all a flutter! Fortunately if you learn where to invest your time with your athletes you will get their very best and that is the best thing for your career!
Click HERE to get your FREE PDF COPY of the 7 Coaching Investments That Will Change You & Your Athletes Career
I watched a program run off 4 players, that means they will not even be at the school, with another 7 players who are committed to not playing next year – all over a commitment to an outdated coaching philosophy that does not have the players best interest in mind. There is a key element to the Old School mentality that lands in a vast wasteland with the athletes of today – Athletic Trust. It is this element in athletics today that will drive a teams success or failure far faster than the talent on the field, court, mat or diamond.
In the “Old” days you could earn trust with winning percentages or championships. In today’s world that is not a reality. I often hear coaches talking about their winning percentages and how that should make their athletes listen and fall in line, my question to them is always the same: “has that worked in the past 10 years?” The resounding answer is always – no – or – some kids respond to it, showing their commitment to being right instead of successful.
The athletes that you coach today require you to invest in the relationship that you have with them. Today’s athlete requires a much deeper commitment than wins and losses to earn their trust. It is this commitment to building solid, fundamental relationships that earns the athletes trust. When you have invested enough to earn the athletes trust, THEN AND ONLY THEN will you get the BEST VERSION of that athlete. That is the key to success. Understanding this concept may actually mean you will decide to not be a coach any longer – why you ask?
The time investment into building the relationships with every player on your team is non-negotiable and massively significant. It requires a level of sacrifice in the other areas of your life (spouse, children, vacation, financial resources and even sleep) that very few are willing to make. What most coaches do is only build relationships with a few of the members of the team and then demand compliance using the “old school” rationalization. Then when the accusations of favoritism and ineffective coaching practices start flying around, it is more of a reality than a fantasy.
If your goal as a coach is to get the very best out of every athlete on your team, no matter what their position or level of contribution, then it is essential that you make adjustments to your communication and leadership style. We all know that the most successful coaches are the ones that make the right adjustments! It’s time for you to look out the window and see that the landscape has changed and make the appropriate adjustments.
Click HERE to get your FREE PDF COPY of the 7 Coaching Investments That Will Change You & Your Athletes Career
Months ago I started talking with a recruit from a state far far away, and as those general conversations grew into probing conversations on both ends I decided to take a trip to see him compete. Knowing that I was going out to the state tournament I did two things that every coach & athlete need to know!
Athletes: You’re Always On!
I watched athletes warm-up and they’re behavior right after the competition. How you compete is only a part of your package. I even looked for our top recruits in the stands to see their non-match demeanor.
**In one match there was an athlete that we were looking at that lost a close match on a controversial call. His demeanor wasn’t ideal but it wasn’t terrible – BUT – he made an effort to go out of his way to bump into his opponent and knock him into a table – he immediately came off our recruiting board!
Coaches: Respond To Your Emails
I sent out an email to coaches letting them know that I would be at the state tournament. Why a coach would not respond is beyond me but I had way more coaches NOIT respond to my request for their seniors and top athletes. The result is that many kids that may be high quality didn’t get an opportunity to be offered our 20,000.00 scholarship.
** One coach reached out and said he had two remarkable young men that he felt would be great additions to a program at the next level. I made sure to position myself front and center when they competed and found two young men that are absolute game changers! These two athletes are now looking at 20,000.00 scholarships and the opportunity to compete at the next level!!
Now for a side note for athletes that is really important:
I discovered multiple NEW prospects by watching the recruits I came to see. That means no matter when you compete, big stage or little event – you never know when someone will be there to see what you do and WHO you are! Understand that college coaches are watching way more then just what happens during the whistles. Your bench demeanor, post failure actions, communication level with the coach and your teammates, there are so many thing other than your talent level that are important.
Now for a side note for coaches that is really important:
Know The Process & The Levels! I had some great conversations this weekend with coaches who were thankful to get information on how the recruiting process actually worked and the difference between the levels of competition in college. Unfortunately the only level really getting any press is DI which has some of the fewest athletes in most sports. There are incredible opportunities outside of the glitz and glamour of DI TV sports! The experience and education is often as good if not better. Know your athletes and know the levels so you can place them in the best environment possible so they have the most success possible!
Last Note: I did a home visit while I was on this recruiting trip and that is truly where the rubber meets the road! Get into the homes of your athletes – that is where you learn WHO they are. You see the pictures on the wall, if their dogs are trained, if they take out the trash and so on. The home visit is for you and the campus visit is for them. I know you cant visit them all but you need to get into the homes of your top recruits!!
If you would like to learn more about how to have successful recruiting trips like the one I just had reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org or go to the College Coaches Solution Page at 7SecondCoach.com
On a recent recruiting trip I was speaking with a group of coaches who asked me a question — “how do we get the best athletes out and when they do come out, how do we keep them out?” I asked them a question a question before I answered — “I have an answer and I think it is the real job of every coach, but it may not be the answer you want to hear, do you still want to hear it?” Resoundingly the answer was yes, so I told them exactly what I am about to tell you!
The REAL coach has 5 components to their job no matter the level:
1) Identify Talent
2) Position Projection
3) Athlete Retention
4) Athlete Development
5) Athlete Connection
If these four components are not at the forefront of your coaching staffs priorities then you are missing out on wins and championships while failing in the responsibility to give your athletes a shot at the next level.
Identifying talent is probably the area that coaches miss on the most. Usually what happens is there is a talented athlete and the coach gravitates to that player and then hangs their hat on him. Which is entirely different then evaluating every athlete and seeing the lump of coal that can be turned into a diamond. It is that athlete that wins championships. Similarly to the Michael Jordan Bulls – when MJ was the only player rocking the house they were average, as soon as they developed and mixed in some of the other players they won 6 NBA Championships. The ability to identify talent is a skill that often can’t be taught and is why so often you see one or two teams always in the hunt for the championship.
When you couple the ability to identify talent with properly projecting positions, this is really where the great ones start to pull away. When you see a superstar running back turned into an All-American corner or a great post player developed as a 4 or a catcher turned 1st baseman. When a coach identifies that a player will be great and can project that players position, then skill #3 becomes invaluable to the program.
Athlete development is obviously a part of coaching. The difference is that this phase is effected by the previous two phases. Having a plan that is executable to develop an athletes skill set at an identified position that you as the coach believe that this player will be great in and become a major contributor — is how dynasty’s are built. When you see teams that have undersized players or unknown players that are causing havoc in competition, its because they’ve been developed to do that. If you as a coach think that a player will become a superstar simply because you put them in the game and tell them to perform you are not getting the REAL job of coaching. Your job is to build players into superstars not just wait for them to show up and make you look good!
The fourth phase of your REAL job is to retain athletes. Unfortunately there are to many coaches who subscribe to the “My Way or the Highway” mentality without an understanding of the most important part of that mentality – RESPECT! If you are a coach and you still think that kids are going to buy-into your program and do as you say because you will “PUNISH” them – YOU need to turn in your whistle! That is simply an archaic and ineffective coaching strategy that has been proven time and time again to NEVER get consistent results. The athletes of today are different and it’s not a bad different. They are smarter and more intellectual than ever before. You cannot get their best by using the mid-evil practices of humiliation and intimidation. If you want your athletes to DO IT YOUR WAY then you need to connect with them THEIR WAY. If you meet them where their at and build a relationship you will get more than you could have ever imagined out of that athlete. However, if you use the old school iron fist and dictatorship style these athletes will simply do the minimum, retreat and eventually quit. The problem is that you often lose athletes that could have been major contributors and potential game changers, but you allowed ego and tradition to get in the way. When you retain athletes you eventually have a system that is learned at the lower levels by underclassman and executed at the upper levels by upperclassmen. Rarely will you HAVE to use a Freshman or Sophomore at an upper level.
An old coach once told me — “every time you start a sophomore on Varsity you will have 1 big negative play per game,” – Joe Timpani, Seton Catholic High School. The crazy thing is that from that time forward I started watching for that and he was right! If you are trying to win at the most elite levels of sport with underclassman, because you’ve lost players along the way, you need to look at your coaching philosophy.
And finally, the last but MOST IMPORTANT skill is effectively connecting with your athletes. When coaches take the time to do this, the other four skills start to become much easier. Kids will work harder for coaches who they have a positive connection with. Kids will stay out and not quit or transfer for coaches who they have a positive connection with. Kids will positively accept change or different positions without hesitation for coaches who they think have their best interest in mind. On the flip side, coaches who expect kids to buy-in without connections can never get over that hump! Their athletes simply won’t go into deep water for that coach making it tough to win the big ones!
There is a staggering number of coaches that refuse to accept that this is the REAL job of a coach and THEY need to make some changes in order to build these critical skills and add them to their coaching repertoire! In general it is those same coaches that are struggling to win championships and keep kids in their programs.
If you want to improve in these 5 critical coaching skill areas feel free to reach out to me at email@example.com
I also learned and was reminded of how to properly and appropriately communicate with your child athlete. Remembering to keep a positive attitude and environment. Non-verbal messages and cues are very hurtful when they see them from their parent. I know I can as a coach and parent work on that skill.
This video really got me thinking how today’s athlete is much different from 15 years ago. I appreciated this video series touching on this point and that it doesn’t make them worse/better… just different. Throughout the video and the different modules it did a great job of trying to meet the learning style of today’s athlete through .60 lessons and having better communication with everyone involved.
The Coaching Series did a great job of making me think as a coach about my coaching techniques. The 7Second Coaching strategies will help me get my athletes engaged and be infinitely more productive as a coach.