If you’ve coached for any period of time you’ve attended clinics, seminars and conventions with respect to your education as a coach. Clinicians can strike a chord concerning your team when you think, “Wow! I can use that with my team.” That awareness created by the clinician is great, but is it long lasting? The lessons learned from being in front of, and working with your team in tough or joyous moments may teach you far more. That experience of seeing and feeling the outcome of strong leadership, shared leadership or no leadership cannot be duplicated in a presentation or session.
I’m not talking about the technical or tactical aspect of your game. I’m talking about the communication (spoken and unspoken), interaction, trust and leadership necessary to hold a team together, even in the toughest times.
Moments that taught me the most were those that involved my team. Here are a few:
· No smart phone video is necessary. Your actions and words will be ingrained in my mind for a lifetime.
· We are all unique individuals, please don’t treat us the same.
· We may disagree with you, either vocally or by our actions. Don’t take it personally.
· Winning at all costs may not be our highest priority.
· There will be times when we just need a break. Doesn’t mean we’re not dedicated.
· Highlighting one or more of us over and over again will create animosity.
· We often over react to issues. Teach us how to better deal with them.
· I know I made a mistake, yelling won’t help. Show me how to correct it.
· We don’t know it all, although we think we do. Ask for our opinions and input on decisions that impact our team.
· Remember to celebrate our small victories and adventures along the journey.
· After a hard fought game may not be the best time to share your anger.
· We don’t want to discipline each other. It’s your job.
· We may not totally understand the long term implications and importance of winning a championship.
· Encourage us. It will make a difference.
· Never give up on us. We can read it in your words and actions.
· Talent requires decisive and shared leadership to be successful.
· Trust our decisions in key situations. If not, who will make our decisions in life when you’re gone?
· If you didn’t emphasize it or practice it, you have no right to be upset with anyone but yourself.
· Five years from now I may not remember a particular game, but I will remember a completely hilarious moment.
· My life will be influenced by your positive or negative actions.
· Be consistent when holding a player accountable, regardless of status.
· Challenge me to be the best player I can become, even when I object.
· Our respect for you must be earned, not just because you’re the coach.
· When you make a mistake, admit it.
· Drop the word “my” and insert “our” when using the word team.
I’m a huge advocate of attending as many clinics, seminars and conventions as possible having been a member of United Soccer Coaches for over twenty years. The speakers and clinicians are world class and have valuable messages to impart on all of us. The true test of that message that flipped your light switch will be the lab you work in every day, your team. Those special individuals who look to you for guidance and direction will teach you more than you will ever know. Without their feedback, reactions, and even objections we can’t always be sure if our decisions are in the best interest of our team.
It may not be a “Wow Moment”, but if you listen intently every day your team is teaching you how to become a better coach. For that be thankful.
I wish you and your team the best!