Tag: youth sports coach

The 4 Cornerstones Of Championship Culture – Part 7 Of 8- Leadership Development

‘We all need an unreasonable person in our life that holds us to a standard higher than we believe we can attain.’


The 4 Cornerstones of Championship Culture – WYC is excited to partner with Upward Sports to kick off 2017 with an exciting new way for your to raise your coaching game for you and your coaches!
4th Cornerstone – Developing Leaders
This week we have the privilege of learning from Jim Harshaw Jr.
Jim is a TedX speaker, a consultant, and a former Division I All American wrestler. He also hosts a podcast called Success through Failure.
Success through Failure
Jim is passionate about developing leaders who embrace failure as a necessary part of success. The failure along the way is only because we set our goals high. The more successful the person, the more failures they have in their past. You don’t see the grind and struggles and times they wanted to quit after they succeed, but it’s there. ‘Failure is an option. In fact, it’s quite likely.’ We should set audaciously high goals. Then reverse engineer the process it will take to get there. And then forget about the goal. All you can control is your actions. Set action goals.
Be an action taker and don’t let your fear of not reaching a lofty goal prevent you from shooting for it: ‘There are 2 pains in life: the pain of discipline, and the pain of regret’
Our special thanks to our corporate partner for this series – Upward Sports- check them out at upward.org!
Continue Reading

The Culture Journey Week #24 – Rough week

Week 24
Regular Season week #3
Positive Energy
Crazy weather this week so we only had 1 practice, and it was shortened because of a field conflict, so no goofy games or book reading this week.
Culture Update – Rough week
Felt like we took a few steps backwards this week. We only had 1 game, and to be honest I was embarrassed to be on our sideline. Our head coach berated several players very publicly, as well as berating me during a play he didn’t like how I coached the play. Felt like last year and some of the ground we had made took some serious steps backwards. He seemed a little more agitated than he had been recently, maybe something outside of lacrosse was bugging him. Either way it needs to be addressed, we are off the next week and a half for spring break, so I plan to talk with him about it when we get back in town. Hopefully we can nip it in the bud. It’s a little scary because when we get back we have back-to-back games against teams we lost to a combined 40-1 last year.

I am excited to walk this journey with you. I welcome any feedback, ideas, and suggestions you might have as you read through this. You are also welcome to share this with any other coaches you think could benefit from it, and please have them email me at [email protected] if they would like to be added to this email list.

If you are interested in diving deeper on building culture we have started a mastermind group that meets the first and third Wednesday of each month at 12:30 pm EST, see the details at: winningyouthcoaching.com/the-culture-bus-mastermind/. It is exciting to be with likeminded world-changers.

Continue Reading

The 4 Cornerstones Of Championship Culture – Part 6 Of 8- Leadership Development

‘If your dreams don’t scare you- you’re not dreaming big enough’ – Chasing the Lion
The 4 Cornerstones of Championship Culture – WYC is excited to partner with Upward Sports to kick off 2017 with an exciting new way for your to raise your coaching game for you and your coaches!
4th Cornerstone – Developing Leaders
This week we have the privilege of being joined by TJ Rosene, head basketball coach and 3x national coach of the year at Emmanuel College, director of coach development at PGC Basketball, and co-host of the Hardwood Hustle podcast.
Captains
TJ had a very unique answer when I asked him how his teams choose captains. He said they don’t. I was very interested in this idea, in fact I wrote a previous blog post about this: click here.
When leaders arise who he wouldn’t have chosen – he is honest with them and works to develop them and train them how to be a better leader. He is also honest about what the 2 or 3 behaviors are that will affect their teammates adversely if they don’t work on improving them or eliminating them.
Leadership development
The first step is asking the players who wants to lead. They create levels of leadership around 4 traits: Character, Courage, Consistency, Communication. They define levels 0 to 3 with tangible steps on to how to reach level 3 for each characteristic, which is hard to attain.
Our special thanks to our corporate partner for this series – Upward Sports- check them out at upward.org!
Continue Reading

The Culture Journey Week #23 – The Bus Trip

Week 23
Regular Season week #2
Positive Energy
I continued what I have affectionately self-named ‘Coach Craig’s Goofy Games‘ to start each practice.
This week’s best game:Great Teammate Tips Challenge
After one of our seniors shared the 2 new tips for the week from The Hard Hat, we broke into 4 teams: freshmen, sophomores, juniors, and seniors. I gave them each a page from the sketch pad which we use to write the tips on (by the way – love this sketch pad I bought for $14 on Amazon: link) and gave them each a Sharpie and asked them to write down as many of the 8 teammate tips they could remember. The correct number ranged from 3 to 7 (the seniors obviously had an advantage since they are reading the book.) It was good to get the groups brainstorming together, plus put the emphasis on how much are they really listening to these tips being presented by the seniors.
Culture Update – The Bus Trip
This weekend we had 1 of our 2 bus trips, a 3 hour ride over to Knoxville to play 2 varsity games and 1 JV game. I had been thinking about this for some time, because last year our bus trips were a bit shocking to me how immature and disrespectful much of the conversation was. We discussed this as a coaching staff, and decided rather than trying to ‘police’ the conversation, to instead fill the time with productive activity. We brought a DVD with the 2015 Div II lacrosse national championship game which was 1 hour 45 minutes long and played that as soon as we left. Then we spent the last hour bringing up the different position groups to the front of the bus with the coaches to discuss the gameplan for the day. This seemed to work really well and our mindset getting off the bus seemed to be much more focused and excited to play great lacrosse vs. last year where they were just goofing off and not focused. The results on the field paid off as well as we played a great first half and won the first game.
The return bus trip was less organized but we stopped for pizza then most of the boys fell asleep as it was a long day and we were all pretty exhausted. Overall it was a night and day better experience vs. last year.
We also continue to have the seniors presenting 2 of the teammate tips from Jon Gordon’s The Hard Hat, this weeks we covered points 7 and 8:
7 – Do it for your team, not for applause
8 – Show you are committed

Have a great week and keep fighting for your culture everyday!

I am excited to walk this journey with you. I welcome any feedback, ideas, and suggestions you might have as you read through this. You are also welcome to share this with any other coaches you think could benefit from it, and please have them email me at cra[email protected] if they would like to be added to this email list.

If you are interested in diving deeper on building culture we have started a mastermind group that meets the first and third Wednesday of each month at 12:30 pm EST, see the details at: winningyouthcoaching.com/the-culture-bus-mastermind/. It is exciting to be with likeminded world-changers.

Continue Reading

The 4 Cornerstones Of Championship Culture – Part 5 Of 8- Mental Toughness And Relational Resilience

‘In society we think of competition as going head to head with someone else and trying to beat them. But if you look at the Latin root of the word – it means To Strive Together. You put your best foot forward and I’ll put my best foot forward. Even if I lose, I will thank you as my competitor for bringing your best that day.’ – Joe Ehrmann, paraphrased
The 4 Cornerstones of Championship Culture – WYC is excited to partner with Upward Sports to kick off 2017 with an exciting new way for your to raise your coaching game for you and your coaches!
3rd Cornerstone – Creating Mentally Tough Athletes
This week we learn from Sara Erdner, PhD student in Sport Psychology & Motor Behavior at the University of Tennessee.
Sara has done research in the area of resilience, and here are 5 keysher research has uncovered as the keys to being resilient:
1 – Positive outlook
2 – Intrinsically motivated
3 – Focused
4 – Confident
5 – Perceived social support is high
Sara also has done a deeper dive into the fifth point which is about relationships. Emotional support is the key and the concept of empathy is critical. Empathy is striving to put yourself in the other person’s shoes.Empathy is important to overcoming and working through the shame that has been put on you by your parents or coaches or others in your life.
Some of these are harder to control than others – but certainly choosing to be positive, to be focused, and to show empathy to others are things we can control with our choices every day.
Our special thanks to our corporate partner for this series – Upward Sports- check them out at upward.org!
Continue Reading

The Culture Journey Week #22 – Defining Who We Are

Week 22
Regular Season week #1
Positive Energy
I continued what I have affectionately self-named ‘Coach Craig’s Goofy Games‘ to start each practice.
This week’s best game:Towel Tug-of-War King-of-the-Mountain Style
We repeated the towel tug of war game I have previously described (to see the details click here), but this time we did it king of the mountain style. I sorted our roster by approximate size and weight and put them in ascending order so we started with the smallest 3 athletes first. Then whoever won got to stay and we brought in the next 2 kids. So if you kept winning you remained king of the mountain. It’s always fun to see surprising kids step up, we had one of our first year players win 5 matches in a row at one point.
Culture Update – Defining Who We Are
This week was quite a roller-coaster ride on our culture journey. It started with a game last Saturday that was quite embarrassing to be part of. We played selfishly, we played recklessly, and we got in a fight which included one player from each team getting ejected. But instead of letting this define us, we used it to fuel a heart-to-heart with our team at practice on Monday. We discussed whether we wanted to be known for being a chippy scrappy team that easily lost their focus, or whether we wanted to be known for being a smart, aggressive, great lacrosse team that respects the game and their opponents. We tied in our ROOTS core values and discussed respect for the officials and opponents particularly. It was a great discussion, but of course you always wonder who much of it will actually play out when push comes to shove in a game.
We had our next game on Wednesday. We won a hard-fought game against a solid opponent 6-5. We only had 1 or 2 penalties, we played unselfishly, and we respected the officials and opponents. What a turnaround in one game. Maybe we needed everything to go wrong in that first game to see the picture of what we don’t want to represent.It did, and we will continue to use that as a reminder that we have to be continually focusing on our respect for our ROOTS values.
We also continue to have the seniors presenting 2 of the teammate tips from Jon Gordon’s The Hard Hat, this weeks we covered points 5 and 6:
5 – Share Positive Contagious Energy
6 – Don’t complain
Have a great week and keep fighting for your culture everyday!

I am excited to walk this journey with you. I welcome any feedback, ideas, and suggestions you might have as you read through this. You are also welcome to share this with any other coaches you think could benefit from it, and please have them email me at [email protected] if they would like to be added to this email list.

If you are interested in diving deeper on building culture we have started a mastermind group that meets the first and third Wednesday of each month at 12:30 pm EST, see the details at: winningyouthcoaching.com/the-culture-bus-mastermind/. It is exciting to be with likeminded world-changers.

Continue Reading

The 4 Cornerstones Of Championship Culture – Part 4 Of 8- Creating Mentally Tough Athletes

The best aren’t born that way. They work harder and practice more to master their craft.’ – Jon Gordon
The 4 Cornerstones of Championship Culture – WYC is excited to partner with Upward Sports to kick off 2017 with an exciting new way for your to raise your coaching game for you and your coaches!
3rd Cornerstone – Creating Mentally Tough Athletes
This week we learn from Pete Jacobson, founder of Win Smarter and long time wrestling coach in New York
Pete has his teams focus on 3 things to create a culture of mentally tough athletes:
1 – Focus on the process not the outcome
2 – Embrace failure as a necessary step towards success
3 – For the kids to embrace #’s 1 and 2 – you need to embrace and live these as their coach
Do these 3 steps and you will create fearless athletes who are not afraid of failure. Their mental approach will be to embrace and get excited for challenges instead of fearing them.
Our special thanks to our corporate partner for this series – Upward Sports- check them out at upward.org!
Continue Reading

The Culture Journey Week #21 – Ninja Entourage & Coaching Staff Trust

Week 21
Spring practice week #4
Positive Energy
I continued what I have affectionately self-named ‘Coach Craig’s Goofy Games‘ to start each practice.
This week’s best game: Ninja Entourage
Shout out to Scott Hearon for teaching me this one:
Partner off. Do the motion of shaking the other person’s hand, but, point your pointer finger straight out towards the other person. When game starts, both players try to touch their pointer finger to any part of the other persons body except the arm he is fighting with. Whoever touches wins. Winners advance and find other winners to compete against, whoever lost joins the entourage of whoever beat them. Keep going until you’re down to 2 people for the championship match.
Culture Update
Our coaching staff continues to improve our internal trust and respect of one another. This takes time. The 8 week sessions we did in the off-season seem to be creeping into a higher trust and respect level amongst one another. With the understanding that the most important way we can influence our team’s culture is to demonstrate teamwork as a coaching staff.
We also continue to have the seniors presenting 2 of the teammate tips from Jon Gordon’s The Hard Hat, this weeks we covered points 3 and 4:
3 – Choose to be humble and hungry
4 – Pursue excellence

Have a great week and keep fighting for your culture everyday!

I am excited to walk this journey with you. I welcome any feedback, ideas, and suggestions you might have as you read through this. You are also welcome to share this with any other coaches you think could benefit from it, and please have them email me at [email protected] if they would like to be added to this email list.

If you are interested in diving deeper on building culture we have started a mastermind group that meets the first and third Wednesday of each month at 12:30 pm EST, see the details at: winningyouthcoaching.com/the-culture-bus-mastermind/. It is exciting to be with likeminded world-changers.

Continue Reading

The 4 Cornerstones Of Championship Culture – Part 3 Of 8- A Cause Bigger Than Yourself-Leaving A Legacy

‘It’s better to have flown than to have landed’- John Wooden

The 4 Cornerstones of Championship Culture – WYC is excited to partner with Upward Sports to kick off 2017 with an exciting new way for your to raise your coaching game for you and your coaches!
2nd Cornerstone – A Cause Bigger than Yourself – Leaving a Legacy
This week we learn from Ted Quinn, director of coaches programs at Nations of Coaches. NOC is a group whose mission is to equip, serve, and connect with men’s basketball coaches.
Ted broke down creating championship culture into 2 priorities:
1 – Know your why
2 – Prioritize building relationships with your players. Get to know them before getting to know their game.
The first priority as a coach is to know why you are doing it. Being a coach is a calling and usually is a huge time commitment that takes you away from your family a great deal. You need to understand what legacy you want to leave behind. Is it your win/loss record? Or is it more important to be a role model to the young men and women you coach, develop them as athletes and as people, children, teammates, future parents, workers, and leaders?
Know your why. Write it down and remind yourself of it daily. Say it out loud to yourself and to others. Leave the right kind of legacy.
Our special thanks to our corporate partner for this series – Upward Sports- check them out at upward.org!
Continue Reading

The Culture Journey Week #20 – Smart-Aggressive – A Poker Analogy

Week 20
Spring practice week #3
Positive Energy
I continued what I have affectionately self-named ‘Coach Craig’s Goofy Games‘ to start each practice.
This week we did the best game we’ve done yet:
I had forgotten one that I had learned from Dave Cisar at Winning Youth Football (I am a HUGE fan of his coaching guide!) It’s called towel tug of war. Use an old full-sized towel, wrap duct tape around both ends and in the middle. Have 3 somewhat equal-sized athletes each grab the towel with one hand at 1 of the 3 taped spots. Put a cone about 4 to 5 yards behind each player (should form a triangle.) Then it’s tug of war to try to touch your own cone. You can only have one hand on the towel and you must be touching the towel when you touch your own cone.
The added fun that Cisar adds – have all the players that don’t participate line up behind the person’s cone who they think is going to win. Then all the people who line up behind the wrong cone have to do a quick 5 push-ups or something similar for picking wrong. This adds a lot of loud fun cheering from all the players.
Smart-Aggressive – A Poker Analogy
It’s always a fine-line to challenge kids to play aggressively but not force things and take dumb shots. I was thinking about it this week and it’s really similar to effective poker players. I used to run a poker club of 20 really good poker players and we would send the winner of the club to Vegas to play in a World Series of Poker event. I was able to win our club twice and got to play in Vegas. Poker theory is pretty consistent in that the best players play a tight-aggressive style. I was thinking this week that this is how we want our players to play, although I renamed ‘tight’ with ‘smart.’
Attached is a visual of this, let me know your thoughts. I am going to roll this out to our team today.

Have a great week and keep fighting for your culture everyday!

I am excited to walk this journey with you. I welcome any feedback, ideas, and suggestions you might have as you read through this. You are also welcome to share this with any other coaches you think could benefit from it, and please have them email me at [email protected] if they would like to be added to this email list.

If you are interested in diving deeper on building culture we have started a mastermind group that meets the first and third Wednesday of each month at 12:30 pm EST, see the details at: winningyouthcoaching.com/the-culture-bus-mastermind/. It is exciting to be with likeminded world-changers.

Continue Reading

The 4 Cornerstones Of Championship Culture – Part 2 Of 8- A Cause Bigger Than Yourself-Leaving A Legacy

Ultimately, life is about relationships and having a cause bigger than yourself – Joe Ehrmann in Inside Out Coaching
The 4 Cornerstones of Championship Culture – WYC is excited to partner with Upward Sports to kick off 2017 with an exciting new way for your to raise your coaching game for you and your coaches!
2nd Cornerstone – A Cause Bigger than Yourself – Leaving a Legacy
This week we learn from Scott Hearon, founder of the Nashville Coaching Coalition. This group’s entire focus is to equip and support coaches in their work to build excellent programs that transform the lives of their players and empower them to perform to their greatest potential.
Scott’s group uses Joe Ehrmann’s book Inside Out Coaching as a key part in their training of coaching staffs. The high school lacrosse coaching staff I am a part of recently had the privilege of going through this training.
Unlike most coach training, the focus of most of our time together was not on how to teach better or run more efficient practices, but rather was to understand each of our pasts and uncover any tendencies we have to lose focus on the real reasons we coach.
Scott taught us that the single most important thing the kids watch in us as coaches is how we relate to and treat each other. A great analogy he used was the best thing we can do as a parent is to love our spouse.
One of the biggest legacies we can leave with the players we coach is to demonstrate that we not coaching to impress anyone else, but instead we are coaching because we love the game, we love the coaches we coach with, and we love our players.
Our special thanks to our corporate partner for this series – Upward Sports- check them out at upward.org!
Continue Reading

The Culture Journey Week #19 – Coach Craig’s Goofy Games, No Captains?, & Struggle

Week 19
Spring practice week #2
Positive Energy
I continued what I have affectionately self-named ‘Coach Craig’s Goofy Games‘ to start each practice. It’s hard work continuing to come up with creative games, but once we’ve done 10 or 12 different ones I’ll probably start circling back and repeating or letting the kids choose one they liked. Here is how I have structured what we’ll do each week:
Monday – Seniors share 2 of the Teammate Tips from The Hard Hat. I purchased an 18″x24″ drawing pad and we’re going to fill in the 21 tips as the season goes on. I’m thinking about asking the seniors if they want to encourage the team to each tap the list on the way out to do their group warm-up run each practice. (Think ‘Play for your teammates today’ type sign.)
Tuesday – 3 man competitions and everyone votes on who they think will win, losers do punishment (towel tug-of-war, 3 man ground balls)
Wednesday – Entourage-type game where players compete then losers cheer (rock, paper scissors; high-10 off-balance push; 1,2,3, yee,haw,clap)
Thursday – Position group games (Tell a story 4 words at a time; topics without repeats; put cards in order without talking)
Friday – Fun Friday – play a different sport (ultimate frisbee with tennis balls; sharks and minnow tag with tennis balls; kickball)
​​​​​​​I’ll be taking notes on how to play each of these games and will send something out when the season is over.
Captains
Interesting follow-up on captains. I definitely lost sleep over the weekend as I thought about the one kid who didn’t get voted as a captain (another one didn’t get voted either but I don’t think he had any expectations around being a captain.) I was interviewing TJ Rosene (from PGC Basketball, the Hardwood Hustle, and head coach at Emmanuel College) this week and I asked him about captains – he gave me a really unique answer: ‘We don’t vote for or assign captains. There are always a few players that step up as leaders. When the ref asks for our captains to come to center court, without looking at me, a few of them just naturally take their role as leaders.’
Anyone else ever try this approach? It really got me thinking and I can see the benefits of not having a popularity vote or having coaches have to choose and alienating kids.
Struggle
The biggest struggle we are having right now is how to quantify and track skill progress. We don’t really have any tangible measurable so the boys can get the satisfaction of knowing they are improving. John, Will or any other lax coaches – any lacrosse ideas for this?

Have a great week and keep fighting for your culture everyday!

I am excited to walk this journey with you. I welcome any feedback, ideas, and suggestions you might have as you read through this. You are also welcome to share this with any other coaches you think could benefit from it, and please have them email me at [email protected] if they would like to be added to this email list.

If you are interested in diving deeper on building culture we have started a mastermind group that meets the first and third Wednesday of each month at 12:30 pm EST, see the details at: winningyouthcoaching.com/the-culture-bus-mastermind/. It is exciting to be with likeminded world-changers.

Continue Reading

The 4 Cornerstones of Championship Culture – Part 1 of 8 – Core Covenants

‘Leave the jersey in a better place’ – The All Blacks in James Kerr’s Legacy 
Core values
This week we kick off the series discussing the importance of establishing your core values. This is defining ‘who we are’ and ‘how we do things around here.’ Our guest in this week’s podcast, Coach Lisle from The Hitting Vault, shares that he and his coaches establish their core covenants first, and then they only have 2 rules:
1 – Don’t be late
2 – Don’t let down your teammates
This really covers all the bases, because if you do something selfish, you will always let down your teammates. So don’t.
Your program needs to start with a cornerstone that clearly states how you do things. Then point everything back to this in how you act and how you make all decisions.
Our special thanks to our corporate partner for this series – Upward Sports- check them out at upward.org!
Continue Reading

The 4 Cornerstones of Championship Culture – Intro

‘Leave the jersey in a better place’ – The All Blacks in James Kerr’s Legacy 
The 4 Cornerstones of Championship Culture – WYC is excited to partner with Upward to kick off 2017 with an exciting new way for your to raise your coaching game for you and your coaches!
Each Monday we will launch a new episode with interviews of great youth sports coaches around the country, and will also feature a 2 minute coaching spot with the founder of Upward Sports, Caz McCaslin.
The series will be broken into 4 topics:
1 – Core values
2 – A cause bigger than yourself
3 – Empowering & Defining roles- Create mentally tough athletes through their understanding of their role
4 – The role of captains and leadership development
A special thanks to our corporate partner for this series – Upward Sports – check them out at upward.org!
 
Continue Reading

Making It Fun Part 4 – 4 Additional Ideas To Build Positive Energy Into Your Practices

Lead with optimism, enthusiasm and positive energy, guard against pessimism and weed out negativity.’ – Jon Gordon 

This has been a great series for me to remember the importance of having kids love the sport they play. Sure there will be times where the kids need to learn the value of grinding out tough workouts, but there is no reason we can’t bring the energy levels up in our practices by incorporating fun competitive elements into most of what we do.
This week we will wrap up the series with 4 additional ideas for building positive energy into your practices:
Freeplay
This past summer my friend John, who coaches lacrosse, had parents drop off their kids from 4 to 6 every Saturday and had pick-up games. Their was 2 or 3 coaches there to make sure everyone stayed safe, but other than that the coaches stayed out of the way and let the kids figure out teams, resolve arguments, pretty much do everything themselves. This is great not only for developing their skills, but it also teaches them conflict resolution and many other great life skills.
Positive Conditioning – The winners get to run!
During competitions within your practice, instead of punishing the losers by making them do some type of conditioning, you tell the winners they have earned the right to get stronger while the losers watch. You have to put all your attention/effort into recognizing the kids who are earning the right to run.
Small area games like Futsal
Kids that play futsal touch the ball 12x vs. traditional soccer. Simulate these type  of small area games with lots of touches for each kid by breaking into small teams and play within a small confined space.
Involving the parents
Tell your parents: ‘Come ready and dressed to participate at practice’ – They can help you coach, but also kids love competing against the adults, so have competitions and scrimmages against their parents or with the parents mixed into the teams.
Continue Reading

The Culture Journey Week #18 – Icebreakers, Tough Decisions, & The Hard Hat

Week 18
Hell Week – Spring practice week #1
Positive Energy
As I mentioned last week, we started off the season with our head coach asking the boys what being a good teammate means to them, he wrote their ideas down, then had all the players and coaches sign the sheet agreeing to be held to that standard. This is a big change from the previous year, where I can’t remember specifically how the season kicked off but it certainly wasn’t in this type of positive mindset. Then we lined up all the boys in a single file line, I taught them the proper way to shake hands, and we had each player go down the line and introduce themselves to every other player on the team. Good start!
The next challenge for our coaching staff was to turn around the negative culture that had come down on last year’s team like a dark fog. One focus we are implementing is to intentionally start the practice with positive energy. We have done entourage, aka rock,paper,scissors,cheerleader, and a game called moosh-ball to start our practices the last 2 days. They are somewhat goofy games, especially moosh-ball, but that is OK because they have been very successful in getting a group of ‘trying-to-be-cool’ teenage boys laughing, cheering, and having a good time.

The other nice benefit of doing these games at the beginning of practice is that it provides an extra incentive to show up on time to practice.
Captains
We did face a very tough decision on who would be our captains for this team. We have 6 seniors on the team, so we wrote their names on a sheet of paper and let each player on the team vote for 1,2, or 3 players. The vote totals came out with one clear choice, then 3 more that were lumped pretty tight together. We had the debate over whether to add the #2 finisher and stick with 2 captains, or whether to have all 4 be captains. The other issue was the head coach had a different view on who the 2nd captain should be vs. myself and the other assistant coach. Much to his credit, after much deliberation, he had the other assistant coach and me fill out votes and see what that did to the totals. It did move a different boy into the #2 spot. I also really like the leadership of the boy who finished in the #4 spot, so we finally agreed we would go forward with 4 captains.
The Hard Hat
Keeping with our theme of being a great teammate, we have purchased 10 copies of Jon Gordon’s The Hard Hat – 21 Ways to be a great teammate. 1 for each senior and one for each coach. We are going to read the book with our seniors and discuss 2 different points from the book each week.
We have a long way to go, but the atmosphere around our team this spring is light years ahead of where we were this time last year.

Have a great week and keep fighting for your culture everyday!

I am excited to walk this journey with you. I welcome any feedback, ideas, and suggestions you might have as you read through this. You are also welcome to share this with any other coaches you think could benefit from it, and please have them email me at [email protected] if they would like to be added to this email list.

If you are interested in diving deeper on building culture we have started a mastermind group that meets the first and third Wednesday of each month at 12:30 pm EST, see the details at: winningyouthcoaching.com/the-culture-bus-mastermind/. It is exciting to be with likeminded world-changers.

Continue Reading

Making It Fun Part 3 – Developmental Stages & Levels

‘The sweet spot: that productive, uncomfortable terrain located just beyond our current abilities, where our reach exceeds our grasp.’– Daniel Coyle in The Talent Code

Do you know what athletes think is fun?

Getting better.
Fun games help keep the energy level high in practice and are important, but there is no substitute for the #1 way to have practices that athletes love: They need to feel tangible progress towards getting better.
3 ways you can implement this immediately:
  • Live by numbers – Create core drills that can be measured numerically. The focus is on improvement.
  • Developmental stages. Kids graduate from levels by testing out of levels. Instead of belt colors (like in Karate), you can have shirt colors. When they are ready to master a skill, they test on it, and move on to the next level after passing the test. Moving up a level is a big recognition – have some type quick ceremony and do something like ringing a victory bell.
  • Stuart Armstrong from The Talent Equation is a master on this subject – He says to design your practices like a video game designer:
    • Create ‘levels’ that are within their reach, but it’s a big stretch that might feel just out of their reach. So when they figure something out – ask them ‘are you ready for level 2 now?’
    • Use terms like ‘power-up’ and ‘freeze’ to mix up games during practice. One team can ‘freeze’ the other team for 5 seconds
Be intentional with your practice design to focus on each kid knowing what their next step of progress is, and celebrate like crazy as kids reach their next level!
Continue Reading

The Culture Journey Week #17 – What Makes Up A Good Teammate & Handshaking

Week 17

Final pre-season Coach Meeting
We had our final pre-season coach meeting last night. I am encouraged by the progress we have made as a staff over the past few months. We are not perfect yet, but there is power in just sitting down and getting to know each other, listen to each others’ stories, and talking about our visions for the team. Even though we all have very different styles and certainly don’t see eye-to-eye on each others’ philosophies, there is a tangible growth and respect amongst each other that makes being together more and more enjoyable.

​​​​​​​As we come into the upcoming Hell Week to kickstart our practices, there are 2 things we are doing at our first practice that I am very excited about:

1 – What does it being a good teammate mean to you?
I am pumped about our head coach recommending that we start out our first team meeting next week by asking the team what their definition is of being a good teammate. We are going to have a large sheet of paper where we write all of their responses down. Then we are going to ask them if they all agree to being held to these standards, and if they do to sign their name on the page with these descriptions.

2 – Handshaking
The head coach also said he wants to start off the first practice with the kids lining up by class, then having each elder class shake hands with the younger classes and welcome them to the team, shake their hand, and tell them they are glad they are here and they will support them and help them any way they can.
I thought of James Leath’s post about teaching kids how to look each other in the eye and what a proper handshake looks like, so I asked the coach if we could teach the kids the proper way to shake hands and he liked the idea. Check out James’ article on this and what his first practice each season looks like (I have learned a great deal from James but this is my favorite must-read article): First-Day-of-Practice

We also discussed having all the coaches take turns talking through our ROOTS values (taken from PCA) over the course of the season so that we don’t lose sight of them the way we have historically. Quick, 5-minute or less, stories we can share to keep sight on who we are and how we do things.

It’s been quite a journey over the past 17 weeks getting ready for practice #1. We’ve taken baby-steps towards turning this team’s culture around, I’m pumped to get it started! These boys are worth it!

Have a great week and keep fighting for your culture everyday!

I am excited to walk this journey with you. I welcome any feedback, ideas, and suggestions you might have as you read through this. You are also welcome to share this with any other coaches you think could benefit from it, and please have them email me at [email protected] if they would like to be added to this email list.

If you are interested in diving deeper on building culture we have started a mastermind group that meets the first and third Wednesday of each month at 12:30 pm EST, see the details at: winningyouthcoaching.com/the-culture-bus-mastermind/. It is exciting to be with likeminded world-changers.

Continue Reading

Making It Fun Part 2 – Fun Games That Teach Skills

‘Nobody ever said “Work ball!” They say, “Play ball!” To me, that means having fun’ – Willie Stargell
Thank you to the many coaches who responded to my recent email asking what your biggest challenge currently is in coaching. One of the common responses I received involved coming up with creative new games to keep practices fun and engaging while teaching fundamentals and deleting the players’ skills. This week I’ll share some of the great games that many of my podcast guests have shared with me over the years. They are organized by sport, but be open-minded and look at other sports outside of the one you coach because many of these games can be tweaked to do in just about any sport.
Baseball & Softball
  • 1 kid is at home base, 1 at 2nd  – and they race to reach the other’s base (home to 2nd; 2nd to home)
  • Throwing/catching games – They start up close with a partner, then keep taking 3 giant steps back, once they drop a ball they’re out – but even after they’re out they can keep throwing (so they’re not standing around)
  • Keep everything competitive – Coach will break up into 2 teams of six and then have them all bunt and keep track of which team lays down more successful bunts, do the same with hit and runs, etc.
  • Baseball hitting game – Each player gets 7 swings and earns points based on result(kind of like Home Run derby)
  • Last player standing – player bats with 2 strikes – if they hit it fair they keep going.  If you strike-out you go play defense.  Then you add complexity – they have to hit it to the grass, etc.  Great game to teach the athletes to play in pressure situations.
  • Throwing accuracy – Kids weren’t hitting their targets when throwing – so she put a ball on a cone at 1st base and they took turns throwing from shortstop trying to hit the ball on the cone.  Then she said first one to hit she would give $1.
Basketball
  • Defensive slide duck-duck-goose: You play the normal game but have to do defensive slide when running around the circle.
  • Jump stop Mr. Fox
  • Split the kids in half and have them do drills towards mid-court so they meet their teammates and can watch/learn as they go
  • Break into 3 person teams and have shooting competitions
  • Spider – Ball handling game – 4 or 5 defenders, 3 or 4 offensive players – Players have to dribble to the other end of the court while the spiders are trying to knock their ball out of the court, if you get your ball knocked out you join the spiders.
  • Dribble tag – put it to music and do it for 5 to 7 minutes to keep it fun
  • Passing tag – have to pass the ball and ‘tag’ someone. Stop, catch, pivot, then tag. Timed drill –team with the lowest time wins. Can do it with more than 5 per team.
  • Cool dribbling drill – Put change (quarters, nickels, dimes) at spots on the court – kids have to go pick it up, then go put the change back using the opposite hand
Football
  • The give-up drill – 3 blockers defending a pad vs. 1 player
  • Defend the box
Soccer
  • Knockout
  • Bring out different style balls – tennis ball, big huge ball
Don’t stress yourself out doing continuous research on the perfect game. Find 4 or 5 that your kids enjoy and mix them throughout your practices to keep the energy level up and the kids having fun!
Continue Reading

The Culture Journey Week #16 – Competition For All Positions

Week 16
Player-Parent Meeting – Competition for all positions
This week kicked off our spring season with our parent-player meeting. I won’t bore you with too many of the details, but one of the statements that our head coach shared jumped out at me:
No guaranteed spots, open competition for all positions
I can’t remember whether this was in the slide deck in previous years, but our coach emphasized it and if we truly enforce this our team’s culture would vastly improve. As I have shared previously our team’s culture has been defined by individualism and entitlement. Our meetings as a coaching staff over the past 8 weeks have been centered around how do we drive accountability into our culture. A major step in doing this will be to use the bench as a motivator. We need to have open competition and let the players know that their behavior will dictate their role on this team. If players come with a willingness to work hard, learn, and be a great teammate – they will earn the right to play significant roles on this team. But if players come to goof off and their primary goal is to show up their teammate, they can enjoy their time watching the game from the bench.
Next week we have our final coaches meeting before our practices kick-off. My primary goal in this meeting is to ask the head coach to clearly define the assistant coaches rolesWe need to feel empowered to own our position group. Not to take away his power, but to help him meet his vision for this team by taking pride in our position group and passing that pride down to be owned by the players in each group. 
Head coaches – are you empowering your assistant coaches and valuing their input? Is their role during practices and games crystal clear? This is a great reminder to all of us of the importance of clear roles for everyone on the team – the players, the coaches, the parents.

Have a great week and keep fighting for your culture everyday!

I am excited to walk this journey with you. I welcome any feedback, ideas, and suggestions you might have as you read through this. You are also welcome to share this with any other coaches you think could benefit from it, and please have them email me at [email protected] if they would like to be added to this email list.

If you are interested in diving deeper on building culture we have started a mastermind group that meets the first and third Wednesday of each month at 12:30 pm EST, see the details at: winningyouthcoaching.com/the-culture-bus-mastermind/. It is exciting to be with likeminded world-changers.

Continue Reading

The Culture Journey Week #15 – Servant Leadership, Life-Lessons, Codes-Of-Conduct

 
Meeting #7 with Coaching coach – Servant leadership, Life-lessons, Codes-of-conduct
Had our seventh meeting with Scott Hearon, the co-founder of the Nashville Coaching Coalition. We went through the chapters 6 through 8 of Inside-Out Coaching by Joe Ehrmann.
​​​​​​​Chapter 6 is about building community. In it is one of the best descriptions I’ve seen of what leadership and being a captain is all about:
Biff tells the seniors they have now earned the right to serve the freshmenServant leadership is the antithesis of self-promotion, of competing for positions of preeminence. It’s the opposite of hazing. It’s downward mobility based on the belief that if you want to be a leader you must first know how to serve.
​​​​​​​Next we invite the freshmen over and the varsity players give them an ovation. A couple of the captains will welcome them and let the frosh know how courageous it is for them to be here. They are admired and welcomed into our community.’
What could our team look like if we taught our captains and seniors to lead this way? That is one of the goals for our upcoming lacrosse season.
Chapter 7 is a discussion on teaching life lessons through sports. We did an exercise as a coaching staff where we each listed the top 3 educational points about life we want to teach the kids we coach. This was an excellent activity to better understand what really makes each coach tick.
This is also the chapter where Joe shares what his teams do on Homecoming week, specifically with regards to what they teach the boys about respecting the girls they are going to take to the Homecoming dance. This includes the boys writing a short letter describing how they will treat their dates and then several of the players are selected to share these with the team.  Powerful, powerful stuff – if you want to see more details on this it starts on the bottom of page 179 of the book.
Chapter 8 is about clear communication, and Joe reinforces the best way to do this is by having 3 different codes of conduct:
  1. Coaches’ code of conduct
  2. Parents’ code of conduct
  3. Players’ code of conduct
We did an activity where we rated from 1 to 5 how our communication with these 3 groups is on our team. The biggest eye-opener from this activity was we realized we put a players’ code of conduct in place at the beginning of the year, then rarely ever discuss it again the rest of the season. 
Next week we wrap up our sessions with Scott, have our kick-off meeting with the players and parents, and then in 2 short weeks we are off and running with practices!
I hope your seasons are going well – you have to fight every day for your culture – so start off 2017 fighting the good fight! It is worth it!

I am excited to walk this journey with you. I welcome any feedback, ideas, and suggestions you might have as you read through this. You are also welcome to share this with any other coaches you think could benefit from it, and please have them email me at [email protected] if they would like to be added to this email list.

If you are interested in diving deeper on building culture we have started a mastermind group that meets the first and third Wednesday of each month at 12:30 pm EST, see the details at: winningyouthcoaching.com/the-culture-bus-mastermind/. It is exciting to be with likeminded world-changers.

Continue Reading

Making it Fun Part 1 – Hidden Conditioning & Icebreakers

‘You can make more friends in 2 months by becoming interested in other people than you can in 2 years by trying to get other people interested in you’ – Dale Carnegie in How to Win Friends and Influence People
Today we’ll share 2 different types of ideas you can use in your practices:
1 – Icebreakers
2 – Hidden Conditioning
Icebreakers
Don’t underestimate the value of starting your practice with some type of activity to switch your athletes’ mindset from school, friends, homelife, etc. to being on this team. Here are some great ideas (thanks to Will Drumright and James Leath for sharing some of these):
  • Rock, paper, scissors, cheerleader – Everyone pairs off and plays best 2 out of 3. The winner moves on and finds another winner, the person who lost becomes cheerleader (or entourage if you want a more masculine word) for whoever beat them. Continue until down to 2 people. Make a big deal about who has the best entourage before the championship match. You can have coaches watching the entourages throughout the whole process and give award to the final 2 players and also the 2 best cheerleaders.
  • ​​​​​​​Clumps – Start by everyone running around then leader yells out a number and the players have to form clumps with that number of people.
  • 1,2, 3 – Partner up. One person starts with 1 the other says 2, then the first says 3, and so on. (try to mess up your partner, different voice inflections, etc.) After a couple rounds change 3 to a clap. Finally, change 1 and 2 to Yee and Haw.
  • The Pigeon Game: You start telling a story, when the kids hear ‘Pigeon’- they race to the other side. You make it fun by trying to fake them out, i.e.: ‘there was a boy name PETER who really liked PICKLES…’
Hidden Conditioning Games
​​​​​​​Starting or ending your practice with hidden conditioning games instead of wind sprints can improve the ‘funness’ of your practices immensely. Remember – it’s a game and the #1 reason kids play sports is to have fun! Here a few great ideas:
  • Play your sport with a different ball. Way bigger or way smaller than the normal one.
  • Ultimate frisbee is a great game for conditioning for any outdoor sport
  • Dodgeball and tag are classics that kids always like. Instead of kids standing around after they are knocked out make them jog around the outside perimeter of your game.
  • Fox and hound – Hounds have the ball, foxes chase them, if fox tags you, you have to give them ball
  • Relay races
  • Four-corner tag – 4 players at a time – each kid starts in a corner and runs to the middle, then you yell out a corner number, and the kid from that corner has to tag the other 3 kids in 10 seconds.  You see some great open-field juke moves with this.
Continue Reading

2017 Is Going To Be Epic. Let’s Start By Having Some Fun!

‘Nobody ever said “Work ball!” They say, “Play ball!” To me, that means having fun’ – Willie Stargell
What better way to kick off the year than to talk about one of the fundamentals of why kids play sports – having FUN! Next week we’ll kick off a 4 part series as we look at great ways to make our practices more fun. If you’re like me you’re always looking for more fun games to bring up the energy level during your practice, so I’ll share some of the best ideas I’ve learned along the way. Here’s what the series will look like:
Part 1 – Hidden conditioning games
Part 2 – Skill development games
Part 3 – Developmental stages & levels
Part 4 – 4 additional ways to bring the fun: Small area games, Freeplay, Positive conditioning, & Involving the parents
Happy new years and here’s to an epic 2017!
Continue Reading

The 12 Days of Christmas – 12 Truths about Athletes – Part 4 of 4 – The 1 Thing Every Athlete Needs

The emotional glue of any culture is its sense of identity and purpose – James Kerr quoting Owen Eastwood in Legacy
Merry Christmas! I hope you have enjoyed this 12 Days of Christmas series – as a reminder here is what we’ve covered in our 12 Truths about Athletes series:
3 Truths about players (from Ingle Martin):
  1. They want to contribute
  2. They want to belong
  3. They want to know they have what it takes
5 Things Athletes want from their Coaches (from John O’Sullivan):
  1. Respect & Encouragement
  2. A positive role model
  3. Clear, consistent communication
  4. Knowledge of the sport
  5. Someone who listens
3 Components of Effective Communication: (from TJ Rosene)
  1. Truth
  2. Love
  3. Transparency
This week we’ll wrap up the series with:
The 1 Thing Every Athlete Needs:
  1.  Purpose (from James Kerr in Legacy)
​​​​​​​More than encouragement.
More than positive reinforcement.
More than brilliant X’s and O’s.
While all of these are part of being a great coach, the ultimate goal is to create purpose for every member of the team. That is what makes a master coach. The ability to value every player and make them understand their importance to the team’s success.
In Kerr’s book written about the All Blacks rugby team, he uncovers that the team’s success comes down to the fact they are obsessed with ‘This connection of personal meaning to public purpose.’
Kerr goes on to quote:
  • Daniel Pink in his book Drive‘Humans, by their nature, seek purpose – a cause greater and more enduring than themselves.’
  • Victor Frankl in Man’s Search for Meaning‘What man actually needs, is not a tensionless state but rather the striving and struggling for a worthwhile goal, a freely chosen task.’
  • Nietzsche said: “He who has a why to live for can bear almost any how.”
  • And for the All Blacks, their purpose is to “add to the legacy…to leave the jersey in a better place.”​​​​​​​
The most important goal for your team in 2017 should be for every player to know their role and clearly understand how they are contributing to the success of the team. It will be more fun for each player and it will make your team much more successful!
Continue Reading

The 12 Days of Christmas – 12 Truths about Athletes – Part 3 of 4 – The 3 Components Of Effective Communication

Effective teamwork begins and ends with communication” – Coach K
I recently had the opportunity to attend a coaching clinic with TJ Rosense from PGC Basketball and the Hardwood Hustle (a couple of my favorite sports resources.) I took multiple pages of notes (if you get a chance to see TJ he is one of the best I’ve seen!) – but one of the biggest takeaways I had was his discussion on how communication is a cornerstone of his program’s culture. He shared that communication needs to have all 3 of these components:
  1. Truth
  2. Love
  3. Transparency
Effective communication requires all 3 components. TJ’s teams make a regular practice of this by spending 5-8 minutes at the beginning of practice discussing different topics, such as:
– ‘My commitment Monday’ – Players commit to one thing that week in practice
– ‘Tough Tuesday’ – Share something you’re struggling with
– ‘Wisdom Wednesday’ – Share a quote or something you’ve learned recently
– ‘Thankful Thursday’
– ‘Fun Friday’
– ‘Servant Saturday’
Of course all of these topics work best – if YOU start. The players need to see your honesty, love, and transparency role-modeled.
TJ finished our time sharing:
​​​​​​​”Everything about culture is a teachable skill that you can improve.”
Practice the skill of communication with your teams starting this week!
Continue Reading
Visit Us On TwitterVisit Us On Facebook