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Who You Surround Yourself With Matters

I used to have a business partner who was a good friend of mine for a number of years. In our business we were extremely successful and I always strived to be as attentive to all of my clients as possible. My partner was brilliant but unfortunately he had a knack for not returning client phone calls and e-mails. Even though I would go above and beyond when dealing with my clients, the lack of customer service that my partner showed toward clients tarnished my reputation as well.

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With coaching, you need to select athletes for your team that will best represent your school. Also, you need to have assistant coaches that share your philosophy of professionalism as well. Nothing can sink a program faster than having an assistant coach who creates a negative image of your program.

A couple of seasons ago I had an assistant coach with my program who had a pretty solid knowledge of the game and he had experience as a head varsity coach. He brought a lot to the table as an assistant coach and his knowledge of the game proved helpful during games. However, this same assistant coach created drama off-the-court by stirring up issues with athletes and he created a very negative image of the program with our administration based on his lack of professionalism. Even though I did my best to be a professional and positive role model, my assistant coach whom I chose to work with our program brought a slightly negative image to what we were doing. In spite of his great knowledge, we had to part ways a couple of years ago and even though I lost someone with a great knowledge of the game, we have a staff and athletes with great values and are looked upon in a positive light by our administration.

With anything in life, you need to surround yourself with people who are positive and work hard. That same business partner that I spoke of in the opening paragraph used to always speak down to me, be disrespectful of my time, and not treat me with the respect that I deserved. In spite of our past friendship and his great education, parting ways with him was the greatest business and life decision that I have ever made. I know have more self-confidence than ever before, am more relaxed, and have achieved more business success than I had ever had with our partnership.

Your athletes on the team will also reflect upon you as a coach. When picking teams, difficult decisions will need to be made sometimes when you have a student who is talented but may reflect poorly upon your school and program. Even if you are winning ball games having a negative image can potentially cost you a job. I am all about teaching and second chances but tread very carefully when working with students who have attitude issues and don’t mesh well with their teammates (I have lived through this mistake on more than one occasion).

This past season I had some of the nicest young ladies on my team. They worked hard in the classroom, had positive attitudes, and  were very supportive of each other on and off the court. My coaching staff was extremely loyal and did an excellent job of helping to build our program. Even though we were not as talented as years past and we finished slightly under .500, it was one of the most relaxing and fun seasons that I have coached in a long time.

 

Be Persistent

Those of you who read my story on what t took for me to break into coaching know that I showed persistence. I encourage all coaches to show persistence when it comes to finding their first job. It is not just finding a job that requires persistence. When it comes to improving your team both on and off the court you must be persistent as well.

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Here are just a few examples of situations that require persistence:

  1. Getting a job.
  2. Improving team chemistry.
  3. Getting students to improve performance in the classroom.
  4. Improving skills of your players.
  5. Winning basketball games.

Persistence requires hard work and a dedication to achieving a goal. Refer back to my coaching journey for an example of persistence when it comes to getting a job. Team chemistry is a topic that we covered last week and I gave examples of ways to being persistent about improving off-the-court. Improving in the classroom will require you to monitor students grades and then work with them to improve. Skill development requires work every day in practice. Winning basketball games requires planning and hard work over a long period of time.

Overall, persistence is a key with every aspect of your team and it is a trait that will benefit you and your teams. Persistence always seems to pay off in the long run.

In The Classroom

This is not going to be a very long post but it is an important one. I want to make sure to emphasize that a coaches primary job is to be a teacher. Emphasizing academics is a key aspect of coaches that I believe is undervalued. With most rules calling for a minimum 2.0 GPA, coaches simply do what is needed to make sure their students are eligible.

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If your primary objective is to be a true coach both on and off the court to your athletes, you need to show them the importance of academics. Last year I implemented a 3.0 minimum GPA and this year I have implemented a minimum 3.5 policy. Typically I have one or two athletes fall short of the minimum GPA but a 3.3 GPA that falls short is far better than a 1.8 GPA.

Here are some things that I implemented into my program that have helped us rise from a large number of students not being eligible for college prior to my arrival at Ontario High School to a team that had the 26th highest GPA in all of Southern California:

  1. Weekly Grade Checks.
  2. Team running at the end of the week for all athletes under the minimum goal.
  3. Setting higher expectations with GPA and behavior in the classroom.
  4. Assigning each athlete an academic accountability partner.
  5. Partnering the highest academic achievers with those that are not doing as well in the classroom.

Lastly, remember that if your athletes are achieving good grades, it will allow more colleges to recruit your athletes.

Take Action To Achieve What You Want

I always find it interesting when I hear players talk about specific goals that they want to achieve or ways that they want to improve their game. The interest is not in the goal they have set but rather it is that they do not put in the work necessary to achieve that goal.

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I had an athlete on my team last year who has been starting on my team since her Freshman year and she told me that she wanted to become a better scorer and defender. During the season, she had a good season but not at the level she was hoping for. She expressed to me her disappointment in not developing her left hand as well as she had hoped/ I explained to her that having goals are great but those goals take hard work to achieve and she agreed that she had not committed to skill work in the offseason as much as she should have.

Coaches are in the exact same situation as players in that they have things that they want such as a head coaching job, more wins for their team, more money in their school booster account, etc… Much like the situation with the player that I outlined above, coaches must take action to get what they want.

If you want a head coaching job, step up and take more responsibility as an assistant coach and make an effort to network with other coaches and administrators. Getting more wins is simply a matter of planning and working on making your players each better through skill development and developing your team to be able to execute your game plans (it’s also not a bad idea to really focus on improving your game planning). Fundraising money does not grow on trees and if you want more you need to commit to planning enough fundraisers to meet a goal that you have.

With anything for coaches, you must commit to taking action. If you have any scenarios that you had in mind and would like help in creating an action plan, do not hesitate to reach out to me.

Dream, But Be Realistic

As a coach, it is a great idea to dream big when getting ready for a season. Refer back to my post on goals that I have set for my team. I dreamed big when I thought out the things that I wanted to accomplish; however, I was very realistic with the goals that I set. It is easy for a coach to be enthusiastic right before a season starts but if you set goals that are unattainable, it will lead to disappointment if they are not achieved.

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Looking back at my prior post, I have been dreaming of winning a league championship at Ontario ever since I got there. We potentially could win a title this year but by focusing on a top two finish as my goal, I am being both realistic and setting a goal that I believe we should achieve. If I had set a goal of winning a National Championship, that would be an amazing accomplishment but not at all likely, pragmatic, or attainable.

When you set your team goals, do not set goals that are too easy. If I had set a goal of winning at least five games this year, we would definitely achieve that goal but I would feel no sense of accomplishment with this. When setting goals it can be difficult to find that balance of finding goals that are in between unattainable and too easy.

I encourage every coach at the beginning of each season to make a list of goals that they have for the season. As a reminder, here are the goals that I set for my team this season:

  1. Win at least 20 of our 28 regular season games.
  2. Win at least one of our three tournament.
  3. Finish top two in our league.
  4. Make it to the playoffs for the fifth year in a row (has not been accomplished at Ontario in over 20 years).
  5. Win at least two playoff games (has only been accomplished four times in school history).
  6. Every student has a 3.5 GPA or higher and we finish in the top 10 of all schools in terms of team GPA.
  7. Students for the second straight year in the classroom exhibit behavior that makes them models for other sports.
  8. Every students graduates with qualifications necessary to attend a four-year college.