What I'm Learning as a Coach
Coaching is pretty much Leadership 101. On the field I'm trying to gel individuals, with unique strengths and weaknesses, into a kick-arse team. All while managing expectations, and gushy feelings. As the season wears on (we have one week left, thank gawd) I've learned one thing that can apply to any team, regardless of sport or work.
So... I coach u10 soccer. What that means is parents give me permission to bark at their kids, under 10, that are on my team It's an interesting age; they both have an attention span of a dragonfly and understand what you're saying. Here's an example from tonight's game:
Me: You're a mid-fielder, that means you don't go in front of the forwards unless you have the ball. Do you understand?
*Send the kid back in. Yell at them three times they're in front of the forwards - they don't move back to their position. Substitute them out of the game.*
Me: Did you understand what I said earlier about mid-fielders not going in front of forwards?
Me: Do you know what a forward is?
Me: *face palm*
Despite my frustration I need to positively teach my player.
This player often whines, complains, doesn't follow commands, all while pleading to be put in the game and yet I'm to positively lead her. It's easy to give into my frustration and allow belittling comments roll off my tongue, "Why don't you listen?! Why do you complain all the time?!" But coaching isn't easy. Great coaching is hard. It's take intentionally to assess each player to see where we can help them to grow, then to implement strategies that target those areas both individually and corporately. Thankfully, regardless of the team (sports or job-related), there's one thing that can help us postively lead.
Speak to your team as if they are champions already.
Don't wait for the win to speak life into your team. In John Maxwell's The 17 Indisputable Laws of Teamwork there's a story where a principal selected teachers to run this special program. They were chosen, because of their great performance, to teach hand-selected achieving students. After a year of work, these students vastly out-performed their peers. During the teachers' end-of-year review, the principal confessed that the students weren't superior by any means, they were average students. The teachers marveled in how well the kids performed. The principal wasn't done, he then revealed they, the teachers, were randomly selected out a hat. No one in the group, students nor teachers, were superior in any way - but in thinking they were, everyone rose to meet the challenge.
My team has the same mental obstacles I do: they think negatively about themselves. I don't need to help them with that. I'm to give life, encouragement, and positivity. Despite being 0-6, I'll be there telling my team how they were successful.