We should be able to talk candidly about our coaching perspective. We all can agree that if we have a player who is driven, you must realize that you are in a position of power. They will do anything you say. They also will accept abuse in anyway that you deliver it because they desperately want the success.
When you have those players that are extremely driven they are the ones that are most at risk, because they are the ones willing to do anything, sacrifice everything and do whatever is necessary and take whatever you dish out to them because you hold the key to what they are seeking!
If you get players into survival mode as I stated earlier in another blog, then you will have them fighting like dogs. That anger subdues choking, it subdues fear. That chemistry of fear and anger can't live together. Some coaches believe that if you make the player angry that they will then play better. You can call them names, infuriate them and all the nerves go away, that's what the screamer coaches realize. It's manipulation as opposed to allowing them to figure things out and how to control their own nerves.
Is there a different way?
Humans tend to perform much better when they are driven. When they see the opportunity to do something extraordinary for a cause much bigger than themselves. They respond in a special way when they realize all of their hard work and suffering isn't about them anyway.
Great coaches know this power, the power of fighting for a loved one. They do it for a cause that is more than their own validation, or their own self interest and thus more sustained results.
Coach Wooden was very tough. He was a taskmaster. However, he always had his players best interest in mind. It was never about him. It was about the players and what he did with them, how he taught them, would affect them the rest of their lives.
This is what he told me how he would determine what a success he had been later in life, 10 years from the time that they left his supervision.
The real report card. This is when the season is over. As much as all of us want to be at the top and accepting the championship. The real sense of satisfaction is going to come later. Like at the reunion, the wedding of a player, etc. This is where you know it was a truly meaningful experience, one that shaped their lives and that they are grateful for. It's at this moment where you will not feel any better as a coach.
Sometimes the job gets in the way however. We just get into the mode of winning games. We forget how to value moral character. How can you prove you value character if you don't measure it and reward it everyday? How could you implement into your practice today? Start by recognizing that person that was most unselfish, encourages the most and reward that person. That person doesn't have to run at the end of practice for example because this was measured, rewarded. The players will see that this is a value to you and they will try their best to achieve it.
During one Final Four that I attended, I heard a coach say to another, "You can tell what a coach values by what they are willing to lose for." So true because we are always afraid of what can happen if we don't get the wins. We are tested each day. How much do I value winning and how much do I value developing people?
This comes back to your perspective. Are you playing for today? Or are you playing for a perspective that is going to ultimately determine the success of those under your supervision as a person.
Ask your players: How can you tell if a coach values winning over developing people? I am interested in learning what you discover?
This blog post is not going to sit well with some of you due to the mature and harsh language that will be used, so I urge you to use caution when looking at this. However, there are coaches who have humiliated others, publicly and privately.
This intense pressure needs to be addressed and I am going to as my son asked me this weekend as we were watching ESPN and the interview with Jadlow and his new book and the issues with Bobby Knight. My son asked me if I ever had a coach like that? It forced me to dig deep into trying to help coaches understand what resides in their control.
You have to remember that as a coach at any level, you have extraordinary power in the lives of the athletes that you interact with, or as I like to say, those under your supervision. Your position in their life, your presence; you hold their dreams in your hands. You are the person who is going to help them fulfill what they believe to be their destiny.
If you believe in them, if you support them, if you reach deep inside of yourself and give them a sense of empowerment, they can and will do extraordinary things. You will be an enormous force in their life. However, with that same power, you can tear them apart just the same and in some cases they are never going to be the same.
Listen to the interview Todd Jadlow and Bobby Knight life out of control.
Bobby Knight Halftime Speech
There is also an extremely powerful movie that I have seen from time to time to remind me and others of what happens when you are out of control. The movie Whiplash is intense and the scene that I am about to provide, has intense scenes, language, and should be viewed in light of what it brings to you, the emotions that are evoked.
Remember a couple of poignant facts that the coach is pushing them to be all that they can become. And in the movie when he draws the line in the sand by saying this is what winners are and what losers loo like well that was for his own needs. You see many coaches do this to feel that they are successful. For their reputation. It's wrong. I speak about this all the time here in US and in other countries where it is looked upon that a coach who yells and screams must be a good coach.
Most coaches have no clue of the power they have in the lives of the people that they teach.
Remember that every word, behavior, tone you use goes not just to the one person that you are directing that to, it's to the entire team, whether they are being spoken to directly or not, including staff members who listen to it as well.
I agree with the premise that most coaches believe in pushing their athletes beyond their limits. That process is difficult to say the least, but it doesn't have to get abusive. Couldn't you challenge another way? Couldn't you challenge your athletes without using fear?
One thing to keep in mind in the movie, the drummer is driven, even if the coach wasn't there. But it was so extreme, he was driving himself crazy.
When you coach players that have this drive that is over the top because they want to be successful, the question you need to ask yourself is, is that drive from within because they are trying to be something? Or is it to make themselves feel more important because there is something lacking inside of them?
Why do people endure the emotional abuse in order to get to the next level?
That answer that my son asked me, was yes, I did play for a coach like that, who challenged me, pushed, demonstrative. But I took the time to know him, to learn that he had care for me, that he loved me, and that he accepted me for who I was. This was demonstrated off the court by him taking the time to talk to me, put his arm around me, be there for my Dad's funeral as I was one year removed from his coaching me. Thus I was able to understand that his ranting and raving on the sidelines was only pressure and that I was able to withstand that better knowing that I could be the one having the calming effect on him.
I would be the one to accept responsibility for the actions of our team. This allowed me to help them simply play for each other on the court. It allowed my coach the outlet for his frustration to me, as I was able to take it. No one ever said it would be easy, but we all found a solution that worked for us all.
What do the best teams have?
First you have to help your players learn how to separate what they do from who they are. They have this idea that if they perform well then they are loved and if they don't perform well, then they are unloved.
I was asked this question the other day, what are the best teams that I have been around and what are the characteristics of those teams? They have Love, Care and Acceptance.
This takes you as the coach to show your vulnerability. What do I mean by that? How do we get our players to open up and talk and share their feelings with each other, to get to the truth? Teams that have problems are going to have a lot of judgement going around. I make it a point to learn the story of our players. To try to know where they come from. You will discover things you never knew, internal pain perhaps. We ask our players as coaches in general to trust and invest in a team, but to many of them, this trust is the major issue. They might not know how to become a good teammate, how to trust and open up. I learned that I needed to have weekly meetings to help facilitate this. The most important thing I ever did was show them how vulnerable I was in the discussions as well. I spoke about the challenges and things in my life that have held me back as well.
Having empathy is a huge component. There are going to be many of your players who will be holding themselves to a high standard, being compared to others. Empathy is huge, especially when your team begins to open up. That love, care and acceptance will help those players feel accepted by their teammates even if they don't live up to the expectations others place on them.
There is going to be a daily battle with human nature. You see human nature is being lazy, selfish and self centered. That is the battle each day. How do we fight that battle versus human nature. You must lay out a plan that demonstrates to the players that human nature vs championship nature. by that i mean playing Xbox v. studying for a test. Eating fast food v. eating healthy.
Are you prepared to lose big and win big? Sometimes as a coach you have this goal to maximize your teams ability. So during a game you think all is going well, "we are OK, , don't change." But you know that your team can be better if you just one player to do this or that, or if you can change something. Then that thought enters your mind, "what if it doesn't work, are we going to take a step backwards?" Last night the Cubs manager, took that risk, it was hard to argue what he was doing with his pitchers, but he was believing that he had to leave it all on the line and stick to what he knew, by either losing big or winning big. He had to take the risk to get his team there. If you want to win at the highest level you have got to be prepared to make those decisions. I believe that you have to be a risk taker to get your team to maximize it's fullest ability.
I am a huge believer in confronting the truth with my players. Not in the scream, yell in your face type. Mainly by addressing the elephant that is in the room. Addressing it before it grows into something more. For example, with my team this weekend in Phoenix at a showcase, I addressed their lack of effort in the first game, not whether the ball went into the basket, more to come on that later. However, it was my way of adding to them that I valued the effort we would give more than the ball going through the basket, because I know this is what we can control.
All my teams, I provide immediate feedback from the goals that I have, wanting to know their player performance rating, to see how efficient they are during the course of the game, so that I can talk to them individually about it. Example going to a stat line and seeing a player down and disappointed by going 2 for 11 from the field in 38 minutes played during a 40 minute game. I would try to put this into perspective by asking questions," how many shots did you miss? " "How long does it take for you to shoot the ball?" "How many seconds did you play?" So taking the answers the player gave me, I try to put back to them in a way they can relate what is really at stake. They missed 9 shots, taking 1 second to shoot, and that 9 seconds affects the rest of the 37 minutes, 51 seconds that they played? This is truth I put in front of them. They must understand that they will have the ball less than 5% of the time that they play in a game. The game of basketball, 95% of the time is played without the ball in your hands. Yet the newspaper will focus on who the leading scorer was, how many points, the 5%.
This weekend I asked one of our players who maybe played 25 minutes how long did he think he had the ball in his hands? He responded 15 minutes. I was loud by saying, no one has the ball for 15 minutes~! All players get caught up in that 5%. And that 5% takes them on emotional highs and lows based on whether the ball goes in the basket. You see a player who makes a shot, will scream yes, but when they miss, you don't see that same reaction?
Making shots will come and go. The things you actually have control over is the things you do, 95% of the time. Focus on being great at that. That is the purpose of me showing them how efficient they are during the game so that they realize that they can control the outcome of the game by focusing on things that are within their control.
I leave you with this final thought. What's your legacy? What do you become as a result of the chase? When you are going through this chase, are you bitter, do you have resentment, frustration, are you not a good person? You hear coaches say all the time, that they tunnel vision, that they are sacrificing their family for the team.
There are many things that get exposed as result of pressure. I believe that through this chase you get a chance to become a better version of yourself. It's a way of finding out about yourself. I challenge coaches to answer what is their purpose in coaching? It can't be about material things, or about winning, having money, or earning trophies, It has to be what do they do each day, the value that are they bringing each day.
So what is your calling? What is your mission in coaching? There is an enormous amount of freedom that comes with being who you want to be as a coach without worrying about the results. We don't control the results. We do have control over the process. And we do control who we become as a result of the chase. Our legacy won't be about how many championships we won or titles. Our legacy is always going to be measured by how our players talk about us after we are gone.
When your players have their own children and their children ask them: Who did you play for? What was he like? I watched recently on HBO a documentary about Dean Smith that illustrates this point. Coach Dean Smith Legacy and I also read this morning about the legacy of Coach John Wooden: Coach John Wooden Legacy.
When your former players talk about you, that's your legacy!