As a coach, what does success look like? How do you want your players, your coaching staff, your parents to view success? What is a successful season? The answer to this question is different for coaches, but it is the question that is of crucial importance. I believe that many coaches do not define success; they do not invest the time to think about what success means and looks like for their program, they are not intentional and purposeful about their coaching philosophy. Many coaches confuse success with goals. Most coaches are great at goal setting – Win a championship, make the playoffs, score more goals than the other team, etc. Goal setting is a good thing, but if you do not have the foundation and understanding of what success looks like, you have done your players a disservice. Goal setting is getting your players to chop down trees, understanding what success looks like is making sure your players are in the right forest. Here is my advice that will hopefully help you define success for your program. This is not a quick process, take your time and be intentional. This has helped me and it is important to revisit regularly
1. From the end we find our beginning – When your players and coaches walk away at the end of the season, what do you want them to take with them? What knowledge? What values? What principles? When you take time to answer these questions hopefully you will arrive at the fact that you are teaching more than winning or losing. You, as a coach, are teaching life. You are teaching kids how to work as a team, how to communicate effectively, the benefits of hard work and discipline, how to handle adversity, etc. These principles and life lessons will serve your team infinitely more than winning a championship.
2. Experience is the best teacher – Think about your coaches, teachers and mentors. What did they teach you that is worthy of paying forward? What did you learn from them that you would do differently?
3. Process not outcome – In our culture we measure success by wins. As an athlete, I know that in order to have a championship season you need a lot of luck and a solid foundation. A couple of pipes here or there and a season can turnout completely different. Focus on the process. How can you structure your practice in such a way that you are teaching success everyday? The process is and always will be more important than the outcome. Focus your energy here, it is the one thing you can control.
4. Communicate – Tell your coaches, tell your players, tell you parents. And then tell them again. And again. And again. Tell them what a successful season looks like to you, what is important and why.
5. Practice what you preach – All eyes are on you as a coach whether you like it or not. It comes with the territory. Nothing undermines trust as fast as a hypocrite. Kids are very perceptive. Your actions must reflect your words. If you make a mistake along the way, which if you are honest with yourself this will happen (guess what? You are human), admit it and move on. Do not pretend like it did not happen. Ask your staff to keep you honest. Ask them if you are walking the walk. If you believe it, live it and kids will follow your example.
This helps me as a coach, player and person and I hope it helps you, your athletes and your program. It is important to revisit at the beginning of every season. Take the time to make sure you are in the right forest before you start chopping trees!