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February 16, 2011 • Athletic AdministrationCoaching

Ten business truisms that apply to sports, coaching

We should always try to learn and get better. I’m always scouring the internet for anything that makes me a better coach, and I once read an article about business truism that can improve your life. I discovered that many of those principles apply to athletics.

Here are 10 practical lessons that will change the way you coach.

Ten coaching truisms

1. If you don’t know, say so. If you don’t know what you’re talking about, stop talking. Too often, we think we must have all the answers because of that adjective (coach) in front of our name. If we have all of the answers, that’s because we’ve stopped learning, and that’s never a good thing.

2. Don’t jump ship before you hit the iceberg. Hang in their physically and mentally with your team until the bitter end. Most times, we can read the writing on the wall about our teams and we can tell when the season is a bust. That’s no reason not to hit it hard with video, or to stop being creative in practice, or to cease trying to make your players better.

3. Confidence comes from success; knowledge comes from failure. In my mind, there’s no greater teacher than failure and no greater motivator than success. I’m sure most of us wouldn’t be the coaches we are today without some significant failure in our past, so use it as an opportunity to learn.

4. If you’re miserable, quit and do something else. If you’re still miserable, it’s you. We’ve all been around the folks who complain all the time: Their team doesn’t have enough financial support, they’re working crazy hours, their team is underachieving, etc. So maybe coaching isn’t your gig. If it is, the rest of us don’t want to hear about it because we’re happy.

5. People won’t perform for those they don’t respect. Your team doesn’t have to love you or even like you (though that’d be nice), but they do have to respect you. They should respect your knowledge of the game, your interest in their well-being and the way you coach them. I’m not saying they should always agree with you, but respect is on a higher level.

6. If you’re not passionate about what you’re doing, you won’t be successful. I once wrote a “Pyramid of Success” series, based on the John Wooden tool. One of the cornerstones of that pyramid is enthusiasm. If you have it, show it. If you don’t have it, go get it. Enthusiasm and passion are critical to the success of your team.

7. Conflict is healthy; anger is not. Get some help for that. I once wrote an article about yelling at your players and provided three ways that you can get the most from your team without screaming at them. You’re going to have to manage your team and, over the course of the season, that probably comes with conflict. Control yourself, so that you can control the situation.

8. No matter how smart you are, wisdom only comes from experience. When I first started coaching, I knew everything. And with each proceeding year, I knew less and less. Funny how that works out.

Book knowledge of how things should work with your team is only valuable when combined with the street knowledge of how things actually work. If you’re new to coaching, hook up with someone who’s been at it a while and learn all you can.

9. Whine and complain all you want — nothing will change. We’ll listen to you, but we can’t help — so why even start down that path? We can’t make your alums more involved, or your recruits commit earlier, or your boss give you a raise. So let’s celebrate the fact that we get to coach, teach kids life lessons and be happy with what we have.

10. The boss isn’t always right, but they’re still the boss. What else is there to say beyond that? Our job is to coach ‘em up and make our bosses look good. Beyond that, we should give the boss the respect that we want from our teams.

I’ve always thought that the link between the athletics and business world is pretty strong and the article I found about business truisms was a good demonstration of that.

Dawn Redd is the head volleyball and assistant track & field coach at Beloit College in Wisconsin.


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