“Don’t make the mistake of thinking you can avoid the struggles and failures of this experience. That’s where you will gain the strength and experience to climb the mountain.”
Chapter 5 Reflection Question: Who is the greatest coach you have ever known? What qualities did you admire most about them?
This chapter revolved around core values surrounding your coaching philosophy. The reflection question relates to self-assessment of the pillars of your program and the mentors that have shaped your beliefs. This is a succinct chapter that covers the foundation for any coach in any part of their journey. The main character in Calling Up references John Wooden pyramid for success and how it constantly evolved throughout his coaching career. The philosophy that you have now is not static, but it is indicative of the experiences that you have had to this point and vision for the near-future.
As for my response to the Reflection Question – I will reference one quality from 3 separate coaches that I think has had an impact on my approach towards coaching.
Fair & Firm
My first assistant coach playing collegiately was tough. For context, I was a low man on the totem pole coming into the program – not recruited or evaluated prior to coming out for the team. Each and every day that I went to practice he would jump on me for mistakes the same as the 4-year starter. All the same, he’d be the first one to tell me that I made a good decision. There was consistency in his coaching style, balancing reinforcement and reprimand that I appreciated as an athlete wanting to improve.
Develop a System
One of the most successful coaches that I had the privilege of working for was transparent in system. There was no question what we were doing offensively. There was no question how we were going to practice – live repetition to improve execution. His approach to recruiting was consistent, along with how he motivated his student-athletes to develop during the offseason (reminds them of the short rotations he kept during gameday). He was unorthodox in the way he went about his business, but he was true to his style of play and his conviction towards what wins games. A system creates clarity. Clarity is conducive to understanding standards and the why we didn’t meet expectations in a given situation.
Program over Team
This could be considered common knowledge. However, all of the core values that you stand for can determine whether or not you are coaching the current team for immediate success, or building a program that can sustain it. First and foremost, this was always a great recruiting pitch. Think program then compare the greatest organizations in recent history – New England Patriots, San Antonio Spurs, Duke Basketball, or Alabama Football. Outside of having great minds as coaches, there are comprehensive elements to there success. Program infers tradition, social support, athletic development/training, transparent leadership with open dialogue, and pride in the legacy that carries over from year-to-year. Are you building a program that players take pride in as future parents? Are you valuing victories as a team over relationships that will last?
These are 3 core values that I try to emulate as a coach. I get challenged consistently with this question –
“If a stranger came to one of your games or spoke at random to one of your student-athletes what would they say about you as a coach or your program?”
My response is collective competitiveness. Would my kids give something synonymous in response? To be honest, I’m not sure yet that’s why I still have work to do. And reading books or sharing from others can help with perspective. What would your core values be? Or how would your student-athletes identify their program?