Because it’s the #1 Question I get asked and it’s something I’ve had to deal with many times over the years, I’ve been thinking a lot about how we, as New Breed coaches, can do right by our athletes and help our less evolved colleagues entertain the possibility of a better way than regurgitating the same ‘Repeat 200’ program for the 15th year in a row. So, based on my personal experience and countless conversations with frustrated parents, coaches, athletes and trainers from all over the world, here is what I *know:
If you want your ideas to be heard, you can’t come in with a ‘Shock and Awe’ campaign. Coaches who are comfortable doing the same old crap will recoil in horror like a 7 year old girl who just walked in on you eating the cookies she left out for Santa Claus. Nice job Dad, you ruined Christmas for little Sally. Nothing will ever be the same again. Now she’ll be working at Hooters by her 18th birthday.
It’s simply too overwhelming to have to treat coaching like a real job. So you can’t overwhelm people with your fancy pants ‘coaching education’ and ‘certifications’ and ‘knowledge’. Especially when dealing with coaches who have been around a while and fundamentally believe their ways and long standing Traditions are the only way.
Do that and you’ll get to experience the human version of a rat trapped in a corner. (They bite. Hard.)
You can’t necessarily use Logic and Reason, either. Or, what’s it called? Oh yeah.
Studies show that most people will tightly hold onto their belief systems, even when presented with overwhelming evidence to the contrary. Want proof? Just take a look at how people vote against their own best interest election after election. (Perhaps we are not as evolved a species as we like to give ourselves credit for.)
‘Logic, Reason and Science’ works better than a ‘Shock and Awe’ campaign. But, chances are, all the A Workout Program Signed by Jesus Couldn’t Get Me to Change My Ways Coach hears you saying is, “Hey Ass Clown, you’re wrong! I’m right. You are inadequate as a human being.”
And you may be right. But you’re not going to get anywhere with these types of people unless you handle the situation without emotion. You can’t train speed in a state of fatigue and you can’t sway someone to your point of view if you’re bordering on murderous rage.
Truth is, a lot of coaches aren’t really interested in developing skills in their athletes or learning anything new. They just like hanging out with some kids after school and collecting a couple grand to do it. Success is directly proportional to the what the Law of Probability dictates because they’re not developing skilled athletes, they’re just managing talent. Doesn’t make them bad people, just bad coaches. And I don’t really have a problem with that under the following condition: If you’d rather be a babysitter than a coach, just be upfront about it. Then take 2 weeks off. Then quit.
No matter where you live, high school sports are a highly Socialist, nepotistic, Good ‘Ol Boy construct. You don’t get paid for getting results. You don’t get fired for not getting results. And you don’t have to be qualified to coach. Generally, you just have to be a carbon based life form who works at the school, and, ideally, be able to pronounce the name of the sport you want to coach in three tries or less. Doesn’t matter if you can currently fit 6 of your high school selves into your current body as long as you’re a Good ‘Ol Boy and you know whose ring to kiss. As an entrepreneur and a New Breed coach, I find this offensive. But it is what it is. And its par for the course all over the world.
So if the ‘Shock and Awe’ campaign makes you a pariah, the ‘Logic, Reason & Science’ approach gets you the stink face and you’re not willing to kiss the ring of some hobbit with a Napoleon Complex, what do you do?
I’d love to get your thoughts and stories in the comments section below, but I really only see two options, neither of which are exciting if you want to get results in the near future:
First, you can try the ‘Boiling Frogs’ approach. This will probably work if you’re really skilled and patient. But I look at it as a multi-year process. And that doesn’t help you if you’re a parent or an athlete with a narrow window of opportunity.
But if we, as New Breed coaches, want to institute foundational, positive, long term change to the way young people are developed – physically, emotionally, technically, etc., we have to adopt the second option…
Become living examples of a philosophy espoused by those rare individuals who have reached levels of consciousness far beyond the average human:
I’m not trying to get preachy or self righteous. I don’t have the moral authority. And I’m no stranger to the ‘Shock and Awe’ approach, as well as several others that don’t work. I am not a perfect person by any stretch of the imagination. And, if you know me, you know I’ve never claimed anything of the sort. But I do try to learn from my mistakes. Like Jay-Z says, “It’s all about progression.”
When you invest in your athletes through ongoing coaching education and create a positive, exciting, cutting edge training environment, you’re going to start getting eye opening results.
Because kids want to be the best they can be. They’re silently begging to be heard and to be led. New Breed coaches provide that experience and that is why we’re successful. It really has very little to do with how many 40s we do (or don’t do) today.
The bottom line is: Kids don’t want to be left on their own every day so practice turns into Romper Room. They don’t want to have barbecues and pizza parties every other week. They want to get better. They want to run varsity, stand on the podium, get a medal (seriously, kids will chew through concrete to earn a $2 medal at a meet), see their name in the paper and, did I mention kids love winning medals?
They’ll follow you if you make them feel good about themselves. And a little individual attention goes a long way. Because I run a serious program, I’m often accused of being an elitist. Of only paying attention to the top 10%. That a focus on ‘winning’ has no place at the high school level. (I will address this absurdity in an upcoming article or video.) I don’t just give individual attention to the kids breaking records. I pay attention to the kids who pay attention, no matter where they fall on the food chain. Kids will pretty much do what they’re told by the adult coach in charge. They have no other choice. But it doesn’t mean they like it. And it doesn’t mean they believe in their coaching.
(Want to win over your team? Memorize the seasonal goals of your JV kids and then, one day, when one of them is half-assing, say, “Your goal sheet says you want to achieve X GOAL. Not gonna happen with that kind of effort.” JV kids don’t think you’re paying attention to them. But if you are and they know it, all you have to do is look at them and they know you know. And the overall effort of the program goes up. Your program operates just like the food chain: Survival at the top doesn’t happen without a strong, healthy population at the bottom.)
But if you run a ‘Group Individualized’ program (I stole that from Tony Veney) athletes will quickly start to compare your program (and relationship with them) to their experience in another sport/coach and choose to spend more time with you. They’ll tell their parents about how much fun they’re having and the performances speak for themselves. Kids talk. Parents talk. Your program will grow in a positive direction, as will your reputation.
Just be prepared for the backlash. Because everyone hates a winner. (Don’t believe me? Name one highly successful person you know of, famous or otherwise, who doesn’t get hated on with regularity. That’s right. You can’t.) So the haters will be out in full force. And by ‘full force’ I mean they’ll smile to your face, talk trash behind your back and/or send you unsigned letters in the mail. You just have to accept its going to happen. People I’ve known my whole life have said some hurtful and obnoxious things about me (behind my back, of course). There’s no point in freaking out about it. Because I’m a firm believer in the Law of Karma, also known as ‘You reap what you sow’.
So you’ll be accused of ‘recruiting’ and stealing athletes from other sports. You’ll also be the cause of Global Warming, the reason babies poop their pants and, nice try asshole, but we didn’t forget what you did to little Sally.
Of course you’re not doing any of these things, but to those with no concept of a world where kids are capable of making independent, autonomous choices about where and how they spend their free time, it will seem that way. People drunk on Hater-ade aren’t going to hear your point of view or acknowledge all of the good things you do. But what do you expect? You are the one who ruined Christmas.
And what’s that smell? Good God, man. You just made another innocent baby crap itself. What’s next on your list of abominations? If you melt a few more glaciers, maybe you can kill off the last polar bear. Jerk.
I’m a firm believer our actions define who we are. And other peoples’ reactions say far more about them than they do about you. Remember that the next time someone slanders you behind your back.
Your supporters (parents, coaches and athletes alike) will see right through their BS. So if, in your heart of hearts, you know you’re living your life in service to others, persevere and continue to be the change you want to see in others.
It’s not easy. And you might be up against a status quo so firmly entrenched you have to take your talents elsewhere. But fighting, arguing and belittling your adversaries only serves to teach young people all the wrong things. No matter who thinks they’re in the right. So don’t go down that road. Gandhi also said, “There is no path to peace, peace is the path.”
Let that marinate in your mind for a while.
If the people around you can’t get on board, you’ll have no choice but to find people who will. That’s ultimately the choice I made. Now when I go to the school, I feel energized and excited instead of feeling like I’m going to lose my lunch. It’s awesome. And that’s how it should be. For everyone.
That’s all I’ve got! If you have a better solution to this fundamental problem in the world of athletics (and world in general), I’m all ears! Post your comments below.