Introducing the 7-Minute Culture Clinic!
I’m excited to share a brand new weekly feature with you! I just added video on my Blog called the 7-Minute Culture Clinic. I will be posting a new video clinic each week. This week I put Doug Stewart, Assistant to Craig Robinson at Oregon State, on the hot seat and ask him to share his best team culture building tips in 7 minutes or less! This is MUST see advice that you dont want to miss
A seemingly simple question. Yet when asked whether he was a “positive” or a “negative” coach, one of my coaching mentors replied, “neither, rather I am an honest one”. He went on to say “I feel that the connotations for “positive” are the whole hovering helicopter parent phenomenon and the give trophies to everyone movement. The always give positive feedback movement has not been a good one for our kids.”
Now, many of you know I worked for the Positive Coaching Alliance (PCA) for 8 years and remain a senior trainer for the organization. My mentor’s comments made me pause. I thought back to my first introduction to PCA – an article in the SF Chronicle featuring Phil Jackson. I still remember my eyes rolling when I first read the phrase “positive coaching” and thinking that’s for little kids. I’m a college coach. Still to this day, I describe myself as a “challenging” coach vs a positive one.
Next, my curiosity drove me to Webster’s. What does the word “positive” actually mean? I discovered 17 different entries! Number 3 dealt with mind set so I started there. It reads a) “having the mind set or settled; confident; assured [a positive person] b) overconfident or dogmatic”.
Here in lies the rub. As coaches we want our athletes to be confident and assured yet not overconfident. I guess what really matters is what a coach is, not what they are called.
What kind of coach are you?
Multi-sport athletes are becoming a rarity. Today’s young athletes face increasing pressure to specialize in one sport at an early age and train year-round. So it was a joy to read Ron Kroichick’s recent article in the San Francisco Chronicle about Jahvid Best’s journey from a “track-loving kid to a Heisman Trophy candidate.”
Best is the nation’s leading returning rusher. Kroichick described him as “a human blur who won the state 100-meter title as a high school senior and now routinely zooms past Pac-10 tacklers.”
Jahvid’s first athletic loves were basketball and track. He started running at age 9 and competed for various track clubs throughout his youth. I loved reading what Best said about how his track days are helping him today:
“I learned how to calm myself down. Track taught me to block out everything else, for 30 seconds at a time, and focus on what you’re doing right now.”
Luckily the adults in Jahvid’s youth did not believe the growing misperception that competitive sport requires exclusivity and that players who play one sport year-round get an edge on those who split time between multiple sports.
Research by Tudor Bompa, a leading expert in the theory of training and coaching, recommends that athletes avoid early sports specialization. He found that those who participate in a variety of sports and specialize only after reaching the age of puberty tend to be more consistent performers, have fewer injuries, and adhere to sports play longer than those who specialize early.
Yes, it’s a rarity that kids play more than one sport these days, and they’re specializing at even earlier ages, but you can counteract that trend even within your own program. One simple way is to encourage your players to play (or at least practice) various positions at different times. In the long run, variety minimizes burnout and gives athletes a 360-degree view of their given sport. My hope is that the next time a youth coach or parent asks you about their child specializing in your sport, you encourage them to reconsider. Maybe your track athlete, who plays basketball and softball, won’t be the next Heisman winner, but their attitude and participation will be energized by the diversity of their experience and their versatility will only add to their athleticism.