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The Art of Coaching (Part Two)

Coaching is an art, a skill, and a constant case of behavioral science. A good coach needs to be a good scientist. He or she must take careful notes through observation and constantly test out hypotheses. To get an athlete to improve is a serious responsibility. The coach must incorporate different environments, various motivations, and a specific set of tools to ensure the athlete can reach their maximum potential. In my most recent post, The Art of Coaching: Part One, we looked at the tools of being a master, making it simple, and being as specific as possible.

Click Here for Part One

Tools needed (part two):

4. Demonstration

The best teacher is the one that can demonstrate what is being taught. Literally, show the athlete what the skill should and can look like when done right. This does not mean, for example, the coach needs to be fast or faster then the sprinter, but what is important is for the coach to demonstrate the proper form, posture, and technique (even if in slow motion). This will give the athlete a visual to mirror. Being a demonstrator means you need to workout. The older I get the harder it is to demonstrate. I also talk more then I warm-up. So pulling muscles and ending the day sore is a common occurrence.

Try downloading the free app Ubersence. Your slow-motion video taping at practice has never been easier.

5. Observation

In part one, I called the coach a scientist. Observation is one of the key elements of any good science. The coach must learn how to watch their athletes. I video tape practice and meets, put it in slow motion at practice, and observe the movements of the athlete. This type of observation has helped me learn to can count an athlete’s steps in between the 300m hurdles. Good observers know where to place themselves physically to capture the correct movement. I once heard that John Wooden used to sit in the nose bleed section to observe and watch his team from a different perspective.

6. Memory

Practice to compete. This happens when you slow down and teach the correct movements. If the athlete hurdles, jumps, throws, vaults, or sprints in the wrong way, they will only learn how to continue to do it wrong. “Perfect practice makes perfect.” My warm-up is 35-45 minutes long and breaks down proper sprint drills. You have to walk before you can sprint. We walk our A-skips, C-Skips, straight leg bounds, etc. before the athletes go full speed.

7. Vision Plan

A good coach creates a vision plan with strategic goals for the season. If you want to get from point A to point B you must identify where point B is. For my athletes this season, it is the League Championship. We work to that end goal. I work backwards from that date and create a template for the work I would like the team to accomplish. Each week I write the specific workouts based on the needs for the team in light of my vision plan.

Too many coaches show up the day of and make up the workouts. This is preposterous. You will see so much more improvement you if you have a plan.

The best coach learns how each athlete learns.

Then they meet them there.

In the Face of Criticism

In the Face of Criticism

As a Leader, you will try to make everyone happy.

This will never happen.

You will try though. I do. I like to be liked. Who doesn’t?
When you are leading, you must make choices everyday. It’s inevitable that someone will find some fault with your choices. There are usually two responses when this happens:

6 Steps to Speech Success

There they sit with an attentive ear. They sit in silence with anticipation of what you will say. As a leader you are about to address your audience with something important.

What have you done to prepare for this event?

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I have been an assistant coach for a head coach who was never prepared for his team meetings. It showed. Before practice even began he had lost the team. How do you follow or respect your leader when they seem to have no idea where they are going themselves? 

Knowing what to say and how to say it is crucial to being a leader.

Here are 6 easy steps to help you:

1. Brainstorm

Spend some time thinking about what you want to say. Ernest Hemmingway has been attributed to saying, “Write drunk and edit sober.” Think like that. Put everything down, brainstorm, and get all your thoughts out on paper. Then read it over again, edit and organize your thoughts.

2. Organize

Put your thoughts in order. Basic psychology states that people will remember the first and last thing you say. Organize your speech with that in mind.

3. Your Delivery

How are your going to say what matters? Some issues you must be passionate and inspirational about. Others you can breeze through. You audience will become conditioned to pay attention more or less based on your different tones of voice. Don’t mix this up.

4. Stay Focused

Keep ideas clear, relevant, and simple. If you say too much, too much will be lost. I personally believe in addressing only 3-4 things at a time. If I miss something, I’ll get to it tomorrow.

5. Rehearse 

I don’t always practice my speeches out loud or in front of a mirror, but I always go through them in my mind before hand. A quick rehearsal helps me keep all the steps in mind and is beneficial for my delivery.

6. Work the Room

Make eye contact with individuals. Be seen. Napoleon was supposedly short. I’m sure most of his speeches were from his horse. I’m sort of vertically impaired, so I have my team sit or take a knee so everyone can see me. Get feedback. Have another trusted leader watch you and give you feedback. Ask them to tell you if you have any weird ticks or habits. Do you say “um” too much?
As the leader of the group it is your job to cast vision, objectives, and goals. You are the face of the program, organization, or group. However, getting up in front is the first step. Know what you are going to say, organize your thoughts, prepare your delivery, stay focused, and rehearse. Now watch your group soar!  

Communication: The Most Important Factor to Leadership Success

Good communication is one of the most significant aspects of your leadership. In today’s world there is so much technology that is used for communication. Your target audience has a variety of ways to receive information from you.  This is an exciting and ever-changing world that we live in, but here is your problem:

How do you effectively communicate to so many people in so many different formats?

How can you reach everyone according the their preferred methods of communicating?

Your athletes, parents, administration, fans, and other interested parties are already using these tools for communication.

 Are you?

 Here is your solution and guide for leadership communication in the 21st century:

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1.    Team App

I think we are one of the first teams to create an app for our program. This has been a game changer! I send out notifications, have resources, schedules, maps, lists, etc. all on this thing. This tool is used for people already in our program who need to know inside information.


2.     Mass Email with MailChimp

Email is outdated. Crazy, right? But it is. When emailing a large group of people you need a way for your audience to receive information that is quick, easy on the eyes, and very informative. MailChimp is fantastic. It’s free (unless the group is too large) and allows you to create an online newsletter sent as an email. In my experience, 78% of people who receive my newsletters view them on a phone. Mailchimp makes it easy to read, scroll, click, etc. You design a custom template for every email. For you, the work is relatively minimal.

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3.   Team Website

You need a place where you can put important information, update it regularly, and people can find it easily. I love directing people to our website. This reminds me of that saying, “You can give someone a fish and he can eat for a day, or you can teach a person to fish and he can eat for a lifetime.”  Once people know where the information is, they can get there by themselves the next time and keep going back to get what they need. I typically don’t hear from them again. Use Squarespace and develop your own site. You can do it for $8 a month!

4.     Twitter/Instagram/Facebook

Create updates people are interested in. Other people can add pictures to the group with a #hashtag. This allows your audience to have a group to belong to.  Your program can be the cool group on campus. 

5.     Phone call

Some people still like phone calls. Bring back the personal touch in communication.

6.    Texting

Quick and easy. 99% of my athletes and coaches prefer this mode of communication. They can get back to me right away, or once they have thought about a response. Often times, they are somewhere they can’t talk, so it’s quicker.

So which on is the best one? Answer: all of them. Start with asking your audience how they like to give and receive information or which one they prefer to communicate with.


- Best way to reach you (phone, text, email)?

- When can I expect your reply (immediate, hour(s), days)?

 It is simply impossible to become a great leader without being a great communicator. – Mike Myatt Forbes .com

The Power of Questions

The Power of Questions

A good leader is a person who leads with people and not at people.  It is crucial to ensure that those I lead are valued and appreciated. In my experience, I have found the answer to this dilemma is to ASK GOOD QUESTIONS. 

12 Most Common Complaints of Leaders

12 Most Common Complaints of Leaders

Several months ago I began compiling a list of some of the common complaints I hear. I grouped some of them together for brevity and went with the top 12, most repeated. I personally believe I am less likely to improve where I don’t know I need to improve. This was an awareness exercise for me as much as anything.

The Top 3 Benefits of Coaching

1. Issues we Focus on:

Common issues that our clients are looking to be coached in include:    

Personal leadership growth

Work life balance

Staff dynamics and leadership

 Creating and Implementing Vision

Creating a culture of developing high potential leaders

 Improving communication amongst leader and organization

Creating shared values and guidelines for organization

Creating an environment with smart measurable goals

2. What is included in the skill set of an excellent coach?

An excellent coach is:

A great listener

Excels in problem solving

Enjoys difficult challenges

Has the ability to focus

Consistently offers encouragement and support

Is clear and concise

Has the ability to see through fog to core issues

- Has a wide variety of experience

- Has excellent communication skills

- Desires that clients experience change

- Offers different perspectives

- Is willing to have hard conversations

Willing to challenge and confront when necessary

- Points out what clients may not see

- Insists that the coaching relationship produces results for the client

I am and will be an excellent coach for you!

3. What will Coaching do for you?

A Coach will move you forward toward achieving your goals.

A Coach will help you get unstuck.

A Coach will develop your leadership potential.

A Coach will empower you to accelerate change in your organization.

A Coach will assist your organization in navigating transitions.

A Coach will help you to grow in Character, Health, Life, and Leadership.

Coaching is for anyone that wants to improve his or her leadership.

-       A Head Coach of a sports program

-       A Team Leader in the work place

-       An Individual who desires to see personal growth in their own leadership

Click here to get in Contact with Coach JT Ayers. I will never promise something that I cannot deliver on.