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coaching

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.

The Art of Coaching (Part One)

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.

Tools Needed

1. Master

It takes 10,000 hours to master a particular skill. So they say. This involves patience while you learn from every mistake. You will not do it right all the time. Take notes of each workout and conversations you have with your athletes. How are you communicating and executing your plan? Is it well received?

What are you teaching? Are you teaching? Regardless of the level you coach, you must reinforce the basics everyday. Do you know the basics? You should be a student of your sport. Learn the science behind each movement (Newton’s Laws of Motion, Kinesiology, energy systems of the body, the Central Nervous System, hydration, nutrition, specific race plans). Take your new knowledge and apply it in light of your goal for the athlete and season. Observe and report. Remember you are a scientist just as much as a motivational speaker. Read, listen, and take someone out for lunch to learn from their experiences. (I personally have a goal to take 3 coaches out to lunch/coffee a year. This has helped my training philosophy greatly).

2. Simplicity

 There is such a thing as too much. Know when to stop. Under training is better then over training. Have a plan, but keep it simple. The more complicated the workout or training plan will call for a complicated explanation. The athlete may lose what you are trying to have them achieve in their training. This loss in translation can make or break a workout and season. 

3. Specificity

A simple Google search will bring a long list of activities one can do to get better (for example, 400m workouts by Clyde Hart or Jim Bush). If every coach did this, wouldn’t everyone be successful? Only you know your culture, school, team, and athlete. The big question here is how does it all fit in with what you are trying to accomplish. It is the task of the coach to write a meaningful training regimen with this big picture in mind. The coach is preparing the athlete to succeed at the highest level in and during competition.   Do not waste practice and be intentional with every minute you have in regards to your overall goal.  This takes planning and preparation.

The best coach learns how each athlete learns.

Then they meet them there.

Next post: The Art of Coaching Part Two - Demonstration, Memory, Vision Plan

8 ways to Grow as a Leader

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1. Desire Growth

First, you have to want to get better. Are you satisfied with “pretty good” or just getting by? You may justify that you like to be comfortable in your job, but in reality are you striving for a reason to be lazy? Laziness is not a trademark of a leader. Lazy is for sheep. If you are reading this, you want to be a shepherd. You desire growth.

2.  Be Humble in the Face of Criticism

Correction is hard to take. But no one does it perfectly. Some of the best lessons I have learned as a leader have been challenging and hard. I like to think that correction from someone not only gives me the opportunity to change, but allows me to think through other perspectives. As a leader, you must have thick skin. You can’t build massive biceps unless you work hard and tear up your muscles at the gym.

3. Seek Wise Counsel

It is important to have people in your life that are readily available to give you wise and trustworthy counsel. I have 4 guys I regularly go to; each of these friends have a specific role in my life and how they counsel me in my leadership. Do you have anyone you can go to? One of George Washington’s best contributions was the invention of his carefully appointed advisors, known as the Cabinet. This wasn’t written in the Constitution, but he created this because he knew the importance of having a group of men around him to give him counsel. Who is in your cabinet? Do they know their roles?

4. Have a greater purpose

The famous quote by Eric Liddle states, “God made me fast and when I run I feel his pleasure.”

I recently had a talk with a mentor of mine who mentioned this statement. He talked about the importance of what I do and how I feel when I take part in it. Fill in the following blanks:

“God made me ________, and when I ________ I feel his pleasure.”

What would you place in those blanks? What is your greater purpose in your leadership?

5. Stop the Repeat

I have been an assistant coach for a number of head coaches who have said the same thing. “I have been doing this for 35 years. I know what I am doing.”  What I wanted to say in response was, “No, you did it once then just repeated it for 34 more years.” This should give you a healthy fear of repeating the same performance. Stop the repeat and get better. There is always something to tweak, change, or make better. Good leadership never settles for mediocrity.

6. Learn from Everyone

My dad used to tell me, “They teach you how to do it and how not to do it.”  Before I became a head coach, some of the worst coaches I coached for taught me a lot, mostly how not to do things. Are you looking to learn from the worst leaders?  They can teach you more than you may realize.

7. Read

Harry S. Truman once said, “Not all readers are leaders, but all leaders are readers.”

Read. Then read some more. Read with a friend. Read with a spouse. Gain new perspectives and further your understanding in order to improve on whatever you’re reading about. I try to read for about 30 minutes before I sleep every night. (Sometimes more if the book is really good). I sleep better and I learn something. Knowledge is in books, not on American Idol. 

8. Celebrate Small Victories

Do not be too important to be passionate about your role. Be enthusiastic with your leadership. Some of my favorite coaches to watch are Pete Carroll or Jim Harbaugh – their passion and excitement is contagious. Athletes want to be led by a coach that is charismatic in their beliefs. Do you believe in your own leadership? Don’t be too important to miss out on what is happening around you. Be excited about having Gatorade dumped on you after a win; tackle an athlete that just broke the school record; storm the court after a win. Show that you care.

Growth will happen when you seek it out. It will not happen because you were given a title. It is an unfortunate commentary, but a good leader is an exception not the norm. Be the exception!

 

Improvise. Adapt. Overcome

Improvise. Adapt. Overcome

True Leadership is defined in how you respond when things do not go according to plan. Let’s be honest, life rarely goes as planned. In your leadership, it is exhausting and frustrating if you try to control every situation. Truly great leaders are the ones who are able to rise above the unplanned problems and difficult situations that come up, while maintaining their goals, vision, and authority.

What is Coaching and CoachAyers.com

What is Coaching? 

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Coaching is a one-on-one interactive relationship that helps people identify and accomplish their personal and professional goals faster than they could on their own. Think of Coach Ayers as an assistant coach whose responsibility is to ensure the Head Coach becomes a better leader, who leads with vision, values, and the ability to lead a program into long lasting success. 

What is CoachAyers.com?

CoachAyers.com is a coaching firm founded by JT Ayers. Coach J.T. Ayers is a proven leader who has demonstrated a unique ability to teach, motivate, and direct students, athletes, coaches, and professionals, helping them to maintain high levels of engagement and achievement. As a coach and mentor, Coach Ayers has worked effectively with athletes and professionals on all levels of the spectrum, proving his ability to impact leaders where they are, and helping them get where they want to go. Coach Ayers is a self-motivated educator and coach, exhibiting strong discipline, effective planning, organization, and leadership skills. 

Who do we typically coach?

A wide variety of people can benefit from coaching. In our practice we focus primarily on:

- Leaders who are striving to work smarter rather than harder

- Coaches who desire to be more effective in their programs

- People who are trying to balance life and work priorities

- Leaders who are interested in creating intentional vision with values

- Leaders who want to accelerate their own personal growth and achieve measurable goals

- Organizations that are seeking to develop high potential leaders

We specialize in coaching high potential people, organizational leaders, and team leaders looking for someone to walk alongside them in order to help them achieve their goals.

Interested in receiving Coaching? Contact Coach Ayers and become a better leader today. 

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

http://TrabucoTrack.mobapp.at

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

www.mailchimp.com

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

http://www.squarespace.com/

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.

Ask:

- 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

How to Think About Your Mistakes

How to Think About Your Mistakes

If athletes were afraid to make a mistakes, the world would have no hurdlers.

If athletes were afraid to make a mistakes, the world would have no hurdlers.

Mistakes and Failure will happen. It’s inevitable. Even as I type these first few sentences, I am filled with dread and anxiety wondering if I’ve made errors. We don’t like mistakes. We cover them up and try to hide the failures. We simply do not want people to know or think that we are not doing a good job. An effective leader learns from their mistakes and is not afraid to face the fear of failure.

Expect to make a mistake.

Nothing comes out perfectly. Babe Ruth struck out twice as often as he hit home runs. Albert Einstein failed his college entrance exam; teachers described him as “mentally slow, and adrift in foolish dreams.” Walt Disney was fired from his first media job for “lack of imagination.” Michael Jordan was cut from his high school basketball team. I recently talked with a coach that felt his team was very good; they just couldn’t win a game.

How about Competing not to Lose

This philosophy will only result a “self-fulfilling prophesy” – you will lose.  When has playing it safe worked? This never works out in the long run.  The solider hiding in the foxhole will get hit. The real question is are you competing to hold back and find excuses?

I think this attitude and mindset extends beyond the playing field. I would say that most people play not to lose. In other words, most of us live in such a way that our main focus is on not ruining our lives with some kind of a major failure.

 - Steven Furtick

In the face of a decision or future goal, go all in. There will always be the possibility of failure. If you are gonna fall, fall bravely and with style (see hurdler above). This has little to do with actual falling, but if you are going into something and make a mistake do it fearlessly and aggressively – so you can learn from it.

We will never be able to completely avoid mistakes. Now when a mistake happens, and it will, think of it as an opportunity to:

 1. Be optimistic

Character is revealed not in the wins but in the losses. You can control your response to this mistake. Expectations – don’t be too surprised. 

2.   Take Responsibility

It’s probably everyone’s fault but yours. I have seen coaches blame their athletes for “not listening,” or not “following the game plan.” I have been guilty of this in the past. Of course you made the greatest game plan since John Wooden, but if they only listened. But let’s be honest, the “buck still stops at you.” You are the boss, the leader, the coach. Taking responsibility is a crucial step in this process. 

3.    Learn

- What could I or should I have done differently?

- What can I learn from this?

- What can I take away from this that will help me in the future?

4.   Get over it

I read a post a long time ago that was worth saving. JC Maxwell explained: 

The five behaviors of people who haven’t gotten over past difficulties:

- Comparison. Either measuring your failures against those of others, or convincing yourself that your circumstances were harder than theirs.

- Rationalization. Telling yourself and others that you have good reasons for not getting over past hurts and mistakes. Believing that those who encourage you “just don’t understand.”

- Isolation. Pulling back and keeping yourself separate from others, either to avoid dealing with the issues, or to continue to feel sorry for yourself.

- Regret. Getting stuck lamenting or trying to fix things that cannot be changed.

- Bitterness. Feeling like a victim and blaming others for negative outcomes.

No matter what behavior you are experiencing; it isn’t good. This loss, this mistake, this failure might be the best thing that has ever happened to your leadership. Find that teachable moment for both you and your team.

 Be optimistic about the opportunity, take responsibility, learn from your mistake, and get over it. I know this is easier said then done. Find a friend, a coach, and/or a mentor – they will help you.

Now be prepared, better yet expect, to make a mistake. Then be prepared to achieve more then you ever thought possible.