I was recently listening to a podcast, The Physical Preparation, with Mike Robertson and Brett Bartholomew. During the podcast, both guys discussed experiences related to coaching & talked about some things that I thought were important to write about and reiterate for myself and any coaches who read this blog.

Passion is contagious. People follow passion and presence (good and bad).

I remember back when I first started out as a coach; I had some knowledge, but nothing in comparison to what I’ve learned through time and the philosophy I’ve developed today. Early on, players improved and teams achieved good results. In terms of my role as a leader and coach, I have little doubt that passion was the leading force behind positive outcomes. Basic knowledge helped, but passion carried me through holes in my knowledge, and to a degree, I’m sure it still does to this day.

Athletes don’t start by following the knowledge of a coach, they follow the person. As I’ve mentioned, knowledge is important and takes people to new heights, but passion, presence, and genuine concern are the prerequisites. When they feel these qualities from you as a coach, they’ll do just about anything you ask, and as many of you know, getting people moving in the same direction is a big part of team success. I find this especially true when coaching at the middle school and high school levels; having the attention & respect of those you lead, coupled with basic knowledge, will lead to some form of results. When you put passion, love, presence, and a quality philosophy together, amazing things become possible.

From my earliest ages, I can always remember my grandpa and my dad talking about the key to business isn’t strategy or sales pitches, it’s people; human connection and understanding. Again, it’s not that they didn’t have good strategy or weren’t intelligent, they knew what came first was a genuine relationship. They knew understanding the person was more important than the product or service itself, which leads me to my next point that was discussed in the podcast.

We have to understand who we are coaching.

Some need an authoritative approach, while there are others who don’t respond well to that. Different situations and days may call for different things. Humans don’t fit into a box. Understanding a players’ personality can help a coach determine the best way to guide their improvement. Personally, I try to be constantly aware of this from an individual as well as a team perspective within the ebs and flows of a season. I frequently ask myself questions such as these:

How can I reach this person? What does my team need from me today? What is their body language telling me? Do they need a kick in the pants or a calming presence? Who am I coaching? Does the person respond to a louder tone or do they prefer individual conversation? What’s their perspective, have I put myself in their shoes?

Just being aware of these questions will help make us better coaches and leaders. I know I don’t always get it right, and neither will you, but putting a concerted effort on connection is as crucial as any strategy you will have. I love talking X’s & O’s, player development, practice plans, strength, and movement patterns, but it’s all secondary to the connection we make with the individuals we are coaching.

If you can’t reach em, you can’t truly teach em!!