Today’s Topic: Managing Your Expectations as a Coach
Hi everyone. My name is Jimmy Yoo and I am a high performance coach here at Complete Performance Coaching. I’m one of five coaches who are here to help you find success and to get better as an athlete. Today I’m going to focus on coaches and how they can help their athletes become more confident and better on the field.
A little more about me. When I’m not coaching, I’m also a travel team lacrosse coach and I’m going to share my experiences.
My Lacrosse Team
Last Wednesday I was traveling with my team in Utah. We played five games there in a travel recruitment tournament, and some of my players even played extra games in a showcase. Some of them played what amounted to eight to ten games for that day.
We then traveled to Colorado and played a tournament on Saturday – same thing, a recruitment showcase tournament where kids were playing a minimum of five games. If they played in showcase tournaments, extra games, and all star games, they were playing up to eight to ten more games.
If you look at it in a five day span, they were playing up to 20 games – that’s a lot. As a traveling team, coach expectations are high. The athletes are signed up, they want to be successful, they’re here to win tournaments. They’re here to get recruited by college coaches, look their best, play their best, and get better. There’s a lot of expectation and a lot of pressure to perform well.
My advice, as a high performance coach, is to be consistent in order to develop what I call the pre, the during, and the post expectations.
Pre, During and Post Expectations for Coaches
I’m piggybacking off of Sara who talked about pre-performance routines in the past, and Rebecca who talked about getting, regaining, and losing confidence, and how to get it back during performance. Refer back to them as well. I think they have great information about it and I’m just piggybacking off of them.
Focus on the Little Things
Confidence in situations, that’s pre. What I’m talking about here is that expectation, what is that big outcome goal? These kids are here to perform well, they want to do well in front of college coaches, they want to get recruited, and they want to win. So coaches, go into every practice and into the season with that expectation. You are here to play well, you want to be successful, but that’s not going to get your team to that point.
That’s your outcome goal – you want to stick with it. You want that as your overlying outlier goal, but as you approach each day, talk about process goals. What you do in the moment, what you need to do to get to that outcome. With each practice, what is your pre-thought? Pre-thought is during which is in competition and the post is the follow up after what happens. The pre, getting back to practices, you have that big outcome expectation. Then the thoughts that coaches and I put in that we instill is that to do that we need to focus on the little things.
If you’re going to get better, if you want to be able to showcase and do well in these tournaments, you have to practice hard. You have to practice together. Your main kind of motivation is that you’re a family.
Whenever you approach tournaments, or approach practice, you’re a family that’s still having to play hard. You want to play hard, you want to share the ball, you want to play together, and you want to play with intensity and show maximum effort. Success and fun is defined by playing as teammates, cheering each other on, playing hard, and not worrying about the outcome.
That goes into my during. When we get into the during moment it’s about playing for us. We don’t worry about the recruiters, we don’t worry about the other team or the other coaches. On Saturday, when we were in Colorado, my kids were warming up for our first game. They looked at the other team and I heard all these whispers. I asked what was going on, and they said, “Well that team has five Under Armor All Americans. They’re studs, look at their helmets, they’re going to kill us, we’re in big trouble here.”
Again, we’re looking at them and I said, “Come on guys, we’ve been through this,” and the response was, “Yeah but they’re good, they look good, they’re big.”
They were intimidated. I had some players who said, “Coach I don’t know if I can start, if I can play. I’m a little injured.” They’ve got these anxieties. That’s a moment where we don’t talk about those outcome expectations.
It’s not, “Hey we need to go out there and win.” Just forget that, just go play hard. The reason why you’re here is to play in this moment. You guys are lacrosse players, you’re athletes, and in this during moment, this prep for the game, you’re here to play hard and give maximum effort, you’re here to play as a family and to have fun.
Play in the Moment without Worrying About the Outcome
We went ahead and played. They started the game as expected. They were tentative and a little bit scared, but they trusted that process; they trusted that belief and they played hard. There was a moment in that game where it all clicked. You could see them. They went from kind of tentative and scared to playing confidently. They were out there playing hard and at the end they thought it was a great game. They didn’t know why they were scared when they were just as good as them. That belief that they put in, they validated it.
They hadn’t played this team before so they were a little tentative, but they found it, they found their moment. The next day we were in our semi-final game and we played the same team. This time, same thing. We were about to get into this moment, think about the process, think about why we were there, what our motivation was, and they went in excited.
The thought process was that they were going to go play them, play them hard, and see what happened. They ended up losing again (maybe even a little worse), but when they came off the field, my team knew they played their butts off. They were pretty darn good and they’re going to go back, practice, work hard, and get ready for that next tournament, taking this as their experience.
Learn from a Loss
To hear that from players says a lot about what we accomplished, about our goals, and about what we want to do.
On the other side of it, I talked about coaches, that pre and during expectations that bleeds into parents as well. The pre expectation on these big travel tournaments is nutrition, sleep, feeding the kids, getting them rested, and making sure they get there on time. Their pre is also getting the kids together while the post is holding them together, making sure they rest, etc.
The during for parents (something that we always harp on as coaches) is that they’re there to cheer. They’re there to be positive, not only to their players, but to be there for the experience.
They should be there to watch and cheer on the great moments. If the other team does something incredible, they should cheer that, too. They are there as people who love sports, love lacrosse, and love watching their kids; so parents, remember to embrace the whole environment of sports and being there.
Follow Up with Your Team
The post, as a coach, is following up. My goal is to make kids leaders. I empower them to be leaders by highlighting things they do well, highlighting what their teammates do well, and even highlighting what the other team did well, something they can learn. To do that, I say, “How do you go out there as athletes to make the other team better? Did you give your best to get their best out of them?”
The post is, “I’m going to do this more next time” or “They really brought this out of me and it blew my mind today that I was able to work that hard.” It’s all about consistency. It’s all about how you approach it; stay level-headed and think about that bigger outcome goal, the process of getting there, the motivation. My team’s motivation is that we’re family – we play hard together and the expectation on the field as well is to play hard.
The Competition Doesn’t Matter
It doesn’t matter who the competitors are, it doesn’t matter that there are college coaches, and it doesn’t matter that they may think someone’s better than them – it’s just about this one thing while you play together as a team. Coaches out there, remember that. Develop your own kind of values with it, stay consistent with it, don’t waiver. Even in those moments where you feel like you have to win, your team has to win, and you’ve got to do whatever it takes, get back to your values and hold on to them.
Have Your Coaching Points
Last thing is post coaching points: outcome goals, creating the process, and pre-development (practice before games, before the season). What is the process to get there, what’s the motivation, what is it that makes your team special? What values do you bring to the team? What can you teach them to really embrace? Again, it’s not the winning piece, it’s family. You’re a family, you’re here to work hard, and that’s what defines fun for you.
Lastly is focusing on the moment. I call it “munchible chunks”. You’ll hear it a lot from me, or “win what’s important now”, how to develop those process goals that keep the athletes focused on the moment and focused on those little tasks that they need to do. This allows them to develop and understand their role in the team as a player, the role and expectations of the team in general, and approach tournaments as something that they can perform at, make mistakes at, and improve at, versus feeling like they have to win, impress, be a hero, and do it all on their own.
There’s Confidence in Numbers
For team sports it’s confidence in numbers, support in numbers, and believing in each other. Whether you’re a bench player, starters, whatever the case may be, consistency is key with everybody, everybody owning their role, and owning their values.
Tune in next time. If you have any questions with what I’ve posted please post it. I’m happy to answer those questions and add more depth to it the next time. I’m off to my next tournament tomorrow. I look forward to hearing from you, to learning more, and even sharing more insights from my team. Take care.