This post was written by John Carrier and originally posted on his Coaching Basketball Blog
Notes from Minnesota State High School League’s “Why We Play” conference at Bethel University.
“Why We Play” is a program that promotes positive coaching and teaching character through athletics. The structure was two whole group sessions with a main speaker, two breakout sessions, and everyone back together for one final session. Below are some of the best ideas that I pulled out from each presentation.
Coach Olson is currently working with the Pittsburgh Pirates developing their coaches. He also works with the Navy Seals and has authored two books on coaching. Coach Olson gave two talks. One was the opening talk on “7 Marks of a Mature Coach” and then gave a talk on what he’d learned during his time with the Navy Seals. Some of the finer points of his talk are below. I am going to buy both of Coach Olson’s books and would recommend looking at his material – it’s really good!
Kids now grow up in a different “SCENE”
- Speed: Slow is bad to kids
- Convenient: Hard is bad to kids
- Entertained: Boring is bad to kids
- Nurturing: Risk is bad to kids
- Entitlement: Work is bad
- So the question for coaches is, based on this “SCENE” how are we going to deal with our kids and teach them that slow, hard work, that is boring and risky is actually a GOOD THING?
- Give your players a mental and physical test that takes some critical thinking. This will tell you everything you need to know about the make up of your team. The task should include everyone on the team as one group.
- The SEALs give their trainees a length of rope and tell them they must use to get everyone over the wall.
- Give them 10 minutes to plan and 5 minutes to execute.
- As they try to complete the task just WATCH who is doing what.
- Who’s leading and taking initiative?
- Who says something isn’t working?
- Who follows.
- Who doesn’t care. This might be the biggest one. If you’ve got these guys they will hurt your team.
- This is an exercise to help you get a much deeper understanding of your players motivation.
- The gist of the exercise is to ask them why they play basketball, and then follow that up with 3 more “why” questions about their answer.
Q: Why do you play basketball? A: Because it’s fun.
Q: Why is it fun? A: Because I’m with my friends.
Q: Why do your friends make it fun? Because they make me feel good.
Q: Why do they make you feel good? Because they pump me up when I do things correctly.
- As you can see from the example, you get to the real root of why players are playing. Understanding why they play is essential to motivating your athletes.
- Coach Olson shared a story about a football player they had. Dad played in the NFL, brother was a D1 player. The player started out well but they were motivating him by telling him this was going to lead to college, pros, etc and it didn’t work. They then found out that he loved basketball and he played football because of his friends. So they started to motivate him using his friends and peer relationships – which worked a lot better.
My first breakout session was with Coach Rowe. Coach Rowe is the head football coach at ROCORI High School in Cold Spring, MN. Coach Rowe’s breakout talk was on how their program develops the whole person. Some of my favorite parts of his talk are below.
- Take 30 min out of practice each Monday for character development.
- Intro the theme for the week.
- Give a short presentation on the topic.
- Breakout session in family groups. 8 groups for the program. Group has freshmen through seniors – stay with group all 4 years.
- Each group has an activity around the theme of the week.
- Reference the theme during the week.
Team Building Competitions
- They have different competitions and you get points for each competition.
- They do the team building competitions in their family groups.
Coach Bartlett is the head football coach at White Bear Lake. He spoke on Building Men for Others in White Bear Lake Football. He uses a lot of the ideas from the book Inside Out Coaching by Joe Ehrmann. Below are some of the things he does in his program to teach character to the players he leads.
- Have a Word of the Week
- Assistants pick the word (to be involved).
- The word has to do with some facet of character development.
- The coach introduces the word and talks about what the word means to the team. They then relate the word to real life – especially with a story or example.
- The players select a teacher from the school that embodies the word of the week.
- That teacher comes to the game, is on the field for the coin toss, and addresses the team in pre game.
- Reading Program. Has the football players volunteer to read with elementary kids.
- In order to get the “bear paw” decal on their helmet, players must do community service. The amount is based on their grade. It must be completed before they get the decal.
Seniors – 12 hours
Juniors – 10 hours
Sophomores – 8 hours
Freshmen – 0 hours – they are new to the program and might not know.
Tom Cody and Jody Redman
Mr. Cody and Ms. Redman did a great presentation from “Top 20 Training”. They covered a number of “mentality” issues that are helpful for both players and coaches. The best thing I got was their idea of people having “frames”.
Each person looks at the world through a different “picture frame” that influences how they see the world. The frame has see which influences feel which influences do which influences get which influences see. So what we see effects our feelings, our feelings effect what we do, what we do dictates what what get. The results (get) effect our feelings on a topic. The most important thing we can do if something isn’t going well is change the “see” part.
Easiest to change – how we see things. Gives the best, and longest lasting results. “If you can’t get out of it, get into it” So ask yourself how you can change your player’s “see” on something they are struggling with. Also ask yourself: how can YOU change your “see” on team/program issues that are driving you nuts?