The reflection dril...
 
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The reflection drill.


Prodigy
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I was recently promoted to interim manager at work.  I spent some time thinking about team building and some of the things I did as a football coach and administrator.  I really did my best to model the youth program after Coach Potter's blueprint.  I genuinely did my best to emulate him and his approach as best as I could...but I also did some of my own stuff.

Here's a "drill" that I never really thought of as a drill until recently. 

The first practice following a game, win, lose or draw we would take our helmets off and sit down on the practice field.  My final year as a coach, the team decided to not take a knee, not sit down or do any of that stuff.  If we were taking a water break, we did it standing.  It was their idea and it reminded me of George Foreman's approach between rounds.  Our post-game meeting happened after film was reviewed and graded, it was a chance for us to reflect.

What did we do well as individuals?  As units?  As a team?
What can we do better as individuals, as units, as a team?

This (hopefully) open conversation among all members of the team to include the coaching staff, was borne out of my first year as a head coach.  My first year, we were alright but we made a lot of mistakes.  We were winning games so I wasn't paying much attention to things we weren't doing right.  I figured, hey, the ultimate metric is who wins the game...and as that season progressed, we began losing close games because we weren't improving.  From there, I made it a point to always seek improvement.

This sounds like a really straightforward and stupid sort of "drill" or "exercise" but I came to a different realization a few days back as I was thinking about this.  As coaches or managers or leaders, we want the best out of the members of the team in pursuit of achievement of the mission statement (whatever that may be).  We will never come close to excelling without identifying deficiencies and improving.  On Friday I actually had to take a class on "Respect in the Workplace" and it occurred to me that people are oftentimes concerned about offending or being offended when it comes to criticizing one another.  Yet, when I was coaching ball and we ran this "Reflection Drill" there was never any concern about offending one another.  Why?

We worked to develop an environment where the team was #1.  If the QB made a mistake, he could own it himself or he could get called out by another player.  This builds accountability and self correction into the coaching plan.  If our defensive end told the QB his cadence was inconsistent, he was telling him to improve the team and to improve the QB, NOT to be spiteful, NOT to be negative or malicious.  When we, as coaches, develop an environment where we can speak candidly about weaknesses without it ever being a personal attack...well, we are well on our way to being a team that gives others nightmares.

I hope this is useful to some coaches out there.  Also, in the event I wasn't clear enough...during this drill the coaches are just as much a part of the critiques as the players.  I've had to own mistakes I've made and I know that I made them.  Admitting to these mistakes, I feel, builds trust.

If you show up for a fair fight, you are unprepared.


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CoachDP
(@coachdp)
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Posted by: @prodigy

We worked to develop an environment where the team was #1.  If the QB made a mistake, he could own it himself or he could get called out by another player.  This builds accountability and self correction into the coaching plan.  If our defensive end told the QB his cadence was inconsistent, he was telling him to improve the team and to improve the QB, NOT to be spiteful, NOT to be negative or malicious.  When we, as coaches, develop an environment where we can speak candidly about weaknesses without it ever being a personal attack...well, we are well on our way to being a team that gives others nightmares.

Excellent points, Ken.  

And here's where most coaches (bosses, leaders, etc.) fail...it's because they can't demand improvement or accountability without the message being delivered in an insulting, demeaning, angry or incorrect way.  Then many follow up with telling their players to listen to the message, not how the message is delivered, which is a completely irresponsible approach.  The MESSAGE is both: WHAT the information is and HOW the information is delivered.  To be a responsible coach, you have to know how to deliver both.  Practically ANY coach can deliver a message.  Those coaches are rare who can deliver a message so that it's received in a way to motivate the player to learn.  Most coaches divulge themselves of the responsibility of delivering the message in a productive way because they either don't know how, or don't care to learn.  And much of their message is reactive, not proactive. Most coaches excuse themselves of this behavior by saying, "This is football.  I'm just trying to get them fired up."  Actually, they're just angry, frustrated or scared.  In a nutshell, this is why so many coaches struggle to motivate their kids to listen, learn and perform.

--Dave

"The Greater the Teacher, the More Powerful the Player."

The Mission Statement: "I want to show any young man that he is far tougher than he thinks, that he can accomplish more than what he dreamed and that his work ethic will take him wherever he wants to go."

#BattleReady newhope


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Prodigy
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@coachdp in my earlier years of coaching, I definitely approached things differently.  There were a few times when I had to address players and I did, with emotion that ended up being detrimental.  It's unfortunate but I suppose it's something I had to make the mistake doing in order to step back and realize there are better ways.

In later years even when I was disciplining players and making a huge racket about it, it was 100% an act.  I've mentioned before that your voice is a tool.  If you're always screaming at level 10 then it doesn't mean as much when you have something really important to get across and you're screaming at level 10...it's just normal, unimportant.  If you normally speak at a level 3 and then rise up to a level 10 because...say you received a report that a couple of players were spitting at their opponents, well you're likely to be taken more seriously.  In any case, the latter event I made a big show of yet, I felt no anger towards the players.

If you show up for a fair fight, you are unprepared.


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