5 great books for working on the personal development of young student athletes

What I like about these books the most is the focus on whole-person development for both coaches and student-athletes.  Great talking points, strategies, and frameworks for getting clarity, focus, and initiative toward being the best person you can be.

the-winners-manual_1    The Winner’s Manual  by Jim Tressel


bilas        Toughness:  Developing True Strength On and Off the Court by Jay Bilas


golden whistle       The Golden Whistle  Going Beyond The Journey to Coaching Success by Jim Burson


joeehrmann        InsideOut Coaching:  How Sports Can Transform Lives by Joe Ehrmann


todd gongwer       Lead for God’s Sake!  A parable for finding the heart of leadership by Todd Gongwer

I would love to hear your recommendations on other books.  Thank you for reading.

The Power of Outside Affirmation, Can We Serve In This Way?

Over the past year, I have found my coaching heavily influenced by Joe Ehrmann‘s book Inside-Out Coaching:  How Sports Can Transform Lives, Todd Gongwer‘s book Leading for God’s Sake:  A Parable For Finding The Heart Of Leadership, and Jay Bilas‘s book Toughness:  Developing True Strength On And Off The Court.  Each of these books challenge the reader to think about WHY they are doing anything.

As coaches, we have to think about having a WHY that transcends wins and losses.  There is not a singular correct WHY, but coaches need to think about the reasons WHY they coach.  Are these reasons for coaching transformational, or transactional (Joe Ehrmann’s work)?  Is your coaching transforming and improving lives in a positive way, or only creating interactions interested in wins and the player doing what he/she is told?

I have recently defined my WHY as:  “To develop positive character through my platform by teaching the fundamentals that will translate to future endeavors”.

As I was watching this video from the Cleveland FCA on Leading For God’s Sake, I started thinking about my WHY and how the so-called “little things” are so crucial to success.  If I can assume the majority of coaches are using their platform to positively develop people, can coaches serve each other by providing outside affirmation to their players?  I think all coaches realize from time to time, our players may begin to “tune us out”.  As coaches, I think most people do not recognize the little things, the dirty work, the tough plays that lead to team success beyond the highlights of the shooter, the pitcher, the home run hitter, the touchdown scorer, the QB sacker.

What power would there be if an opposing coach came up to one of your players as said, “You are the best screener we play against, you do a great job getting your shooters open”.  “You always take the toughest offensive player and battle him for every point”.  “You play unbelievably great help defense, you drawing three charges in that last game changed the momentum to your team”.  “I heard you are in the top three academically of your class, you are the epitome of a student-athlete”.  TALK ABOUT AFFIRMING THE RIGHT THINGS!  This would only help and encourage players to continue to develop and enhance these little-recognized strengths.  We would truly be serving the sport and young people by doing this.  As coaches, we need all players to feel valued in their roles and in their strengths.

In developing these coaching partnerships, I envision the following process:  ask permission of your fellow coach; pull athlete aside in warmups for affirmation; ask fellow coach to do the same.   If we could serve each other as coaches in this way, think about the power of transferring this to everyday life….we are quick to complain, but do we go above and beyond to thank the people that serve us?  This could be the beginning of a whole revolution….professing our gratitude and respect, that’s my dream anyway.  We all know people who already serve others with the compliments, and we all know those people who are quick to complain as well.

There are some questions to this process, and I don’t know if I have the answers.  These include:

-we are competing to win, can we risk building up a player before a game?

-are we affirming the right things?  Should both coaches be present for this affirmation?

Tough choice….am I hurting my team’s chances of winning by boosting another team’s confidence?  Can I trust the other coach to affirm my player, or do I need to be present?   I have witnessed and read stories about this happening already, but usually only the stars receive it.  Again, I believe the guidelines could be laid out and permission given before the warmups begin.

I cannot wait to get back coaching on the sidelines to do this someday, I hope others think about this proposal and consider it.

I would love to hear your thoughts.  Have a great Monday!

How can I be so weak….dealing with the Ryan Revolution?


Recently, Ryan has been going through what we can only hope is the “near-3” stage.  He has cried more in the last couple of months than in his entire life.  He has also become very independent, demanding and stubborn.

I recently read in the great Leigh Montville book Ted Williams:  The Biography of an American Hero a story about friend of Mr. Williams who collaborated to create a sports camp.  This friend’s favorite saying was that “the four most important words in American are I can“.

I love this saying….it inspires me.  When I first read it, I belly laughed because one of Ryan’s pet sayings right now is “I can do it myself”.  He is fiercely independent and wants to do everything himself right or wrong.  I have decided that unless he will physically harm himself, I am going to let him succeed or fail on his own.

One of the funniest (and frustrating) part of this independence is that he will actually re-do or re-create a situation himself so he can say he did it.  One example, we went to the bathroom for another round of potty training (doing very well, thank you…).  He insisted on ripping off his diaper, and when I moved the stool in front of the toilet, he flipped!  He said, “I can do it myself”, proceeded to grab the stool, move it back to its original location, and then put it in exactly the same spot I had.  He did it himself.

The point of this post….is that I get extremely frustrated with myself upon instant or later reflection.  There are times I am so weak…..so soft about my temper flipping on and getting mad at him.  When he doesn’t want to listen or do what I say, when he insists on doing something I KNOW is wrong, it triggers me.  I KNOW I need to take a deep breath and relax, and I KNOW I should be doing this when I am grabbing him or talking strongly to him.  I KNOW I need patience and calm.  I need to be able to explain, and explain, and explain, and explain while staying calm so he can learn.

To improve my reactions, I am listening daily to some of favorite books, Toughness by Jay Bilas (referenced in this previous post), and InsideOut Coaching by Joe Ehrmann.  I want Ryan to learn how to remain calm so he is able to think about a proper solution, I need to model this behavior better when facing adversity.  This is my biggest parenting challenge to date.

I would love to hear from parents what is in your toolkit to help you stay calm.