The 3 Behaviors of Excellent Coaching You Can Use to Nurture Excellent Coaching

It is a very simple fact of growing as a performer in any industry. Find out what successful people have done and do the same things. For example – it is a staple of quality athletic administration to earn the varying levels of certification from the National Interscholastic Athletic Administrator’s Association. Additionally, if you want to be a trusted leader in the field of education, you should consider holding a degree in an educationally relevant field. You are an educational leader that happens to hold the position of athletic administrator.

I remember reading these types of statements from Dr. David Hoch, who in my opinion is the patriarch of modern athletic administration. He wasn’t wrong. I did not regret any of the time I spent in these professional pursuits of excellence as an athletic administrator.

But, the path to coaching excellence can seem far more ambiguous. There can be so many ways to define excellence in coaching. Or is there? I came across the three P’s of excellent coaching in my research and created a framework of what was expected of my coaches. This framework provided much needed clarity in the ambiguous world of coaching.

These three domains are not magical though they are backed by research. What is magical is clarifying the three to five domains that you want your coaches to focus. Once you clarify them, you must
a) talk about them all the time
b) evaluate your coaches according to them.

So, here they are. The 3 Ps of excellent coaching in a high school setting.

Obsessive PREPARATION – I have yet to lead a high performing coach in an athletic department that was uniquely prepared. Schedules were early. Gear was purchased on time. Opponents were scouted. Practices were planned. Seasons were debriefed so that preparation for the next season was even more thorough. Obsessive preparation seems to be demonstrated most completely through this simple statement: ‘Think further down the road than most, and communicate to more people today than most.’

POSITIVE RESPONSES to negative circumstances – Athletic season’s are hard. The losses sting bad. Every single team in your conference will end their season on a loss except for one. The negative circumstances of a season are not rare. The coach who responds to all this with positive energy for their team is rare. How else will student-athletes learn to respond positively to negative scenarios than from a coach who models it? I am not talking about an oblivious, uncompetitive, rainbows & unicorns approach. I am talking about the willful control of emotions that allows a coach to say to their team, ‘this is very hard’ and ‘we can do this’ in the same breath. What you do at rock bottom determines if you get to stand on the mountain and you won’t get to the top of the mountain throwing a tantrum at rock bottom. Ensure your coaches model this.

PARENT communication – If there is one consistent flat tire I have seen in high school coaches, it is this one. The best coaches I have led were also the best parent communicators. They sent the weekly email, set up and used the group messaging, approached parents and shook hands, and drew them in to volunteer. As educational leaders are held to the legal standard of ‘en loco parentis’ – in place of the parent when their children are with us. How can a coach be considered in place of the parent during practice and games if they never communicate with the parents? My father, a long time varsity basketball coach, would go up into the bleachers and spend time with the parents of his players during warm ups. You know what my father rarely had? Problems with parents. I would be willing to bet that parent problems inside of your department would drop drastically if communication from coaches increased.

Dr. Chris Hobbs
Twitter: @Dr_ChrisHobbs

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