A message for all coaches & players.
"Behind every fearless player is a fearless coach who refused to let them be anything but the best they can be"
NOTE: Please share & comment. I'm interested to hear other coaches & players thoughts and opinions around this.
I came across this quote a few weeks ago and it had a big effect on me when I was reading it. I have read the quote before (many times in fact), but it affected me more reading it this time around for some reason. Why you ask well, on the theme of motivation (We are still on the ‘new year’ bandwagon… one this note does anyone know how long you can keep telling people to have a good new year? Is there a time limit let’s say January 10th?) there is so much going on (in my coaching world) in the coaching world, building up programs, working with different types of people, traveling around I get asked a lot how do I stay motivated, how do I not burn out, how do I fit it all in?
How does the motivator (the coach) stay motivated?
Something that people who do not coach may not recognize or understand is that fact that for every hour on the field there is about 4/5 hours off the field that the coach puts into their work to make the on field be as effective as possible.
Let’s do the maths briefly. Take a standard amateur club that trains twice a week and plays 1 game on a Saturday.
Training – Tuesday, Thursday – 2 hours each
Game – Saturday (15s game – 80 minutes & Warm up / Cool Down)
Total Rugby on field = Just under 6 hours (depending on warm up time)
So, the ratio between on field and off field let’s say is 1:4. That’s a total of 24 hours of 'off field' work.
You maybe thinking well what is there to do that takes 4 hours. (That's another conversation)
SO.... Total hours during the week devoted to Rugby – 30 hours per week.
Doesn’t seem to bad… However, notice I said amateur. So that means that this coach probably (certainly) has a full-time job (typically 40 hours). Here then there is 70 hour's in the week gone before you factor in family times, social life, relationships, exercise etc.
According to Edison Research more than half the USA population is awake by 7am. And depending on the state between 10:30pm & midnight. So lets call that 11pm to make the number easy.
The average person is awake for 16 hours a day.
Daily Break down
Work / Job: 8 hours
Rugby: 4 hours
Family / Social / Relationships, Exercise: 4 hours
Granted the coach makes the decision to choose this life but it’s not an easy one if its done properly (At the amateur level).
Now imagine this at the professional level where coaching is your full-time role / job. WOW amazing what a job that would be!
This image is an example of what a full-time time table of a professional set up may look like for a week.
WOW and that’s just for the players.
Now imagine the head coach. What do they then have to go though remember that 1:4 ratio. They have a squad of ball park 35 players which includes
Social well being
Money & livelihood
And probably much more that I don't wan't to get into just now... HOWEVER this is before we even get onto the rugby!
The head coach also has the task of managing all this:
The list goes on and on… Then the coach also has to coach his team of staff, if they are not working well together then how do they expect the staff to help the players get better.
This then brings us on to the drama of Collins (1999) with the ‘US & Them Divide’. Which is a whole other subject area and conversation.
The Coaches then must deal with the media, reports to club executives, players contacts, facilities, resources for training, supporters & fans and above all that the pressure of the modern game around win / loss.
Each one of these areas listed is again another subject area and conversation which there is no right answer. What may work for one coach may not work for another. How then is a coach meant to balance all this and then produce results.
The true nature of the fact is that (one old mentors told me) coaching is ‘80% feet off grass’. Its human to human connection and there is never going to be a coach who pleases everyone all the time. How can they. They would go insane.
There is also another factor of coaching which is coaching is a thankless job. Its almost expected now that (good) coaches serve players (as it should be). The modern player often are expecting things to HAPPEN, and player have almost forgot that they need to have the SAME mindset & ratio of work off the field of 1:4. (Granted this isn't all players at all, there are some players out there who put an crazy amount of work in. E.g. Johnny May, England says he stretches for 4 hours a day!)
The player has the great luxury of the coach to be the one (if they are an effective coach) to motivate them to reach a goal / target. Most coaches will always put the benefit of the players 1st over themselves they will do anything to see that player, athlete or team succeed. Some coaches may do and show this in different way’s, but most coaches will not coach if they didn’t like to help someone achieve their goals or fulfill their potential.
This maybe why the coach really appreciates a coachable player. The player that puts in the work, the effort, the energy and they take their coach and use them as a resource rather than a foundation. They take responsibility for their own destiny.
I know a coach (who coaches netball) who told me once that she only coaches a team for three years before she moves on. She does this because she needs & wants her players to move on and find something new, learn from someone else as she believes this will help the players growth & development.
However, if you think about from another vantage point. How well can you get to know someone in three years. People meet for the 1st time and can be married with children in a three-year window. If you are as coach (amateur) spending 30 hours a week with the same team you can really get to know your players, what they want / need, how to speak to them how to motivate them, how they learn, what makes them fired up what makes them upset … the list goes on.
For a coach this might get potentially get stale. Moving on after 3 years, finding a new team, a new environment, a new culture, a new boss, new staff, new sport even can allow the coach to then grow and develop themselves.
You may have heard that the best teachers make the best coaches, the best coaches are ALWAYS (an they will be the 1st to say this) LIFE LONG LEARNERS.
This learning then, moving on, trying new experiences, coaching new players etc might then be a selfish act (I mean this in the nicest way possible). If the coach gets a feel-good factor from learning, from challenges even from winning and loosing etc then coaching then can become addictive.
What then if you don’t have this change. If you stay with the same team, same payers, same environment, same organisation for a long period of time. When does the coach get a chance to really learn?
They will learn though experiences at a slow rate compared to the coach that moves after three years, they are more likely to learn faster though experiences.
What about then formal learning rather learning though being a practitioner. If we take the original figures at the start of me rambling on about this.
Daily Break down
Work / Job: 8 hours
Rugby: 4 hours
Family / Social / Relationships: 4 hours
Coaches then only have 4 or less hours to do some formal learning themselves. But that’s not with out further sacrifice.
Anyway coming to close of this what was my original point. LET ME ASK YOU A QUESTION.... again!
QUESTION: Who motivates the motivator?
ANSWER: It’s in the original quote: Behind every fearless player is a fearless coach who refused to let them be anything but the best they can be.
1. Those players who walk though the door when its been opened for them motivates the coach to keep doing what they are doing, and to do it for others.
2. Those players who might not be able to walk though the door but will do everything they can do to fight their way though it, they will fight with you to get you though the door.
What then demotivates the coach?
Those players who have the door opened for them or are ungrateful and then don’t walk though the door are the players who the coaches lose motivation for what it is they do.
Read this case study used by Johnston (1994) this helps explain my point a bit better:
Lord Moran, a British Army Officer, suggests that the battlefield environment wears down an individual's capacity to act effectively. Moran uses a bank account metaphor. Before entering combat every person has a certain amount of will in his "bank account." The individual makes periodic "withdrawals" from his account to sustain himself in combat. Moran believes that anger, boredom, individual character, casualties, displays of courage, fatigue, fear, and stress are some of the factors that require an individual to make a withdrawal. Each of these emotional responses and the degree to which they are displayed tie to the battlefield environment. Eventually, if the individual remains in combat long enough, he will diminish his account to a zero balance. Upon achieving a zero balance, the individual is no longer effective. Moran also suggests that an individual can have his account replenished.
A message then for players is then even you don’t want to have the door opened for you take up and appreciate every aspect of the coaching even if at times you don’t agree with what is being said or done. Most of coaches want you to succeed in what ever it is you are being coached for.
Don’t think of this as something personal between you and the coach but rather think of it from the coach’s bank account. Try and replenish it, the coaches job is not an easy one even a small ‘thank you’ goes a long way.
And hey if you don’t want to do that then do it for the players & athletes that coach may encounter in the future... impact their future
Positivity & gratitude goes a long way and can affect people more than you know.
Coaches – remember your job & role is often thankless, you have to sacrifice more than people know, you have to work harder than most people think you do, you will take the blame for upsetting people, you will get fingers pointed at when thigs go wrong, you will may find you don’t get credit for your work but remember why you started coaching in the 1st place. For the love of the game, to help people and see them succeed. If you feel you bank account is emptying find ways to fill it back up, move teams, change sports, do some learning, but the last thing is to stop ding what your doing.
The world needs coaching, the world needs you!