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Features & Benefits
There is so much more to coaching than teaching an athlete how to shoot a jump shot, how to pin an opponent, or how to hand-off a baton when running a relay. That's why John Klessinger, with over 20 years of experience as a high school wrestling coach, decided to put together A Coach's Manual- Everything You Need To Be A Successful Coach. Inside, Coach Klessinger leaves no stone unturned addressing everything that coaches must consider when assisting or leading a program. He gives readers important questions to ask themselves as they develop their coaching abilities, plus examples from his own wrestling program that are sure to sound oh-so-familiar to anyone that's spent time as a coach. Whether you're just beginning as a coach or want to refresh your approach after years in charge, this book will give you the blueprint you need to find success with all aspects of your program and profession.
SETTING THE EXAMPLE
"You can't force your will on people. If you want them to act differently, you need to inspire them to change themselves." -Phil Jackson, 9X NBA Championship Coach
As I said earlier, after three years as a head wrestling coach, I was frustrated and felt stuck. Three consecutive losing seasons. Honestly, it was four straight losing seasons as a head coach, including one year in North Carolina right after college.
I contemplated quitting. Coaching was not rewarding for me, and losing didn't help matters.
I did not walk into an established program, and I was naïve that showing up each day teaching wrestling moves was enough to win. I didn't know how to motivate athletes or get the best out of them. I lacked adequate knowledge of developing accountability and discipline. Like many young coaches, I knew a lot about the sport and little about coaching -- a big difference. After that third year, I decided that I was responsible for whether we win or lose. I had to first "set the example" for my team. I had to build our program like a carpenter building a house. We had to start from the ground up. First, create the foundation and then construct the frame of the house. It started with my own enthusiasm and belief in what we were doing. I had to teach them a strong work ethic. I did this by participating in most wrestling and conditioning drills for the next 7-8 years. If I wanted them to work hard, I had to show them how to do it.
Next, I knew we needed to improve our daily attendance, out-of-season lifting and wrestling, and attitude to be successful. I made a decision that has changed my coaching career. I decided to be at every practice, no excuses, and no exceptions. I know now that leadership starts in the front, and I had to model it first for others to buy-in.
I then changed our program's mindset and attitude. Part of that was changing my mindset and attitude. I studied and learned sports performance, personal development, and leadership. Today, I teach my athletes ways to improve their mindset to enhance their performance, starting the first practice.
The building and construction of my program meant that I needed to be a model as a teacher, coach, citizen, father, and husband. It became a priority to live life and be the person I wanted my athletes to be. I had to "set the example" for them. Setting the example is doing all the right things first, then helping those around you do the same. Bear in mind; this wasn't only due to wanting a winning team. I was fed up on both a personal and professional level. Much of our success has been a by-product of me changing my mindset and attitude.
Setting the Example in Action
You already know the action steps I took to develop a winning program. It was a personal choice and no way a requirement to be successful. By doing the things I did, I developed a stronger rapport with my athletes.
Completing workouts with them showed that I was willing to suffer alongside them. It still does, although it is becoming difficult to "keep up" as I get older. I used to drag them and show them they can do more than they think they are capable of. The reverse has become true these days. They drag and encourage me. Deciding to be the model for attendance has come with sacrifice. I have sacrificed time with my family to make sure I can be at every practice and
workout. It is a conscious decision. One that I make each year to teach my athletes commitment and accountability. Again, I cannot expect others to do what I am not willing to do first. If I want them to be at every practice and workout, I have to be the one who demonstrates it first. Not everyone buys into 100% attendance. Coaching a winter sport comes with sick athletes and family events during Thanksgiving and Christmas. It's a battle at times, but our commitment level has improved tremendously over the years and certainly has contributed to our success each season.
What can you do today?
1. What are some ways you can "set the example" for your athletes? Make a list.
2. What are some actions you can take to improve your program?
3. Gandhi said, "be the change you wish to see in others."
How can you be the change for your athletes? What can you teach them by modeling?
4. Refer back to your mission statement. Why is it essential for you to set the example for your team?