Friday, July 31, 2015

Notes from the Why We Play Conference

This Tuesday I attended the Minnesota State High School League's "Why We Play" conference at Bethel University. "Why We Play" (@MSHSL_Coaches) is a program that promotes positive coaching and teaching character through athletics. The structure was two whole group sessions with a main speaker, two breakout sessions, and everyone back together for one final session. Below are some of the best ideas that I pulled out from each presentation.

Rod Olson (@CoachOTip)
Coach Olson is currently working with the Pittsburg Pirates developing their coaches. He also works with the Navy Seals and has authored two books on coaching. Coach Olson gave two talks. One was the opening talk on "7 Marks of a Mature Coach" and then gave a talk on what he'd learned during his time with the Navy Seals. Some of the finer points of his talk are below. I am going to buy both of Coach Olson's books and would recommend looking at his material - it's really good!

  • Truth vs. Tradition
    • Coaches stick too much to tradition because they are lazy, scared, or love conformity. 
    • We need to get outside the box more. 
  • Kids now grow up in a different "SCENE"
    • Speed
      • Slow is bad to kids
    • Convenient
      • Hard is bad to kids
    • Entertained
      • Boring is bad to kids
    • Nurturing
      • Risk is bad to kids
    • Entitlement
      • Work is bad
    • So the question for coaches is, based on this "SCENE" how are we going to deal with our kids and teach them that slow, hard work, that is boring and risky is actually a GOOD THING?
  • Quantico Test
    • Give your players a mental and physical test that takes some critical thinking. This will tell you everything you need to know about the make up of your team. The task should include everyone on the team as one group.
      • The SEALs give their trainees a length of rope and tell them they must use to get everyone over the wall. 
    • Give them 10 minutes to plan and 5 minutes to execute. 
    • As they try to complete the task just WATCH who is doing what. 
      • Who's leading and taking initiative? 
      • Who says something isn't working? 
      • Who follows. 
      • Who doesn't care. 
        • This might be the biggest one. If you've got these guys they will hurt your team. 
  • 4 Why Game
    • This is an exercise to help you get a much deeper understanding of your players motivation. 
    • The gist of the exercise is to ask them why they play basketball, and then follow that up with 3 more "why" questions about their answer. 
    • For Example:
      • Q: Why do you play basketball? A: Because it's fun. 
      • Q: Why is it fun? A: Because I'm with my friends. 
      • Q: Why do your friends make it fun? Because they make me feel good. 
      • Q: Why do they make you feel good? Because they pump me up when I do things correctly. 
    • As you can see from the example, you get to the real root of why players are playing. Understanding why they play is essential to motivating your athletes. 
    • Coach Olson shared a story about a football player they had. Dad played in the NFL, brother was a D1 player. The player started out well but they were motivating him by telling him this was going to lead to college, pros, etc and it didn't work. They then found out that he loved basketball and he played football because of his friends. So they started to motivate him using his friends and peer relationships - which worked a lot better. 

My first breakout session was with Coach Rowe. Coach Rowe is the head football coach at ROCORI High School in Cold Spring, MN. Coach Rowe's breakout talk was on how their program develops the whole person. Some of my favorite parts of his talk are below. 
  • Monday Meetings
    • Take 30 min out of practice each Monday for character development. 
    • Intro the theme for the week. 
    • Give a short presentation on the topic. 
    • Breakout session in family groups. 
      • 8 groups for the program. 
      • Group has freshmen through seniors - stay with group all 4 years. 
      • Each group has an activity around the theme of the week.
    • Reference the theme during the week. 
    • His character development program is available for purchase here 
  • Team Building Competitions
    • They play ultimate football every Monday instead of conditioning. 
    • Also have different competitions and you get points for each competition. 
    • They do the team building competitions in their family groups. 
  • Mom's Clinic
    • Do a football clinic for the mom's. 
    • Teach them about football, safety, etc. 
    • Each player writes their mom a letter and tapes it to their locker. The moms then go into the locker room, find their son's locker, and get their letter. 
    • You could do this in basketball with parents to explain your system and why you do it. 
Coach Bartlett is the head football coach at White Bear Lake. He spoke on Building Men for Others in White Bear Lake Football. He uses a lot of the ideas from the book Inside Out Coaching by Joe Ehrmann. Below are some of the things he does in his program to teach character to the players he leads. 
  • Teach the 3 Falsehoods of Masculinity
    1. Athletic Ability
    2. Sexual Conquest
    3. Economic Success
    • They discuss these as a team, coaches/players model it, and the coaches address it throughout the season.
  • They read an excerpt from the book "Season of Life" at their parent meetings.
  • Have a Word of the Week
    • Assistants pick the word (to be involved). 
    • The word has to do with some facet of character development. 
    • The coach introduces the word and talks about what the word means to the team. They then relate the word to real life - especially with a story or example. 
  • Teacher Captain
    • The players select a teacher from the school that embodies the word of the week. 
    • That teacher comes to the game, is on the field for the coin toss, and addresses the team in pre game. 
    • Honor for the teacher. 
  • Reading Program
    • Has the football players volunteer to read with elementary kids. 
  • Community Service
    • In order to get the "bear paw" decal on their helmet, players must do community service. The amount is based on their grade. It must be completed before they get the decal. 
      • Seniors - 12 hours
      • Juniors - 10 hours
      • Sophomores - 8 hours
      • Freshmen - 0 hours - they are new to the program and might not know. 
Mr. Cody and Ms. Redman did a great presentation from "Top 20 Training". They covered a number of "mentality" issues that are helpful for both players and coaches. The best thing I got was their idea of people having "frames". 
  • Each person looks at the world through a different "picture frame" that influences how they see the world. 
  • The frame has see which influences feel which influences do which influences get which influences see. 
    • So what we see effects our feelings, our feelings effect what we do, what we do dictates what what get. The results (get) effect our feelings on a topic. 
  • The most important thing we can do if something isn't going well is change the "see" part. 
    • Easiest to change - how we see things. 
    • Gives the best, and longest lasting results. 
    • "If you can't get out of it, get into it"
    • So ask yourself how you can change your player's "see" on something they are struggling with. 
    • Also ask yourself: how can YOU change your "see" on team/program issues that are driving you nuts? 

I would encourage any Minnesota coach, or out of state coach within driving distance, to attend this clinic. It might be the best/most important clinic that I've ever been a part of!  We all know that working with athletes and teaching more than basketball are the most important part of our jobs - and this is one of the few clinics that address this part. It was well worth my time and I'll be going back next year!

1 comment:

Mark Clarence Arcangel said...

Learned a lot here! Thanks Coach!