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How to Find Inspiration as a First-Time Coach
Every coach has to start somewhere. Mike Leach coached American football in Finland before revolutionizing college football offenses at Texas Tech and other schools. Where did he find inspiration? Leach credited LaVell Edwards and his BYU coaching staff for inspiring his coaching philosophy.
Inspiration can come from anywhere. Coaches use it as motivation to get out of bed and find ways to improve their team. Here’s what coaches can do to inspire themselves and sources where they can find inspiration.
How Can First-time Coaches Find Inspiration?
Inspiration is an incredible asset to have, and it’s helpful to find it within yourself. You can also discover motivation in your colleagues and create a conducive, motivational environment. Here are ways to find inspiration for your team.
Ask Yourself Why
The first step in finding inspiration is to ask yourself why. Why are you choosing to be a coach? Is it for the players? Do you love the game so much that you want to share your passion with others? Identify the roots of your love and unpack why you’ve entered coaching.
If you find 20 coaches, you may get 20 answers for what inspires them. Some will say diverse and young perspectives bring freshness to the games they love. Every generation of leaders brings new ideas that significantly influence a sport. Why is basketball so fast-paced today? Many credit Mike D’Antoni and his seven seconds or less philosophy.
Foster a Motivational Environment
You only feel as motivated as those around you. These people include your assistants, whether parent volunteers or paid coaches, the players and your facilities. You’re the leader, so it’s up to you to spearhead an inspirational environment for everybody — especially yourself.
Creating a motivational environment requires effort from you daily. Show up with a positive attitude and be ready to work no matter what’s happening in the outside world. Your kids look to you as a leader, so help them grow and grow with them. You won’t be perfect, but learning from setbacks and losses is essential to inspire others and yourself.
Set SMART Goals
Humans thrive on having direction. They’re inspired by improving themselves and those around them. How can you motivate yourself and your team to get better? One strategy is to set specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and timely (SMART) goals. These ambitions promote actions to create positive outcomes in sports and any facet of life.
Try setting a SMART goal for your team. For example, a basketball coach could focus their team on reducing turnovers. The SMART goal is to get three more blocks per game. How are you going to get there? You’ll instruct your players to do power lunges and dumbbell jump squats during practice. These exercises improve jumping ability, thus increasing the chances of blocks.
Celebrate the Wins
Your players will see wins and losses. They can’t all be like the 1972 Miami Dolphins. The 1996 Chicago Bulls lost 13 games en route to their championship. Taking a loss is tough and can be discouraging. How can you find inspiration during tough times? Celebrate the wins even more.
Adding another win to your tally is fantastic, but it doesn’t have to stop there. Find inspiration every time your team achieves the little victories. For example, your softball team increased its hitting percentage and reduced the number of errors. Those stats might not directly translate into wins, but they inspire and give your kids hope for future games.
Where Can You Find External Inspiration?
Strengthening your team isn’t always easy. Sometimes, you need outside sources to motivate you to succeed. Here are a few ways you can find external inspiration for the team.
An excellent way to find inspiration is to look at successful coaches and the wise words they have said over the years. For example, legendary NBA coach Gregg Popovich said, “The measure of who we are is how we react to something that doesn’t go our way.” Popovich has won five NBA championships, so his credibility is sky-high in the league.
You should also look to coaches to see how they grow. Julie Stackhouse, CEO of Stackhouse Fitness and former NCAA track and field coach, says the best advice she ever received was to learn from athletes as much as you teach them. Let your leaders shine and listen to what they have to say.
Books by Hall-of-Famers
Literature has produced inspiring works for authors worldwide for centuries. Books are a terrific way to get inspiration from successful coaches — especially those you cannot access personally. Many sports leaders have written memoirs to inspire and help other coaches succeed.
For example, basketball coaches like to read “Wooden: A Lifetime of Observations and Reflections On and Off the Court” by John Wooden, the legendary UCLA basketball coach. In the book, Wooden says to develop a love for details and raise the bar daily to get close to perfection.
Leaders in Your Life
Inspiration can come from anywhere. It doesn’t have to be from the sports world. Yours could derive from a teacher, neighbor, religious leader or other influential figures in your life. Coaching isn’t always about the schemes and the playbooks — it’s about influencing young people to be the best versions of themselves while achieving peak athletic performance.
Numerous prolific coaches have used outside inspiration for their methods. For example, the great Pat Summitt said she found inspiration from her father because of his strong work ethic. Bill Belichick of the New England Patriots says his inspiration comes from military strategists who display discipline, leadership and adaptability.
SportsEdTV is one of the best resources online if you want to learn from other coaches. The website features coaches sharing advice with leaders across numerous sports. You could be a first-year coach or a 25-year veteran. Regardless, you’ll find the help you seek in nutrition, injuries, performance and more.
Are you a basketball coach? You’ll find expertise from top-of-the-industry basketball hall-of-famers like Alex English, Tim Hardaway and other legends of the sport who contribute to SportsEdTV. The organization aims to help athletes, coaches, and parents succeed and become their own champions.
Finding Inspiration in Coaching
Coaching is among the most rewarding professions. You base your livelihood on improving people’s lives on and off the court. First-timers will find it helpful to find inspiration and determine why they’ve entered the profession.
Fortunately, modern coaches have numerous resources to find inspiration and improve their coaching. Look to leaders in the industry and what they say. Use the coaches at SportsEdTV, read books, learn from military strategists or talk to leaders in your life. Find whatever works for you.