In 40 years of working with coaches, we haven’t met very many who don’t work hard. Most of the ones we know work VERY hard. If you want to give your athlete the best chance for success, you have to develop the self-discipline to work both hard AND SMART!
To be a smart-working coach, you need to develop one habit that most other coaches are probably not practicing. That is to schedule some thinking time where you ask and answer the most important questions for your team every day. It doesn’t have to be a lot—15 minutes will do. But you have to stay disciplined—just like you preach to your athletes.
Coaching Smarter and your 31 Questions (as Promised)
Coaches who work smarter take time to think several times each week, if not every day. Everyone is busy, but everyone has the same amount of time each day. Making Thinking Time a priority helps you to perform your job with more clarity and purpose. You run your job instead of letting it run you.
The coaches who work smart think about what they are working to accomplish. They think about how they are going to accomplish it. And, they think about how they are going to prioritize their busy schedules to work on their most important responsibilities. Finally, they think about whether or not they are getting the results they want and adjust accordingly.
I am not going to give you any answers today. I am going to provide you with 31 questions. You are the best person to come up with the best answers. The only way to get the answers is to spend some time giving thoughtful answers every day.
Important! Make sure you capture your answers in writing or digitally. Your answers are fleeting and will be gone if you don't capture them!
Once you get going and see results from your thinking time practice, you will be able to come up with your own questions as well.
How Can I as a Coach Increase Our Chances of Winning?
"There is no guarantee, no ultimate formula for success. It all comes down to intelligently and relentlessly seeking solutions that will increase your chance of prevailing." Bill Walsh (NFL Hall of Fame and 3x Super Bowl Champion Coach)
The best way to find those solutions that increase your chances is by practicing purposeful, daily thinking time.
The thinking time questions your staff comes up with and then puts a lot of thought into answering will be the ones that make the biggest difference in your program. These questions are food for your thought as you look for ways to give your team a winning edge.
- What can I do to improve the athleticism of each athlete?
- What can I do to improve sport specific skills of each athlete?
- What can I do to improve the sport IQ that each athlete needs for their role/event/position?
Building a process to develop your athletes is one of the over 60 videos contained in Glazier Academies. The videos are geared for both Head Coaches and Assistant Coaches and for every sport and age level. The fast track allow you to choose your own learning path. Click here to reduce parent headaches or your money back!
- Injuries and Health
- What can we do to improve our injury prevention?
- Do we need to cut back on practice time to be fresh for the end of our season?
- How is our conditioning level?
- What can we do to improve the tenacity and grit of each athlete?
- What can we do to improve togetherness and teamwork?
- What can we do to improve the mental toughness of each athlete?
What Can I do to Improve the Athlete Experience?
- How can we structure practice for maximum Improvement for each athlete?
- Do we need to make adjustments to our current systems and game strategies?
What can I do to become a better in game/meet/match coach?
- How can I help each athlete improve as a person?
- What can I do to make our program more enjoyable and fun for everyone involved?
- What can I do to help each athlete be a better student?
- What can I do to help our athletes prepare for the next step after they leave our program? College? Military? World of Work?
How Can I Improve My Performance as a Coach?
- What do I want to be remembered for by the athletes I coached when my career is over?
- Would me as an athlete want to play for me as a coach?
- What is the most important thing for our program right now?
- Am I focusing on the important and not just the urgent?
- How can I connect with each athlete on a more personal level?
- What should I be doing to learn and grow as a leader and a teacher of my sport?
How Can I Improve My Capacity to Work Both Hard and Smart?
If you are not at your best, you will not be able to coach your athletes to be at their best.
- Am I running my job, or is my job running me?
- If my job is running me, what do I need to do to correct that?
- Am I taking time for renewal? (Sleep, Healthy Diet, Exercise, Hydration, Relaxation)
If not, what do I need to do to make time for each of these important areas?
- Am I neglecting any important family and personal relationships and responsibilities?
If yes, what can I do to put these areas right?
- What unhealthy habits to I need to break?
- What healthy habits do I need to acquire?
- What can I do to better manage the stress that comes with my job?
Questions for Head Coaches thinking time
- What does our team need most right now?
- What can I do to develop the assistant coaches, managers, trainers, and statisticians both for their own individual growth and to contribute to the team?
- What can I do to better promote our program within the school and the community?
- What service projects can we take on to give to others?
- How can I promote more positive relationships with parents?
Here are some ways to ensure that you get the most out of your thinking time.
- Continue to add questions to this list that will lead you to ideas for improvement.
- Keep the number of questions on your list managable by deleting the questions that don't fit your needs.
- Always phrase the questions with “How can I (we),” or “What can I (we) do?” Those will trigger you to think about results. Phrasing “Can I (we)” will not stimulate your thinking in the right way.
- Schedule thinking time into your day. Even if it is only for 15 minutes. Things that you schedule on your calendar are much more likely to get done.
- Record your answers in writing or in digital format to be able to review and improve on later.
A final lesson that I have learned over the years of practicing thinking time. Thoughts definitely multiply as you spend time in focused thinking. As you get your mind focused on ways to improve through your thinking time questions, one thought will lead to another similar thought. That thought reaction will continue as long as you sustain your thinking. In the end, your toughest decision will be which of the multiple ideas for improvement to pursue and which ones to discard.
There you have it. A done for you system that will give you an edge by working both harder and smarter than your competition. And, at 15 minutes per day, it is not going to require much investment from you. However, you will find that the investment will be one of the best you will ever make in terms of the improvement you will have in your program.
The challenge is now for you to take action and make thinking time an essential part of your daily schedule.
When you do ask yourself “What should I be doing to learn and grow as a leader and a teacher of my sport?” One super-easy to implement strategy is to get a subscription for your whole staff to Glazier Academies. It will provide you with ways to answer your thinking time questions that you won’t be able to come up with anywhere else. You can find all the details by clicking here.