Anything else that you have set as a goal or resolution to improve
The Stoplight Theory of Improvement
I was introduced to The Stoplight Theory of Improvement by Mike Neighbors, Women’s Basketball Coach at the University of Arkansas. To apply it, pick one or two items in each of the following three areas as your focus.
Redlight: Things I resolve to stop doing. Yellow Light: Things I will keep doing, but might need to “use caution.” Green Light: Things I am committed to start doing consistently.
Only select one, and at most two items for each light color that you will totally commit to until they become habits. Picking more than one or two items will spread your focus too thin and you will end up not improving anything. Stick with the process!
The example bullet points below are for the area of professional coaching development. You should apply these exercises to every aspect of your team that you want to improve.
Red Light Items
This is your “to don’t” list. Things that you only need to make a conscious decision to avoid.
Here are some ideas to get you started on your coaching to don’t list. These are food for thought for eliminating distractions and avoiding unhealthy behaviors that hurt your performance as a coach. Make similar to don't lists for every area of your program that you want to improve.
Won’t check email more than 3 times per day.
Won’t do anything that isn’t job related until your most important to do task is completed for the day.
Won’t put off doing something that is important in favor of something that is urgent.
Won’t be sarcastic.
Won’t blow problems out of proportion.
Won’t take out my frustrations on others.
Won’t let things I can’t control affect the things I can.
Won’t fear failure.
Won’t search for things to be offended by.
Won’t imagine the worst case when I get bad news before I investigate and get the facts and both sides.
Won’t try to make everyone happy.
Won’t over-explain and over-talk in practice and meetings.
Yellow Light Items
I am going to continue doing these, but will proceed with caution. These items are positive when managed and used in moderation. But, if you allow them to take up too much of your day, they become negatives.
Spending time in analysis. All input is great--analytics, observation, the views of other coaches. You can also carry the research too far and past the point of diminishing returns.
Staff discussion. Getting everyone’s input is a positive. Over-analyzing and over-thinking hinder your ability to make a decision and move forward.
Being "brutally honest.” Brutal honesty is not leadership—it borders on cruelty. Genuine honesty is a combination of truth and compassion. Make sure the other person knows your criticism is intended to help. Dean Smith said, “I always mean what I say, but I don’t always say what I’m thinking.”
Focusing on only positive with our team.
Focusing on only negative with our team.
Talking. Yes, you have to communicate clearly, but less talking and more activity for your athletes is how they improve.
Green light Items
These are things that I need to develop as habits.
Spend time in directed and purposeful thought every day.
Confront when it is necessary then let it go and move on.
Show people how much I care rather than how much I know.
Focus on and measure daily improvement.
Spend time every day in purposeful study of my sport, coaching in general, or leadership.
Coach and teaching using images.
Shout praise, but whisper criticism.
Be productive rather than busy.
Use practice to rehearse situations that happen in games.
Teach rather than coach in practice and coach rather than teach away from the field, court, pool, etc.
Use least invasive correction that is needed.
Keep it Simple!
When you are working to improve, if your system is too complicated, it won’t work. Make sue to focus on one or two items for each light color until you have improved to the level you desire. As you improve, then and only then should you add new focus areas.
Disclaimer: Even with this specific system, you won’t improve every day. As a matter of fact, some days you will get worse. You will only realize improvement if you and your athletes are committed to believing in and staying true to the process.
Now get to work and develop a stoplight list for improvement areas for every area of your program that you want to improve. We wish you the best as you begin your journey! We have developed a proven curriculum for your coaching staff that will accelarate improvement in every area of your program. We call it Glazier Academies... Click below to find out more!
One of the best ways to get the best ideas for you to incorporate into all of your efforts to improve every day is to learn from coaches who have proven ways to get better in all areas of your program.
Glazier Academies gives you access to those coaches. Click here to read more about the best soft skills training that is available for every coach of every sport in your school.