What’s happened to our program? Just a couple of years ago we were enjoying tremendous success, but look at us now.” Have you ever uttered words like this, if only to yourself? Most coaches certainly wouldn’t shout them to the world because they would believe they could fix it. Admitting fear would be a sign of weakness, but even thinking it while searching for answers and solutions can create doubt. Many times programs aren’t able to sustain success year in and year out. That’s why a gradual decline doesn’t immediately set off any alarms. There can be many reasons for seasons with fewer wins, such as injuries, a talent pool that dries up, other teams becoming more competitive, or being moved to a tougher district or region, to name a few. Those factors are fairly uncontrollable.
What other areas should coaches explore to bring their team back to its former glory? Where do we start? The best point to begin might be in the past, though many would tell you to keep looking forward seeking answers. There were many reasons your past teams were successful. Visiting those times to find solutions can only help. Here’s where reacquainting yourself with the past can be so resourceful:
REWIND--Think back to the day you were hired. You had so much energy, enthusiasm and ideas about building your team. Did you realize your excitement was a tool that helped engage your team? Can you reignite that fire? Was your success immediate?
REVISIT-- Look at practice plans during those successful years. What made them so effective? Is it different now? How?
RECALL--Were there pregame speeches that worked then, but not now? How did you motivate and inspire your team in the beginning? Were your words more meaningful?
REACH OUT--Contact your former players and assistant coaches. Ask their ideas on why they believe your teams were so successful.
RELIVE---What about those team building or hilarious moments with the players. Are you still providing an environment for them to have some fun?
REPLAY--Envision those intense games. The ones you were in to the end. What made that possible? Why were your players so competitive?
REMIND--Practice is where champions are made. Are you working as smart in practice as you did in the early years? Or, are you taking too much for granted?
RECONSIDER--Work with your assistants and evaluate everything you do now in preseason and during the season. Everything must be scrutinized. Are you holding players accountable?
REVISE--Evaluate every practice plan you’ve been using. Can you add to or take away to make it more effective? Is your team game ready?
REFINE--Focus the majority of practice time on game related material. Is practice intense and competitive? Raise expectations and settle for nothing less.
REFLECT--Have you changed your pregame approach? Are you coaching differently from the sideline? Are you challenging yourself as well as the players?
RECHARGE--You’re the one who gives your players energy. They play off every aspect of your demeanor. Do you come to practice and games with passion? Create excitement at every opportunity.
RE-ENERGIZE--Attend clinics, seminars, meet new coaches. Surround yourself with passionate assistants. Find ways to bring back the energy you had on the day you were hired.
REDEDICATE--Make a commitment to become a more effective coach. It all starts with you. That magic may take time to get back. Be persistent.
REAFFIRM--Remember why you started coaching. Keep reminding yourself this is where you should be. Your players are counting on you. Never stop believing in yourself.
Building a fire is the first step to becoming successful. Keeping that fire glowing season after season by visiting the past may be the best way to keep your mojo.
--Adapted from wisersportsleadership.com
A Season In Words by Dan Spainhour