As head track and field coach at The Classical Academy High School in Colorado Springs, I’ve led our team to 13 Colorado State Championships: 7 girls’ championships and 6 guys’ championships.
I’m often asked, “What’s the secret?”
I don’t believe there’s a specific secret, but if you want to build a winning culture for your program, you need to avoid these three common mistakes.
You are Not Present
As the head coach, I attend everything we do. If a coach is not a presence in the building, there’s a disconnect. It starts with me and ends with me. When we have practice or a weightlifting session with the strength coach or smaller training sessions, I make a point to be there, or I’ll lose that presence with my team.
You Fail to Build Mental Toughness
Coaches undermine themselves constantly when it comes to their team’s mentality. In other words, they lose the mental war. In Colorado, for example, the weather is not great in the Spring. I combat that by always practicing outside, no matter how miserable it is; we don’t succumb to forces outside of ourselves.
Do not create a “victim of circumstance” mentality. I’ve spent a lot of time shoveling the track because, for us, we are going to win regardless of adversity. I am the start of that. We like the phrase, “Shared suffering is shared reward.” And that shows in our team’s mental toughness.
You Promote a Self-Centered and Numbers-Centered Culture
We de-emphasize individualism and numbers. We make a big deal of our team environment because it gives us motivation, retention, and a reason to run. If a kid’s only motivation is their own success, their passion will hinge on their times and their numbers. Ultimately, they’ll feel empty and will fall short. We make a point to motivate kids with a sense of shared community.We motivate our high school athletes with a sense of shared community. Click To Tweet
We don’t have team goals. We don’t go into a season thinking we’re going to win the state championship; we de-emphasize all of that. When we’re tempted to ask ourselves, “What do we want to do as a team?” we try to instead ask, “What kind of team do we want to be?” Team competition and motivation occur naturally because of the nature of the sport, and we don’t have to talk about times and competition to make that happen.
Want to Become a Better Coach This Year?
Glazier Track and Field Clinics is offering free clinics around the country this Fall and later in the Winter and next Spring. Quality coaches are good learners. Time spent at a clinic can be the best opportunity to build your coaching knowledge, experience camaraderie as a staff, and lay the foundation for next season.
Clinics this Fall:
- Atlanta – 9/16-18
- Dallas – 9/30 – 10/2
- Los Angeles – 9/30 – 10/2
- N. Virginia / D.C. – 9/16-18
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