As we said along the month of December, Managing The Performance Environment, as defined by the US Soccer Federation (Influence off-the-field circumstances and persons in order to create the best possible conditions for the development and performance of the players) is one of the most important tasks of coaching.
However, it is also a very broad topic and if there is one thing that we noticed along this educational campaign (or at least we are under that impression), is that it relates a lot to personal priorities in our coaching. As we connected with coaches and experts, we realized how the topic immediately related to something they considered very important in their coaching. That’s why one of the most fascinating aspects of this month’s campaign was the diversity of subjects. In some cases, it led to Parent Engagement, in others to the construction of Participant Centered Environments, in others to Team Culture, etc.
As we tried to compile the best of the month below, we realized how we couldn’t really list them as part of a one and only subject and under a unique title, but as multiple.
All of them, at the end, add up to creating and managing this performance environment.
Richard Shorter – Parent Engagement
Chris P., Rush Soccer’s Developmental Director, interviewed our guest Richard Shorter of Non-Perfect Dad & author of ‘Questions For The Car Ride Home’. Richard shared with us his journey and his insights on how we can unite all stakeholders in youth sports.
2. Create an environment in which your players feel safe about getting out of their comfort zone: This was one of Richard’s most beautiful concepts. “If we are going to get genuine unity, we need to create a safe space where everybody feels like we have an identity, and in which we are willing to explore the new together.” – Richard Shorter.
John O’Sullivan: Your Environment Has To Connect With Your ‘Why’
In this opportunity, Chris P. and a panel of Rush Soccer Directors, Mentors, and Mentees were joined by John O’Sullivan -an internationally known speaker for coaches, parents and youth sports organizations- to analyze fragments of his book Every Moment Matters and discuss the topic of Managing the Performance Environment.
2. Focus on the Learning Rather Than The Performance: Juan Gonzalez Mendia briefly commented on a thought he has about the importance of games and results when he said “To me, Saturday’s match is part of the process, it matters but not necessarily more than other instances, it’s just another component”. What’s important about that sentence is that it invites us to look at the bigger picture. John O’ Sullivan highlighted this, remarking the difference between Learning and Performance: “You cannot recognize learning in the moment. This is performance. Learning is being able to retrieve the information and skill over time. Learning happens over time. Many parents (and coaches) confuse performance for learning.”
Juan Gonzalez Mendia – Developing Participant Centered Environments:
Coach & Player Development Director Pablo Toledo and our guest Juan González Mendia -from Sudamérica Coaching- discussed Performance and Athlete Centered Environments on an enriching new episode of our Webinar Series.
“The child or adult hears ‘oh, you think I’m brilliant and talented. That’s why you admire me – that’s why you value me. I better not do anything that will disprove this evaluation’. As a result, they enter a fixed mindset, they play it safe in the future and they limit the growth of their talent. Whereas focusing on the strategies they use, the way they are stretching themselves and taking on hard tasks, the intense practice they are doing, those are the kinds of things that say to a child or an older athlete: it’s about the process of growth. As a result, they don’t feel ‘oh, if I make a mistake you won’t think I’m talented” but instead they think ‘oh, if I don’t take on hard things and stick to them, I’m not going to grow”. That’s why, in line with these concepts, Juan highlighted how ‘Perfect’ might indicate something is not going so well. “If your practice looks perfect, and the players are not making mistakes, I would encourage you to reassess and possibly change that practice. If they are not making mistakes, I’m not sure they are developing”.
Glenn ‘Doc’ Rivers – Team Culture and Dealing with Conflict and Pressure.
Glenn ‘Doc’ Rivers is one of the most recognized coaches in the NBA. We took an interdisciplinary step towards watching and analyzing the remarkable Netflix documentary “The Playbook: A Coach’s Rule For Life“, in which this wonderful coach shares some of his coaching experiences and conflicts he faced both as head coach of the Boston Celtics and the L.A. Clippers.
2. Use external conflicts and crises to unite and strengthen the team culture: Problems arise, whether we like it or not. How we deal with them is what makes a difference. Can we turn them into a uniting force on the team? Can we turn them into an emotional lace among team members? That’s the learning I take from Doc Rivers and the Donald Sterling situation. Instead of eroding the team culture, it brought the team closer than ever.
Doug Lemov – Building Culture
Megan McCormick, Rush Soccer’s Coach Education Consultant, covers the topic of Building Culture through this publication from world renowned Coach Educator Doug Lemov -CEO of Uncommon Schools and author of ‘Teach Like a Champion’, a recognized study in the U.S. field on teachers in urban areas that have obtained great results, analyzing their concrete working methods-, in which the author dives into some of the systems to connect teams and build strong mindsets.
2. Respond Rather Than React: Coaches make statements… in response to player errors in part to protect their own ego, suggests Stu Singer, a consultant who works with coaches to develop their mindfulness and self-discipline. “The statement lets everybody know: I taught him better. It’s about protecting the self instead of responding to the athlete”. That’s disruptive for team culture.
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