First Four Steps of Turning Vision into Action

This is the second of a three-part series about managing and moving past resistance to change in your school community. You can read the first blog post here.

Change is not the problem—it’s the resistance to change that is the problem. As school and sports leaders, it can feel like you’re constantly taking two steps forward and one step back when trying to institute any meaningful change in your community. As an AD, I have found the most effective way to meet that resistance and make successful change is: Discontent x Vision x First Steps > Resistance.

If you are growing frustrated in this movement or feel stuck, use the equation and identify three to four issues you are most discontent with, create a vision, identify the first step and anticipate the resistance that is sure to work against your change. In this blog post, I’ll share the steps I’ve taken to address discontentment and how to start turning your vision into action.

First Things First—Define Your Client

As I stated in my previous blog post, I believe our athletes are our client and we need to partner with our parents to provide the best possible experience. We need to stop working against each other and work together towards a common goal.

Second—Create Common Language

A big part of working towards a common goal is creating common language around how we as a program will serve our athletes. Our parents must hear one consistent message regarding coaching the whole child—one of athlete accountability instead of athlete entitlement.

The most effective way to bust a culture of athlete entitlement is to actively build and reinforce a culture of athlete accountability. We have to adopted a three-pronged approach in our effort to create a team first culture.

  1. Create a common language to clarify the concept of team first
  2. Practice team activities to develop and recognize the desired behaviors
  3. Model the message and the behaviors to reinforce accountability

At the same time, we need to fully embrace how our programs connect to our school and our community. This is how to do it:

  1. Establish a sense of pride for playing for your school and community
  2. Add value to your program by focusing on human growth and development
  3. Recruit your building by connecting with all student athletes
  4. Promote a philosophy of one; share coaches and share athletes

Third—Commit to the Athletes in Your Community  

I have fully adopted Dr. Jeff Duke’s three-dimensional pyramid for all of the professional development I provide for my coaches. I ask my coaches to be intentional in their practice and game planning to include the basics fundamentals of their sport, psychology behind the sport, and coaching to heart or spirit of the athletes. This is how we best serve our clients.  

Fundamentals: We are committed to improving our athletes craft. Our coaches work every day to provide best-practice strategies for training, skill development and  tactical approaches.

Psychology: Every program at my school worked with Dr. Cindra Kamphoff or Minnesota State University to develop a common language around motivation, overcoming fear, confidence and dealing with anxiety. Our programs have adopted three things that help every athlete compete and perform at the highest level possible. They are:

  1. Learn, Burn & Return: Our athletes will be coached! Mistakes are okay and very much a part of the learning process. Coaches will correct the mistakes and give athletes another try. The athlete must learn to “burn” or “flush” the mistake.
  2. ANT’s (Automatic Negative Thoughts) All athletes have an inner-voice that often tells them they can’t do something or aren’t good enough. Our athletes are challenged to replace this inner voice with a positive affirmation. Athletes adopt statements like “Anything is possible and I am doing this for my team.”  
  3. APE up: (Attitude, preparation, effort) Our athletes are taught to control the controllables.  We will not waste our energy on things we can’t control. We will focus on our attitude, preparation and our effort.  

Fourth—Coaching to the Spirit or Heart of the Athlete  

Our coaches are committed to fostering meaningful relationships with their athletes built on love, appreciation, kindness, empathy and respect. Our coaches use a Top 20 strategy called “Four at the Door” for greeting each athlete every day. Showing athletes that they matter, matters.

  1. Name to name: The coach greets the athlete by using the students name.
  2. Eye to eye: The coach isn’t distracted during the greeting. They give the student eye contact to show them that they see them as a human and that they matter. (Instill value)
  3. Hand to hand: The coach offers some form of appropriate human contact like a high five, a fist bump, a handshake, etc.
  4. Heart to heart: The coach mentions something to the student about their world. For example, the coach could comment on the new movie that just came out, or last night’s basketball game, or anything that is of interest to that student that shows that they are known and matter.

This, of course, is just the start of change. But at the heart of it, it’s 100% committing to your student-athletes and being intentional on how you show up for them, every day. But not everyone’s visions and goals are the same, so in the next blog post I’ll address resistance and ways to counter it.