Improving through “Failure”

I became a better sailor today…. by “failing”

My cousin has a Hobie 14 catamaran that we have sailed on a small Missouri lake (Lake Tapawingo) for the past two years… probably 20+ times total.

We also sailed a Hobie 14 on Potrero Bay, in the Pacific Ocean of the shores of Costa Rica.  Here is a brief clip of that sail…

 

We have always sailed in conditions that were “comfortable” for us… about 10 knots of wind, both on the lake and ocean… and we have become very good at sailing this small/ quick boat.

We have never gotten into trouble, had any mishaps, and were feeling pretty confident about our skill level.

After our last time sailing in the ocean, we both agreed that we would like to test ourselves by sailing in some more extreme (windy) conditions.

Those conditions presented themselves yesterday (20+ mph winds) so we took to Lake Tapawingo to test our skills.

On our first trip across the lake… maybe 2-3 minutes into the sail we got tested.

The wind picked up and immediately capsized the Hobie. While we had read, and knew how to right the vessel, we had never been forced to do it.

As we gathered ourselves (and gear that was floating everywhere) the Hobie “turtled” on us … went completely upside down… mast pointing down into the water, bottom of the boat up.

turtle

After about 30 minutes of work (and with the help of two other boaters, one of which had experience sailing a Hobie) we were able to get the boat righted and started off.

Learning from our first mistake, we adjusted our weight on the boat to help prevent another capsizing and began sailing again…. and had several minutes of good sailing, putting to use our new knowledge of managing the boat in higher wind.

Then we got tested again…. another big gust and over we went!

This time, though, we got the boat righted immediately and were again on our way.

We had learned from our first “failure” and handled this challenge with relative ease.

A broken part on the rudder prevented us from continuing, or we may have been tested even more. As it was, we licked our wounds, dropped the sail, and ingloriously paddled the boat back to the dock.

At the dock we both debriefed… looking at what we could have done differently (better), what mistakes we made, and what we had learned.

We both agreed that, although we didn’t get a lot of sailing in that day, that we were glad we went out… that we tested ourselves.

It is only by getting out of our “comfort zone” that we can grow. It is only by testing our limits, that we can expand our limits.

I know now that I improved my Hobie sailing skills because of our “failures” that day.

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Remember – You Can Do More… your brain is lying to you…. Don’t Believe It!

Jeff Floyd – youcandomore1@yahoo.com

 

Courage

Being more of a spectator now as opposed to an active coach has given me new perspective (and renewed appreciation) on our job as coaches.

It takes courage to participate in athletics, whether as a coach or participant.

You are putting yourself “out there” for everyone… spectators, family, friends and foes alike to watch, judge, critique, etc. It is easy to sit in the stands and grouse about how your team is lacking, or how your team’s players are “not very good”. It is much harder to compete, take the risk, do the work, and be a Doer!

It takes courage to be a coach, to put your product out for evaluation every Friday night or Tuesday or Sunday afternoon. I chuckle inside when other teachers (non coaches) worry/ complain/ get angry about being “evaluated” once or twice a year. Coaches not only get evaluated during those two “official” teaching evaluations, but also every Friday night when they put their team on the field. The evaluation is done not only by school officials, but parents, community members, students, and the media.

football-pressure-coachIn addition to these “evaluations” many of us also get evaluated almost daily by our Activities Director and/ or administration… watching practice, checking grades, monitoring your teams behavior while they are at school. And it is ALL GOOD! It comes with the job; it is what we signed up for, and generally keeps us on our toes.

So why do we do it? Why do we decide to compete… to coach?

This is a excerpt from Seth Godin’s blog that I re-read yesterday about being a spectator as opposed to a Doer:

“The spectators foolishly assert that if everyone was a doer, a leader and a maker of ruckuses, then there’d be no one left in the audience. As if those that do require an audience.”

“The alternative to being a spectator involves failure and apparent risk. It means that you will encounter people who accuse you of hubris and flying too high, people who are eager to point out the loose thread on your jacket or the flaw in your reasoning. The spectators in the stands are happy to boo, happy to walk out when the team is struggling in the third period, happy to switch if the bread or the circuses cease to delight.”

“Why on earth, they ask, would they want to be anything but a spectator?”

“And yet, those that have foolishly picked themselves, stood up, stood out and made a difference, can’t help but ask, “and why would I ever want to be a spectator again?””

You (and your players) have picked yourselves and stood up…

You (and your players) are Doers…. You are Competitors!

You have chosen a more difficult path…. a more difficult, but much more rewarding path.

You make a difference.

Ours is an awesome job, with awesome responsibilities!

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Remember – You Can Do More… your brain is lying to you…. Don’t Believe It!

Jeff Floyd – youcandomore1@yahoo.com

 

Culture

Culture.

The culture of a program…

The culture of your program…

What is encompassed by this phrase?

  • The expectations regarding success…
  • The expectations regarding character…
  • Confidence…
  • Work Habits…
  • Classroom conduct…
  • Team and individual goals…
  • How players are held accountable in these areas

These concepts and many more that I am sure you can think of.

Trying to change the culture of a program is an incredibly difficult task.

How is it done? How can you accomplish this? How can you…

success-sign

  • Move your team from the point of no success or expectations of success…
  • To winning some games against weaker opponents… teams you are “expected” to win…
  • To expecting success…wins … weekly and against all opponents.

I have written on this subject before and highlighted programs and individuals that changed the culture in their programs.

I have been involved in a few of these situations as a coach… both with success and without.

Here is what I have come to believe is one of the most important concepts when trying to change the culture of a program…

  • It takes a village.
  • It takes all hands on deck.
  • It takes everyone speaking the same language with the same expectations.
  • It takes everyone in the building and community being on the same page

If the expectations are understood by the athletes in your football program, but change when they participate in other sports, all the learning and progress made during the fall season is diminished.

If the athletes are expected to compete daily in your strength and conditioning class, but can take days off in another instructors class, the culture you are trying to change takes a hit.

If you are teaching your athletes the importance of great daily practice habits to be successful, but they are not hearing this in their other sports, or their other classes, or at home, then your task of changing the culture becomes more difficult.

You get the idea.

If you are trying to change the culture of your program (or sustain the great culture you already have) and things are not progressing as you would like…. I would take a look at what is happening when the athletes are not under your tutelage.

It is difficult to deliver an effective message… it is difficult for your athletes to “hear” your message if they are only expected to “listen” two or three hours a day.

Your message HAS to become the school/ community message.

It can be, and has been done… so you can do it!

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Remember – You Can Do More… your brain is lying to you…. Don’t Believe It! 

Jeff Floyd – youcandomore1@yahoo.com

 

Advice From the Other Side

Take care of yourself.

It is that time of year.

  • School starting …
  • Fall seasons beginning …
  • 110+ hour workweeks ramping up…

And only 24 hours in a day

If you are like most coaches that I know, your priorities will look something like this…

  1. Take care of your family
  2. Take care of your team (which means putting them in the best position possible to be successful)
  3. Take care of your staff

Any extra minute/ hour you can eek out will be allocated back to one of these three things.

I was the same way.

For most of my career I would grind… putting all of my time and effort into Family, Team, and Staff.

I went from consistently training and being in great shape, to each year spending less and less time doing so… until my personal training became non-existent.

About 4 years ago I was forced to begin working out when I had a hip replacement and needed to rehab… progressing from walking…. to walking/ jogging… to jogging… normally for about 45 minutes to an hour, 3 or so times a week.

And when the season/school started… maybe on the weekends if at all.

Low intensity + Inconsistent Routine = Not Great Results

My advice… based on my experience… carve out some time to really take care of yourself.

  • Eat right
  • Exercise

Here is what I learned first hand this summer (yes, you can teach an old dog new tricks)

Instead of a long, slow, plodding jog/ walk… I stared doing interval training.   It is not a new concept, just something that I had not done since I was a competitive track athlete… and in great shape.

Basically 4-5 times a week I do one of the following workouts.

45 Second Interval Workout

  • 5-minute warm up
  • 45-second medium tempo interval
  • 45-second fast tempo interval
  • 2-minute recovery (walk)
  • Repeat intervals 5 times
  • 5-10 minute cool down

30 Second Interval Workout

  • 5-minute warm up
  • 30-second medium tempo interval
  • 30-second fast tempo interval
  • 2-minute recovery (walk)
  • Repeat intervals 7 times
  • 5-10 minute cool down

On days that I am not doing one of these interval workouts, I try to go out for a longer, more leisurely walk.

And that is it.

The interval workouts take maybe 40-45 minutes.

Physically and mentally I feel better than I have in 30 years…. at times I feel I could be back on the crushed gravel track at Blue Springs High school (yes… crushed gravel… no synthetic surface) running repeat 200m runs.

My heart rate data confirms my improved physical condition. You can see on this chart that my heart rate recovers quickly during each 2-minute recovery.

workout data

Now back to you.

It is a long season…and a long school year…

  • Wouldn’t you like a little more in your tank in October when you are heading into playoff time?
  • Wouldn’t you like a little more in your tank in January when you deep into your off-season routine?
  • Wouldn’t you like a little more in your tank at the end of next summer when you are preparing for another Fall campaign?

You get the idea… time spent on YOU will pay off with more quality time with Family, Team, and Staff.

I am not saying you have to do THIS workout, but I can tell you that I feel better, and spend less time doing this routine as opposed to the LSD (long slow distance) type of training I was doing previous.

Good luck this season… I will enjoy following you all during the next several months!

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Remember – You Can Do More… your brain is lying to you…. Don’t Believe It!

Jeff Floyd – youcandomore1@yahoo.com

Your “Happy File”

Being a Coach/ Teacher is a difficult profession.

We put our product… our self and our team… out there for everyone to see and “evaluate” many times a year.

As Coach Greg Schiano said,

“There are two things every man in America thinks he can do: work a grill and coach football”

Or volleyball, or basketball, or soccer.

And our harshest critic is typically our self.

If we lose, we shoulder the blame and analyze everything that could have been done differently or better…

When we win, we heap praise on those around us and immediately start scheming for the next contest, often without taking time to enjoy the one that finished bare minutes ago.

Here is a suggestion, as corny as it sounds, to help achieve some balance when the negative voices (including those of our own making) start getting too loud.

Many years ago my wife suggested that I keep a “Happy File”… a file to hold all the nice things that come my way… cards, letters, notes, etc.   I file that I could pull out every so often and get reminded of the good work… the good people… that have happened to me.

IMG_0414I started my “Happy File” over 30 years ago and it has traveled with me throughout my career.

I have letters from athletes that I coached during my first head coaching position at Osceola High School.

I have a letter from the mother of the first athlete I recruited and signed while I was at the University of Central Missouri.

I have notes from principals, Athletic Directors, Journalists, Assistant Coaches, and English teachers.

When I pull that file out … like recently when I added some things to it… and glance through its contents, I am immediately taken back to that time… that event… and the emotions surrounding it. It is powerfulvisceralreal.

And it always lifts my spirits.

It does not make the job any easier, but keeping a “Happy File” is a pretty simple way to help achieve some balance when you hit that inevitable rough patch.

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Jeff Floyd – youcandomore1@yahoo.com

 

 

What Your Athletes Really Want From You

The week leading up to my retirement in May, a couple of teachers did a really nice thing. They encouraged students that were in my Strength and Conditioning class to write “thank you” letters and cards to me.

FullSizeRender 3I received about 80 of these notes!

What these 7th and 8th graders  wrote was sweet, thoughtful, and revealing. I think that because they knew I was leaving, they felt comfortable really opening up…. and they did.

Here are some excerpts from a few of their letters….

“You have motivated and inspired us to be physically and mentally strong. We will use this strength for the rest of our lives.”

“From you, I learned about confidence and never giving up… and I thank you so much for that”

“Thank you for everything you have taught me this year… mentally, four words, “you can do more” mean so much and apply to all things”

“You made me stronger and taught me how to compete and never give up”

“Thank you for teaching me how to be a better athlete and compete. I will carry these skills throughout high school and life.”

“You motivated me and made me believe I can do anything and not to give up. I feel like I can do more because of you and I appreciate that.”

“You taught me how to push myself and try my best all of the time.”

“I want to thank you for pushing me to do my vest, believing in me, and for never letting me give up”

“I have improved in so many ways, both mentally and physically, and I know it will help me the rest of my life.”

“This class made me both mentally and physically stronger and made me more competitive”

“Thank you for always pushing me to work hard. I will carry everything you taught me throughout my life.”

“This class also helped build up my self confidence and helped my focus”

“Thank you for helping me push through and do things I thought were nearly impossible. I will always remember you and use your advice for the rest of my life!”

“I have learned more about myself this year in weightlifting than I could have imagined. Without this class I wouldn’t be the person or athlete I am today.”

“Because of the strength and conditioning class I accomplished that goal, and now maybe I could accomplish the other goals on my Goal Card like go to BYU!”

“I just want you to know that you have changed my point of view in about everything! You have showed me that no matter the challenge, I could accomplish it as long as I do my best. I want you to know that you have affected my life greatly and I wont ever forget you.”

“Thank you for always pushing me in the weight room, sports, academics, etc. You have had a big impact on my life.”

“You helped me become a better athlete and person by pushing me and never letting me quit even if I wanted to.”

You can probably see for yourself that there are some common threads running through the notes from these thoughtful young adults. Here are some of my takeaways:

  • They want to be pushed… they want to work hard
  • They want someone to believe in them
  • They know they are learning life skills 

I shared these heartfelt comments not to pat myself on the back, but so you will realize THIS

You have kids in your program that feel the same way about you… but since you aren’t retiring, you aren’t afforded the luxury (and enjoyment) of reading 80 thank you cards.

Those kids are out there… they are counting on you… they are looking up to you… they want you to inspire and push them… they want you to believe in them.

They need you… and you make a difference in their lives.

Yours is an awesome job with awesome responsibilities.

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Remember – You Can Do More… your brain is lying to you…. Don’t Believe It! 

Jeff Floyd – youcandomore1@yahoo.com

When Everyone Stops to Watch

We have all seen it…

No buildup or promo is needed…

It is not a matter of mass marketing or launching a social media campaign…

It is genuinehonestorganic

Everyone in the room knows that they are witnessing something special

There is a mutual respectadmiration… for what is being attempted…

Everyone stops what they are doing and watches…

Anxiously…. nervously… hopefully…

Wanting to witness a successful attempt.

This happened yesterday in one of my Strength and Conditioning classes.

Airianna Miller, an 8th grader in her second year in this class, was attempting a new PR for her 8-rep max on push press.

Airianna plays basketball, volleyball, and is a competitive cheerleader.

This is what happened at the end of class yesterday.

 

None of this was staged or pre-arranged.

The class knew what she was attempting… and as you can see in the video… more and more people stopped to watch as she successfully completed each rep.

By the time she had finished everyone had stopped to watch.

At the end there was great excitement. You can only see the beginning before the film cuts off, but the whole class stopped to give Arianna an ovation.

Including me.

  • Who says 8th graders are silly and immature?
  • Who says 8th graders are mean spirited?
  • Who says 8th graders are irresponsible?
  • Who says 8th graders can’t work together?
  • Who says 8th graders are not physically or mentally ready to take a Strength and Conditioning class?
  • Who says 8th graders like bodily function humor?

OK… maybe the last one is correct… the others… not so much!

This job can be really awesome!

Remember – You Can Do More… your brain is lying to you…. Don’t Believe It!

Jeff Floyd – youcandomore1@yahoo.com

Abraham, Martin and John… and Bobby

Abraham, Martin, and John

and Bobby….

Some of you may remember (or may have heard) this song by Dion (not Clisso… just plain Dion). It was written after the assassinations of Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy in 1968.

Although just a kid, I remember the song resonating with me and thinking, “those are all special people… they are really going to be missed… why is this happening?”

Bouchard, Oder, and Boehm

and Schartz …

Fred Bouchard, Greg Oder, Royce Boehm, and Ryan Schartz.

Slide1

Now, I am not trying to compare the accomplishments of these coaches to Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King Jr., John and Bobby Kennedy, or the gravity of their assassinations, but I have to tell you, collectively, this hits hard….

These retirements have and will leave a void among the Kansas City area coaching family.

And this does not even include our colleagues on the Kansas side and others on the Missouri side…

I can write about these four because I competed against them, my teams battled with theirs, and I admired their work…. up close!

They are extraordinary.

Their teams were always well coached, disciplined, and smart.

Their teams always played hard.

They always got the most out of the talent they had.

They all have at least one state championship under their belts.

I had these programs in mind two weeks into the 2014 season when I wrote this post, Winning, when Blue Springs South was 0-2, and Fort Osage was making winning look “easy”.

I know the new men in these positions will continue the great traditions established by these coaches… but I still can’s help but think….

“those are all special people… they are really going to be missed… why is this happening?”

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Remember – You Can Do More… your brain is lying to you…. Don’t Believe It!

Jeff Floyd – youcandomore1@yahoo.com

 

Player Ranking Process

As coaches, we always want to make sure our best people are on the field at the correct time. Personally, I also want to make sure, as much as possible, that these decisions are based on good data and accurate information… that personalities and biases are not included in the equation.

To help insure this, when I was at the University of Central Missouri, we started a procedure to that end… a Player Ranking system.

Here is how it worked.

Immediately after every practice each position group coach would rank every player in their position group, assigning them a number (if you had 10 players in your position group then 1-10) based on their performance at that practice. I always tried to mentally go through each period and recall how each individual did… both good and bad for each period… and then assign the ranking after that thought process.

The important part of this, which we stressed to our players, was that the practice ranking was for their performance at that practice only.

It was not an indication of…

  • how good a player they were
  • who the starters were
  • what we thought they were capable of
  • how we thought they practiced yesterday
  • if we “liked” them
  • their potential
  • how they did at the end of practice

It was based on that practice … that entire practice… only.

As defensive coordinator, I collected all of the coach’s rankings and entered them on a spreadsheet. We sorted each position group by the rankings for that day, printed and posted them in our team room. We also had a column for their average ranking each week.

This process, tedious as it could be during double day practices in August, gave us some valuable information, and forced our coaches and players to be more accountable on a daily basis.

The players knew they were going to get ranked, and their rank was based on the entire practice… period by period… and those rankings would be printed and displayed.

The coaches, too, knew that their position group rankings would be displayed… and that they must be able to discuss the “whys” … the specifics… with their players.

As coaches by noting any variance in our player’s weekly average, we could see and spot (hopefully early) any trends that were developing and address them.

And, of course, it also became a valuable tool to fall back on when setting our weekly depth chart. We had very few discussions when the depth chart was posted as to players positions on the chart… there were few surprises.

This process was independent and separate from our film grading (see post – Film Grading Tool) procedures which we used during game and scrimmage situations.

Here is a sample player-ranking template for the Linebacker defensive position group at Anytown High School… made up names, but this is pretty much what it looked like in the day.

Defensive Player Ranking

You can download the template by clicking this link – Player Ranking Template.

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Remember – You Can Do More… your brain is lying to you…. Don’t Believe It!

Jeff Floyd – youcandomore1@yahoo.com

 

It’s That Simple

Last week, while sitting at a varsity basketball game, I had the chance to visit with a group of former students that I had in my 8th grade Strength and Conditioning class last year. These student-athletes are now high school freshman and have had a really terrific year… athletically and academically… at our high school.

The conversation centered on their successful first year, and their anticipation of great things to come… they really are a gifted class, by the way.

One of the students made the comment along the lines of  “We’ve got this, Coach… we are going to be the class to turn things around at this school”

I replied, “keep working… you will

He came back with “That’s all you’ve got coach… keep working?”

Yes”, I said, “it really is that simple… and that difficult

It really is that simple…

  • Keep working….
  • Keep chopping wood
  • Keep pushing
  • Keep grinding
  • Keep plugging away
  • Keep driving

And really that difficult…

  • when you start to get pulled different directions…
  • when you lose sight of your goals…
  • when academic rigor gets tough…
  • when cars, and jobs, and relationships start stealing your time…
  • when your alarm goes off at 5:30 am during summer “vacation”…
  • when injuries happen…

when you and your classmates get hit with the million different distractions that are always lurking… just waiting to pounce on you… during your high school career…

Keep working.

chopping wood

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Remember – You Can Do More… your brain is lying to you…. Don’t Believe It!

Jeff Floyd – youcandomore1@yahoo.com