Florida State football coach Jimbo Fisher looked at a sea of media as he stepped to the podium for the first time as head coach following coaching icon Bobby Bowden. As Director of Performance at the IMG Academy in Florida, I had been hired by coach Fisher a few seasons earlier to consult and implement a ‘mental conditioning' program for the offense. Of all the comments Fisher made in that 45-minute introduction to the sports world, perhaps none were more critical for the 2010 season than the two below:
1. Players don't have to be sick to get better.
2. Coaching is less about making them think highly of you and more about them thinking more highly of themselves.
Coaching is getting more challenging. There are more distractions. There are more opinions. There are more voices than ever. This is your reality today. As Fisher noted, you've got to keep improving and you need to foster an environment where they believe both in themselves and each other.
Over the next series of weeks, MaxPreps, IMG Academy, and Combine360.com will bring you a series of articles focused on continuing to grow your program, regardless of the current level. In today's article we will focus on two critical components.
Athletes need a baseline. Coaching staffs need baseline numbers on their players. It's Sunday and I just came out of an NFL Combine meeting here in Bradenton, Florida. There were about nine of us in the meeting looking through a wide variety of 'measureables' and making modifications to our training for the upcoming week. We use a structure called combine360 (www.combine360.com). It's essentially a scaled-down version of an NFL combine that's designed for a variety of sports. There are nine physical tests, three sport-specific tests, three movement based tests, a vision test, a mental toughness test, a nutritional analysis and a communication diagnostic. We look at the athletes' scores in all areas and base our training largely on improving the results.
Anything you can do here is a positive. If players know they will have a battery of tests to complete, and that those assessments have both meaning and consequences, then they will find incentive to work to achieve the right results. What the NFL has found out and what we've found out is that there is a correlation between testing well and performing well. While far from perfect, it still provides meaningful data and a means for comparison.
Research shows that 55 percent of an athlete's perception of their coach is non-verbal. This means the information they interpret from you largely depends on how you look when you communicate it. Be mindful of facial gestures, muscle tension, as well as demonstrative hand and body movements. Think about that … 55 percent.
You are speaking even when you are not speaking. In addition, 38 percent of an impression is extra-verbal or voice tone. Athletes DO process sincerity, sarcasm, frustration, anger, excitement, energy and enthusiasm. In fact, only 7 percent of an athlete's perception comes from the actual words you are saying.
What does this mean for you?
As a consultant for a variety of exceptional programs – Alabama Football, Manatee High School football, and the Jacksonville Jaguars – you begin to notice common denominators of successful programs. Ray Kroc, the legendary founder of McDonald's, said that "when you are green you grow, and when you're ripe you rot." I've seen this demonstrated in these programs consistently. What books can they read? Where can they improve with the players? How can they 'fine-tune' their coaching style?
Many were surprised when Tom Coughlin formed a leadership council amongst players en route to the New York Giants' first Super Bowl in the 21st century. I was not.Coughlin hired me with the Jaguars, and one of the first things he said to me was that the coaches needed to find ways to reach these players that differed from the old stick and carrot.
We look forward to communicating on a consistent basis with you, the coaches, going forward. You play critical roles in these athletes' lives. You play critical roles in their overall direction.
Trevor Moawad was a two sport collegiate athlete and serves as IMG's Director of Performance. For more information on Moawad and the Athletic & Personal Development program and Coach Education please visit www.imgacademy.com and www.combine360.com.