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Three Ways Coaches Can Be More Vulnerable w/Their Athletes

Updated: Oct 27, 2022

"Don't be talking about your three home run games. They don't care about that. It just makes them feel inadequate. Tell 'em about how you went 0 for 5 w/ 5 strikeouts, show your humanness." -Dave Turgeon.

Dave works with some of the best coaches in baseball who have unbelievable resumes, like Buck Showalter & Clint Hurdle.

And he coaches kids who are the best in the nation. But you know what? They still would rather have a coach who cares about being vulnerable and truthful than a showboat coach with a great resume.

The other day I talked with Addie (my girlfriend) about coaching & teaching. I asked her, "why don't more coaches spend time asking questions & connecting with their students?"

"They don't ask questions or want to connect deeper because it requires them to be vulnerable," Addie said.

Lightbulb moment.

Vulnerability and "feelings" have been viewed as a weakness in sports for decades.

But now they are a strength.

Storytime

I had an opportunity to be the director of the Royal Basketball School summer camp earlier this year, and it was a blast!

I took the time every morning to say hi or good morning to every player who walked into the gym. Then if I had time, I'd ask what you would have for breakfast, or sometimes a more specific question like, did you watch the Dodgers game last night?

The relationships we had the opportunity to build as a coaching staff this summer were remarkable. I remember asking kids for feedback on my coaching, asking how I could improve, and they looked at me like I was a mythical creature!

As coaches, teachers, & leaders, we often forget that we are a work in progress. I believe it's a strength to ask for specific and helpful feedback from our athletes. It lets them into our growth process as well.

Three Ways We Can Be More Vulnerable

1. ASK! - Ask the silly get-to-know-you questions. Favorite food? Place to vacation? Then continually ask the deeper ones, "what are your strengths? Weaknesses? How can I improve?

2. Share - Sharing your story is so powerful in connecting with kids. I always share the story of getting cut from varsity in my junior year because that's relatable for kids. They don't want to hear how good you were; they also want to hear the challenges they are going through right now.

3. Make Mistakes - Be willing to own your mistakes and ask for feedback. If you want your athletes to grow constantly, you must role model what it looks like first!

Vulnerability doesn't have to share your whole life story with all your athletes. It means you must let your guard down and show your humanity daily.

DM me on any platform or respond to this email & let's have a conversation on being vulnerable!

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