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Landing your dream career in the field of Sports Administration can be nearly as tough as landing one on the sporting field itself. There are limited spaces to fill and only the best of the best will make it. As the Program Coordinator for Masters of Arts in Intercollegiate Athletics Administration at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Brandon Urry makes sure his students stand out from the crowd by focusing on the “people side”. Something he has role modeled himself over the years.
This is a topic that has recently gained a lot of momentum as a critical issue in sport. For elite athletes, the large majority of their effort and energy is focused on their training and competition. Throughout their careers, athletes make personal, professional and financial sacrifices so they can pursue their dreams. This is where the concept of the ‘Athlete Transition’ comes into play. ‘Athlete Transition’ is all about dealing with the challenge of no longer being an elite athlete, whether from a sudden injury or retirement, or even after an athlete’s college sporting career is over.
One of the biggest misconceptions when it comes to Sport Psychology is that an athlete needs to have deficits in their mental game before they can seek support. But Sport Psychologist, Dr. Justin Anderson works with some of the world’s best athletes who just want to “be better”. Dr Anderson, a Licensed Psychologist who leads his Minnesota based practice, knows the value of this distinction.
The value of fostering meaningful relationships is a key concept Dr. Robert Mathner, an Associate Professor at Troy University, Alabama, instils in his Hospitality, Sport & Tourism Management (HSTM) students. He knows that supporting their inter-personal skill development will differentiate them in the job market and goes a long way to ensuring they are well prepared for the next chapter in their lives and careers.
Winning a National Championship is not only an incredibly special feat; it is also very hard to do. So when you win a National Championship twice, you know that it is even better and even harder. Often, the elusive back-to-back National Championships is a dream that rarely comes true.
What is it that makes one college graduate stand out from their peers? And what do employers want more than any other skill when they are recruiting staff? According to the 2016 National Association of Colleges & Employers Job Outlook survey, the answer is leadership, team work and communication. Skills that leading universities are ensuring their students have by the time they graduate.
Earlier this year I released a Handbook and Video Series called Athlete Tough. This project came about because I wanted athletes to understand that qualities such as mental toughness, resilience and grit were in fact teachable skills. Mental toughness is not a mythical quality some are born with and others without. This article delves into what it means to be Athlete Tough. I want to pass on a key factor in becoming Athlete Tough and that is finding your purpose. Or what I also refer to as “Your Big Why”.
Leadership can be a complicated topic. There are literally thousands of well-meaning books and even more articles dedicated to demystifying what leadership is and how to be an effective leader. We know there are different ways to lead and many examples of varying styles and philosophies of leadership. Knowing how to be a leader can be confusing because even though new models of leadership are spoken about, at the same time, we see more traditional styles being enacted within politics, business and sport.
You may be the highest scorer or best hitter in your team, but it takes more than that to last the distance and to be chosen out of a field of hopefuls all wanting to make the cut. Today more than ever, Coaches have more on their “talent” criteria than just the ability to hit a ball or throw a great pass. Now is the most competitive time in the history of sport.
Throughout August the world’s top athletes battled it out in Rio as part of the 2016 Olympic Games. But some far outshone others to take home the medals. According to Scientific American, researchers have a special term for these best of the best: superelites. But what differentiates a superelite, a high performing athlete who was expected to do well and went on to win multiple medals, from someone who competes at the Olympics but goes home empty-handed?
Rio was always going to be an unfamiliar environment for many athletes. As such, it was going to be uncomfortable. And perhaps one of the biggest lessons to be learnt from the performances at Rio was that those athletes with the ability to best adapt to new situations and unexpected circumstances, achieved better results.
The University of Notre Dame Softball Coaching Staff are diverse and they are unique. Not only have they played together, they now coach alongside each other begging the question, what more could you learn from someone you have known so well for so long?
The book GRIT made it onto many coaches reading lists over the summer (including ours) and there has been significant media coverage on the topic too. The interest is well founded as more than ever before, Coaches are unanimous in saying that their athletes are lacking resilience, they aren’t as ‘tough’ as their teams in previous times have been. And not just physically tough, mentally tough. But is ‘grit’ really the solution needed? Has the word ‘grit’ become too interchangeable that the real definition has been lost?
It is not every day that we have the privilege of writing an article about a clients’ success that includes images of the team they work with meeting the US President. But, today is one of those days. We congratulate and celebrate the behind the scenes work of consultant George Naughton and his colleague Dr Jim Brennan with the 2016 National Championship winning team, Villanova Wildcats.
George Naughton has a long history with Athlete Assessments and has been using Athlete Assessments’ DISC Profiles within his consultancy for over five years. He enjoyed enormous success in 2016 when one of his clients, the Villanova Men’s Basketball Team, won the D1 National Championship. George shares his personal insights with us in this Q&A.
As athletes we all start at the very beginning and over time, develop the skills and techniques needed to be successful in our chosen sport. This process can be defined by the Conscious Competence Learning Matrix, or a 4 stage model outlining the various stages of learning an athlete goes through in order to acquire new skills. Coaches can utilize this method when teaching their athletes new skills, plays, systems and guiding them through a learning process.
“People don’t quit jobs, they quit bosses.” Why? Because they don’t feel engaged in their roles. A Gallup survey of reasons for people leaving their jobs, found nearly 75% of people decided to quit because of their boss or the managerial working environment, and only 35.4% of Americans felt engaged in their workplace. In sport, we know how important athlete engagement is. We also know that a great Coach-athlete relationship is a key indicator in success. And both of these things are factors that can be influenced through using these specific strategies.
A recent Gallup survey assessing post college life for former-student-athletes found that females outperformed other college graduates – male, non-athlete-females or otherwise – on important career and life outcomes. Similarily, High School and College females who played sports were found to be more likely to get better grades and graduate than those who did not play sports.
As part of Athlete Assessments’ Academic Services, Bo Hanson provided Dr Gonzalo Bravo’s class with a guest lecture to help the students understand how DISC could help them in securing the right post graduate job for them. The students completed the Athlete Assessments’ Sports ManagerDISC Profile assessment and then used the information collated through their DISC Reports to understand how they are more or less attracted, and suited, to real life post graduate jobs.
Gender equality in sports has always been a controversial topic. Even the founder of the modern Olympics, Baron Pierre de Coubertin, said in 1896, “No matter how toughened a sportswoman may be, her organism is not cut out to sustain certain shocks.” Although gender equality has come a long way, including UNESCO recognizing sports and physical activity as a human right in 1978, we need to ask ourselves, has it come far enough?
Both psychometrics and DISC have their pros when it comes to assessing various components of personality and behavioral traits. In most cases it is a personal choice as to which you choose when evaluating your potential athletes or employees. However in sports, we have found that DISC is preferred because the focus is on developing self-awareness, knowing what works for you and what doesn’t, and ultimately increasing the choices of behavior to what is most effective to the situation and those you work with. This is key to high performance and leadership.
As a Coach, when an athlete shows initiative and takes ownership of team culture, it’s a big deal. Culture is a measure of the observable behaviors your team and organization promotes and accepts. Culture is not what you think, or want to do, it is what you actually do. According to Amy Hogue, Head Coach of the University of Utah’s Softball team, the Utah Utes, winning games shouldn’t be a team’s number one priority, culture should.
We had a chance to chat to Amy Hogue about life as Head Softball Coach at the University of Utah and about some of her stand out moments along the way. Amy Hogue recently signed a multi-year deal that takes her through the 2019 season and in 2014, Hogue led the Utes to their first winning record in the PAC-12, going 12-11 and winning six of eight conference series and named the PAC-12 Coach of the Year.
The Coach athlete relationship is recognized as a performance factor in today’s modern sporting environment. Like any other relationship it is defined by the quality of understanding, respect, trust and predictability that exists between two people. What makes the Coach athlete relationship unique when compared to relationships which may exist between two athletes or two friends outside of sport, is drawn from our understanding of social science and how infants form attachment to their parents or what is also known as their primary care giver.
Sports in many ways is like education. Athletes need to be taught new skills, they need to be nurtured, especially in the conscious incompetence and unconscious competence stages of their learning where these new skills are still foreign to them, such as in youth sports, and athletes need to be given the best opportunities to grow and succeed by their Coaches and teammates.
The best-selling book Moneyball changed the way people think about data analytics in sport. It changed the way player performance was measured and assessed using algorithms and science driven by the ability to gather vast amounts of data about players and the play during a game. While this is exciting, and having and relying on all of this data is tempting, unless you can find a way to make it meaningful to athletes, it won’t work.
We all know sports is good for us. We know it acts as a vehicle for life skills, gives us an opportunity to participate, be the best we can be and helps us develop resiliency during our training and in competition. But what you might not know is that former student-athletes are also stronger and more consistent, in areas of well-being outside of sports than non-student-athletes.
Our role at Athlete Assessments is to help people become more self-aware. I recently had the experience of working with a young athlete who had just completed her AthleteDISC Profile. During our consultation, we discovered that all of the behaviors she had previously seen as being a limitation in her sport, were in fact behaviors that could be her greatest strengths.
Adapting your behavior without compromising your values: One of the challenges we face as Coaches or as leaders at some stage of our career is when we feel like our values have been compromised. So what are our values, what defines them and what is the difference between our values and behavior? As a Coach we are constantly needing to adapt our behaviors to better deal with different people and different circumstances. But we should never change who we are fundamentally.
For Professor Hedlund, it is always exciting to hear about the successes of previous students. But it’s even more exciting when they tell you they were offered a position paying $20,000 more per annum than the one they applied for thanks to what they learnt in your class. After Natasha Miller studied a Masters of Professional Studies at St. John’s University and completed the Athlete Assessments Sports ManagerDISC Profile in a Sports Management class with Professor David Hedlund, that exact situation occurred.
Accountability in sport is doing what you say you’re going to do and executing the task to the best of your ability. Then being able to put your hand up and say ‘this is what I need to do better’ if you don’t get it right. Being accountable is not making excuses, not blaming others or whinging and complaining. Accountability in sport is taking ownership of something and making sure you ‘know your job and do your job’ 100% of the time.
There are instances in sport when a coach will experience a significant break-through with an athlete, or an intense moment of satisfaction when something goes exceptionally well. For consultants, it isn’t all that different. There are still those special moments when it all comes together and the dedication to the role delivers a “life changing” experience for the client. Performance Consultant Patrick Rufo recently shared one of these very moments with us.
Athletes and coaches understand the importance of each individual player performing at their personal best and striving to be the best player they can be. But what does it mean to be the “best player for the team”? Being the best player for the team, can often mean putting your own needs or ego in your back pocket. It can also mean giving up aspects of technical play or team roles in order to let someone else play these roles so you can focus elsewhere for the team’s benefit. Learn all about this critical topic here.
As a coach, nothing is more demoralizing than a losing streak that just won’t break. While we do our absolute best to avoid losing streaks, performance slumps, or even the prospect of our team underachieving it doesn’t mean we can avoid the topic, it’s too important. I was recently at a conference where this very topic was discussed. There was a lot of conversation, but few of even the most experienced coaches had reliable strategies to deal with it. This demonstrates to me why we should address this very issue, so if you’re ever confronted with one you can handle it well.
Mental toughness and resilience is a key quality in athletes that are revered and successful in their chosen sport. The US Navy SEALs resilience is renowned, they are some of the most mentally tough people in the world. So when I was afforded the opportunity to spend time with the Navy SEALs and listen to their take on mental toughness, it was a real privilege and one of the most significant experiences I had during my coaching years.
In 1995, Becky Burleigh became the First Head Coach of the Florida Gators Women’s Soccer Program. In the 20 years that have followed, Coach Burleigh has forged a career of excellence because she has continued to invest – invest in herself, in other coaches, in her student-athletes and in the younger generation of women’s soccer players. With an extensive list of achievements including a Division I National Championship already under her belt, we caught up with Becky to hear her insights into sustaining success in coaching.
Recruiting. It’s fundamental to the success of any team and as coaches, you make an enormous investment in time with the aim to get it right. So often, coaches are looking for the X-factor or conversations are focused on a physical attribute of a particular player. Are you missing one of the most critical aspects for your team’s success? And, could the success factor come from an unlikely place?
We continue to strive to lift our game in providing an exceptional level of service and the highest quality products. Most recently, we’ve been working on DISC survey design improvements for our three DISC Profile assessments and we’re excited to share the latest development. What’s Changed? The content of the DISC survey remains the same, but we’ve improved the survey interface so that it is mobile device friendly, making it easier to complete on phones and tablets. (It works nicely on desktop and laptop computers too.)
Congratulations to Quinnipiac University’s Women’s Rugby team who have finished an exceptional 2015 season by winning the inaugural varsity National Championship. In this article, Head Coach Becky Carlson shares her secrets to success. Since moving to Quinnipiac University from her position with USA Rugby as an Emerging Sports Program Manager in 2011, Head Coach Becky Carlson has led her team to uncharted success, and has dramatically changed the landscape of Women’s Rugby in the United States.
Let’s face it, winning is always the number one priority for any elite sporting team. Yet, success doesn’t have to be at the expense of other critical issues. Very often, getting these other areas right is what leads to winning and winning consistently. So, what are these ‘other areas’? When reflecting on this year’s most critical issues in elite sport, three key areas stand out. Find out what they are and the success factors for 2016.
Ever wonder why it can take one athlete a mere moment to make a change, yet for another athlete, it can feel like you’ve been striving all season to help them to take a small change on? If so, this is the article for you. One of the most satisfying moments as a coach is when an athlete successfully makes a change you’ve been working on. Find out how the best coaches have mastered helping their athletes take the steps of continuous improvement.
Sports Illustrated recently published an important article titled, ‘Is the era of abusive college coaches finally coming to an end?’. The article highlighted alarming issues with modern collegiate athletics based on surveys of 20,000 college athletes, as well as the latest research in psychophysiology, psychology, depression, health and abusive leadership. Read this article’s key findings here.
Culture is being discussed in sporting circles now more than ever. Why? Because it is a significant performance factor. If you have the “right” culture, your team is more likely to achieve sustainable success – not always winning, but always being in the hunt. If you have the “wrong” culture, your chances of any success, even fleeting success are almost zero. So how do you create the right sports team culture? In this article we discuss 10 Factors that Define Successful Sports Team Cultures. In its most useful description, culture is the “way we behave on this team”.
Bring on September! Here’s a bumper issue to catch you up on all you need to know. Let’s get started: WHAT’S YOUR ONE ELEMENT? The best teams know their one element…. Do you? Coaches, teams and individuals who enjoy sustained success can attribute their success to ONE critical technical and ONE critical non-technical element. Discover how to test for your team’s ONE Element, how to compete against your opposition’s, and why it can make the critical difference.
In 2014, Head Coach Tara Danielson led Stanford’s Women’s Field Hockey team to its most successful season in program history including their first ever NCAA Tournament victory. The season saw the Cardinal shatter previous program records and resulted in a host of individual honors for both players and Coach Danielson. So how does Tara set herself and her team apart? We caught up with her to find out.
Recapping Athlete Leadership and Coaching Resilience at the National Sports Leadership Conference. Here’s two statistics you’re sure to be interested in. 98% of coaches surveyed believe that having an effective team captain positively impacts their teams’ winning percentage. No surprise there. But what may surprise you is that the same research into Leadership Development in College Sport found just 37% of coaches believed their captains were prepared to handle the challenges of leadership.
Over the summer, Bo Hanson, Director of Athlete Assessments and David Hedlund, Assistant Professor of Sport Management at St. John’s University, New York presented at the National Coaching Conference in Morgantown. The presentation focused on David’s ‘Research into the Effectiveness of Developing Sport Coaches’ Self-Awareness using DISC Profiling’.
The best teams know their one element… do you? With Athlete Assessments we have now worked with over 22,000 individuals from over 40 different sports. This work has given me a unique vantage point to see the recurring patterns or themes that create success. When I see these patterns consistently creating success, year after year, the evidence certainly mounts. With this in mind, here is one of those concepts I have seen create consistent success.
Q&A with Stephanie Wheeler, Head Coach of the University of Illinois Women’s Wheelchair Basketball team and the USA Women’s Olympic team. When it comes to wheelchair basketball, few have experienced the success Stephanie Wheeler has in her extensive career as a player and now Head Coach. Recently, Coach Wheeler took the University of Illinois all the way to the Championship game. We caught up with Stephanie and asked her some questions about her approach to becoming successful in the Coaching environment.
A Personal Insight into David Zelenock’s Volleyball Program. Would you take on the challenge of turning around a team that has placed last in its conference three years in a row? Turning a team around is no easy task, yet just two years into his tenure, first-time Head Coach David Zelenock took Tennessee Tech’s Volleyball Program from 12th into the top four. We asked Coach Zelenock what has been key to this transformation.
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