Originally published on SeanLeBeauf.org
Above and beyond all the other skills that a coach needs to have, leadership skills may be the most important. Ultimately, your team or your athletes are not going to do what you tell them to do, they are going to do what they see you doing.
Being a coach requires leading the same type of disciplined lifestyle that you expect from your players. A disciplined lifestyle means making certain behaviors so habitual that you are incapable of doing anything else. Here are three steps to turning good practices into habits.
- Set your goals
Chances are you expect your players to be constantly improving. This means that you need to be in the habit of constantly improving yourself, which means always having a goal or set of goals you are striving toward. Once you achieve them, be sure to set new goals. No one is perfect in every area facet of life, so finding new goals to achieve shouldn’t come as too much of a challenge.
- Create triggers
One great way to turn something into an almost natural instinct is to create certain “triggers” that cause you to do something automatically. One great way to do this is to set an alarm on a smartwatch. If you force yourself to do something every time you hear the alarm, eventually, your body will begin to prepare itself before the alarm ever goes off.
Over time, it will become difficult to not do that activity every time you hear the alarm. Some other triggers might be laying out your gym clothes so they are the first thing you see every morning, for example. Eventually, just the sight of these clothes will put you into “workout mode.”
- Make it a habit
Most goals are not achieved quickly, yet too often people quit when they take too long. This is not the example you want to set for your players. One of the first things you will need to do is simply make a habit out of the activity you are striving to improve. For instance, if you want to work out every morning but find it difficult to get up and go to the gym, push yourself and silence those lethargic thoughts. The first step is to make just going to the gym a habit, and from there, you can expand into actually getting a good workout.
These positive habits carry over into your coaching career, and thus positively affect your players. Younger athletes will see the healthy habits you have created for yourself over time and strive to do the same. Work with them directly to teach them how to follow the aforementioned steps and create positive routines of their own.