Take a Stand Against Bullying – Become an Upstander

source: http://www.stompoutbullying.org/blog/take-stand-against-bullying-become-upstander/


Bullying Bystanders Become Upstanders

Many of us have been bystanders in difficult situations where we are uncertain of what action to take to help improve the outcome of a certain scenario. And while it is common to feel this way, there are steps you can take to create change.

Especially when it comes to bullying.

What is a bystander? Bystanders in bullying and cyberbullying situations are kids and teens who witness bullying and cyberbullying in action but do and say nothing to change or stop it.

If you stand by and watch, videotape or make the bullying incident go viral you are sending the message to the bully that what they are doing is acceptable. And it is NOT.

That also means you are a part of the problem and not the solution! Fear of retaliation or exclusion may be preventing you from taking steps to help an outsider, but there are small things you can do to support the victim and show the bully their behavior is not acceptable.

As an upstander you can support the bully victim by:

  • Not laughing
  • Not encouraging the bully in any way
  • Not participating
  • Not making a video and posting it online
  • Telling an adult

It can be scary to confront a bully, but it’s time to stand up and take action. Help the bully victim in any way you can – reaching out in friendship, inviting them to join you if they’re being isolated, or including them in your activities.

How to Prevent Bullying

Remember that there are strength in numbers! Every school and community has more kids who care than kids who bully. Becoming an upstander and actively speaking out against bullying takes courage, assertiveness, compassion and leadership.

To be an upstander, you must take action to:

  • Tell the bully to stop

  • Get others to stand up to the bully with you

  • Help the victim

  • Shift the focus and redirect the bully away from the victim

It takes courage to tell a friend who is bullying to stop, but you are ultimately doing them a huge favor by helping them stop hurtful behavior. Your friend, and others, may not realized they are bullying someone. By taking small steps like saying “that’s bullying”, “stop it now”, you can really open others eyes to the problem.

Be a leader in your social group and speak up – teaching others to recognize bullying and take steps to help STOMP Out Bullying!

Become a Teen Ambassador for STOMP Out Bullying

If you are an Upstander against bullying, have excellent grades, public speaking experience and are a leader in your school or community you could be a Teen Ambassador. Learn more about how to apply here.

The One Question All Coaches Should Ask Their Athletes

Source: http://changingthegameproject.com/one-question-coaches-ask-athletes/


Coaches, imagine if there was a way to gain insight, understanding, and connection with your athletes by asking a simple question? There is. let me explain how.

A few years back, I coached a talented, yet underperforming sixteen-year-old girl I will call Maddy. She was incredibly inconsistent in her play and often looked very depressed. She was definitely lacking in confidence. Her friends told me she was unsure whether to continue playing or not. After trying multiple ways to help her play the way I believed she was capable of, I called her in for a meeting.

I spent the first 30 minutes of our time together offering my thoughts and suggestions, but as I rambled on and on I could tell she was simply tuning out. Here I was, the highly experienced coach, offering my years of wisdom, and she wasn’t listening.

“Maddy, if you don’t start taking my advice, I can’t really help you. I don’t know what else to say,” I shrugged.

“It’s all good stuff coach, but none of that stuff helps me with my problem,” she replied.

“Really?” I exclaimed. “Then perhaps you better tell me what the problem really is, because I clearly am not helping right now.” I waited for her answer.

‘It’s my Dad,” she said. “Whenever you play me on his side of the field, he is constantly telling me what to do, where to be, when to be there, and I can hear him and see him getting angrier and angrier with me. I think I play a lot better when I play on the side where the teams sit, and away from the parents. At least that way I can’t hear him.”

I thought about it for a second, and she was right. She did seem to play better on the team side of the field. I could honor this request, without affecting the team much. “I can help with that Maddy, no problem at all. Why didn’t you ever say something about that before? I can certainly help you with your position, and more importantly, I can go and speak to your Dad. Why did you wait until now to tell me?”

“Because you never asked,” she said stone faced.

My heart sank. She was right. All season long, I watched this girl struggle with her play and her confidence, and all I did was get upset and frustrated with her. I tried to solve the problem, without ever knowing the problem. All I had to do was ask one simple question, but I never did.

“What is one thing you wish your coaches knew that would help us coach you better?”

It is the question that changes everything. Not only for the athletes but for us coaches too.

Kyle Schwarz is a third-grade teacher at Doull Elementary School in Denver, CO. A few years back, she decided to start asking this question of her students in order to get to know them better, and the responses blew her away.  As she details in her great book What I Wish My Teacher Knew, and as written about in this great article, the answers to this question open up a whole new level of insight from teacher to student, enabling a deeper connection, and the ability to teach the child, not simply the subject. As some kids wrote to her:

“I wish my teacher knew that my dad works two jobs and I don’t see him much.”

“I wish my teacher knew that I don’t have pencils at home to do my homework.”

“I wish my teacher knew that my dad got deported when I was 3 and I haven’t seen him in 6 years.”

“I wish my teacher knew that my family and I live in a shelter.”

“I wish my teacher knew that I am smarter than she thinks I am.”

Kyle Schwarz has certainly tapped into something here, not just for teachers but for coaches. The more we know about the kids we coach, the better we can serve them as both athletes and as people. When I read her book last year, my first thought was of Maddy and her situation with her father. I thought “why don’t coaches ask this same question from their athletes?”

Recently on our Way of Champions Podcast, Dr. Wade Gilbert, Jerry Lynch and I discussed how this year I started asking the kids I coach to finish the following sentence. We have also been suggesting to coaches at our workshops to have their athletes finish the following sentence, in writing, to be collected by the coach:

“One thing I wish my coaches knew about me that would help them coach me better is…”

The insight this exercise has given me to the kids I currently work with is unbelievable. Coaches who have done this with their teams have shared some of the responses they have received as well. Collectively, to protect anonymity, some of the things we have learned from our athletes are:

“I don’t like to be first in line to demonstrate new things. I usually don’t understand how to do things until I see them once, and it is kind of embarrassing when you ask me to go first.”

“When I make a mistake I would much rather you pull me out and tell me what to fix than yell it out in front of everyone.”

“I get really nervous when I am not playing well and my dad is at the game because he gets really upset in the car on the way home.”

“I don’t like to shoot because my old coach used to yell at me whenever I missed a shot, so now I prefer to pass.”

“I am sorry we don’t stay at the team hotel but my dad says we need to camp to save money.”

“I would practice more at home like you ask me to but last time I went to the park some older kids stole my ball.”

Coaches, the more our kids know how much we care, the more they will care how much we know. When we connect, when we show them respect and encouragement, when we communicate well, and when we listen to what they have to say, we build trust and let them know we care. The best way I have found to be a better listener is to start by asking good questions. And the best thing I have ever asked my players is for them to complete the magic sentence:

“One thing I wish my coach knew about me that would help him/her coach me better is…”

Please try this with your teams, and share with me what you learn. Don’t make the same mistake I made years ago with Maddy, assuming she didn’t care or was simply unteachable. Ask her! I am confident that it will have the same impact on your coaching as it did with mine. Good luck.

The “Power of Moments” in Youth Sports

Source: http://changingthegameproject.com/power-moments-youth-sports/

The Magic Castle Hotel is one of the top three rated hotels in Los Angeles. Of its nearly 3000 reviews, 93% rate it very good or excellent, putting it above properties such as The Four Seasons and the Ritz Carlton. Yet, as you flip through the photos online, you don’t see much that makes you think “I am staying there!” The pool is small, the furnishings are older, and the property isn’t even on the ocean. It charges high-end prices, but does not look like other properties in its category.

Yet year after year, people rate it as a top hotel in LA. Why?

According to the wonderful new book by brothers Chip and Dan Heath, The Power of Moments: Why Certain Moments have Extraordinary Impact, it is because the proprietors understand how to make a moment leave a lasting impression. Chip, a professor at Stanford, and Dan, a senior fellow at Duke, have written some fantastic books in the past, but this one is by far the best book I have read this year. As a coach, and as a father, I am acutely aware that every day I am leaving a lasting impact. I am making moments. Until reading this book, though, I simply did not realize how much control I had over when, where and how those moments happened. Now that I do, it has transformed my coaching.

According to the Heath brothers, when you go to the pool of The Magic Castle Hotel, you will see a big red phone on the wall. Pick it up, and a real, live person will answer “Hello, Popsicle Hotline.”

You place your order, and moments later a white-gloved server will appear poolside with your free popsicle, presented on a silver tray. They also deliver free snacks, DVDs and board games. They even do your laundry for free! In a nutshell, they deliver powerful, defining moments that people remember long after they’ve left the Magic Castle.

The Power of Moments explores why specific, brief experiences can stick with us, lift us, crush us, and alter us forever. It explains how these moments are dominated by four core elements: elevation, insight, pride, and connection. It explains which moments we are likely to remember, and which ones we forget. Why some birthdays matter, and why we tend to make resolutions on certain days. We innately seek meaning in moments and attach purpose to those that leave a mark on us.

Think about sports. How many moments does it create that are full of pride and positive emotion? How many difficult losses give an athlete great insight? And how do great teams create a connection so strong that 30 years later, you pick up right where you left off with your old teammates? Defining moments can change us forever. Sports is full of them, and every single coach has the ability to create these moments if he or she chooses to be intentional.

Coaches can change a life forever. Their influence is never neutral. And not always in positive ways. As I started writing this article, I got the following email from a friend:

“This weekend I witnessed a 9-year-old girl get to her breaking point and state that it isn’t fun and she doesn’t want to play soccer anymore. This has come after enduring a win at all cost mentality from the coaches as well as poor communication in the form of constant yelling and very little positive. On Sunday after missing a goal scoring chance, the coaches yelled and removed the player from the game. While crying she sprinted past the coaches without acknowledging them and jumped into her father’s arms. She begged her father to take her home!”

He continued:

“I know this because it is my daughter.”

A 9-year old girl playing in your average league, on your average day, leaves the field crying because of poorly trained adults, who call themselves coaches, that are consistently negative, constantly yelling, and remove a player from a game for making a mistake. In my book, that is a crime against a child.

She has been robbed of her opportunity to play sports. She has been cheated out of feeling the joy of being a youth athlete.

She has had her experience stolen from her by adults who, however well-intentioned, do not understand the power of moments. As Mike Wise of Sports Illustrated said at the Aspen Institute Project Play Summit 2017, “an untrained coach is a form of abuse”. These untrained adults have just created a moment that will stick with her forever.

Every athlete and former athlete I have ever met can recall a moment where a coach lifted them up or dragged them down. Every one of them can usually recall a moment where a parent stepped up at the exact right time and gave them belief, or said the wrong thing at the wrong time and destroyed their confidence and even love of a sport.

  • I will never forget the elation of winning a championship my senior year of high school, even though I missed the game with a broken leg.
  • I will never forget the dejection I felt, as I rehabbed that double leg fracture after six months in a cast, when a coach I respected called me a “pussy” for sitting out a drill because I was in pain.
  • I will never forget the pride I felt to get back on the field, over a year later, after rededicating myself to training by getting in the best shape of my life.
  • I will never forget how it felt to get a call from my college coach, congratulating me for my effort, and naming me team captain my senior year.

Sport has given me so many defining moments that have shaped my life, in both positive and negative ways. Whether I felt pride, connection, elevation, or insight, I can still picture every moment vividly, decades later. Those moments defined me and still guide me to this day.

It has made me realize the tremendous influence I have to create those moments for my athletes. When a new player joins your team, do you make her first day special, or just throw her into the mix? When a player makes a game-changing mistake, how do you handle it? Your reaction can change everything, not just in that game or that season, but for a lifetime

It makes me angry that other coaches either do not know this or do not care. We can no longer send coaches out woefully unprepared to realize their impact. We can no longer have young girls, running into dad’s arms, saying “take me home, I don’t want to play anymore” because some coach destroyed her love of the game.

I know that any coach who reads The Power of Moments will be forever changed. Let’s make this book a bestseller by getting the coaches in our lives a copy.

I just bought one for our whole staff.

You should too.

Performance is a Behavior, NOT an Outcome!

Source: Changing the Game Project


Last week I received the following email (edited for anonymity). We get calls and emails like this quite often from amazing, passionate coaches who are trying to make a difference. Take a read:

Dear John,

I’m currently a head football coach…I took over the program last January after being on staff for the previous 10 years. We had a great offseason and a solid summer. We started the season off with a come from behind victory. Everything was going well. However, these past 10 days have made me question everything. We had a below average week of practice last week and got crushed by our arch rival. Our best player got ejected for fighting and…his brother also received a personal foul and cursed me on the sideline when I tried to reason with him. We have had an equally poor week of practice this week.

Since I took over, my main concern has been trying to change the culture here. I am at a low socioeconomic urban school. Many of my players have no father figure in their life. Many of them are poor. Many of them don’t eat lunch. Many of them aren’t disciplined at home because their single mothers are just trying to survive. I knew all this coming in, so my main goal has been trying to get them to be better humans.

I have seen several of our kids grow on and off the field but I feel like we’re starting to slip back into the abyss. Our practices have been flat. The kids are starting to seem uninterested. They are so used to being the ugly duckling of our district and the perennial loser that I don’t think they know any better. It’s like they are okay with it because that’s the way it’s always been. What can I do to turn this around?”

Sincerely, Coach B

Wouldn’t you want a coach this dedicated to your kids to be their coach? I know I would. Coach B cares about the person, not the athlete. He sees sport as a vehicle that will give them the life skills to better their life situation. For him, it is not about the wins and losses, but the willingness to compete the right way. This is a great coach. So how can we help?

Recently I was listening to one of my favorite podcasts, “The Talent Equation” with Stuart Armstrong. Stuart’s guest was his coaching mentor, Mark Bennett, M.B.E. Mark is the founder of Performance Development Systems Coaching, and a mentor to high-performance and professional coaches across the globe. Mark is a former British Commandos trainer and originally developed his PDS system as a way to shape the behavior of elite soldiers. Since then he has worked with professional coaching staffs from the NBA, professional rugby, golf, and elite NCAA teams, shaping coaches so they can shape their athletes.

His wise words during the podcast were the exact advice I needed to pass onto Coach B:

Performance is a behavior, NOT an outcome.

We get so focused on scoreboards and standings that we lose sight of the foundational element of coaching: shaping behavior. When we get the behavior right, when we get our athletes to take ownership of the standards for each and every little thing they do, the magic happens.

Athletes rise to the standard.

They hold each other accountable.

They define what are acceptable levels of focus, effort, and execution.

They train more effectively.

Great results follow.

When you get the behavior right, the scoreboard starts to take care of itself. Athletes control the controllables, make more effective plays, and those small plays add up to big wins.

Coaches, first and foremost, we are shapers of behavior. When we get the behavior to the required and agreed upon standard, results start taking care of themselves. This is my advice to Coach B: focus on behavior first.

This seems simple, but in reality, most coaches do it backward. They focus first on the outcome and hope that the behavior will follow. They install new defenses and trick offensive plays, they teach tactics and technique, they up the fitness expectations, and then come game time, they roam the sidelines yelling “But we went over this in practice!”

They have no idea if learning took place. Just because we taught it, doesn’t mean they learned it. The coaches have no idea if the athletes were listening. And often, when the game gets tight and the pressure ramps up, their teams crumble under the stress of focusing on the scoreboard. They revert to the old norm. Players fight the opponent. They yell at officials. They argue with each other. They stop controlling the controllables, and eventually they lose regardless of talent.

Great coaches and elite athletes understand that performance is a behavior, not an outcome. It is doing the little things correctly, moment to moment, day after day. But how do we do this in our teams?

First, you must clearly define your core values, your standards, the list of “this is how we do things here.” In conjunction with your athletes (as we have written about here), you take the time and define the standards of effort, focus, execution, respect, humility, selflessness, and more. You allow your athletes to define who they want to be and how they want to do it. You get them to sign their names and commit to being the type of teammate described by those values. I recently did this work with a team I am coaching, here are our values:

Next, before every practice, you must get your athletes to own the level of performance – the behaviors – for the day. Mark Bennett recommends that his coaches have the athletes define what acceptable, unacceptable, and exceptional looks like for the chosen activity. This includes not only values based things such as effort and communication, but tactical and technical elements such as spacing, movement, speed of play, and whatever else you are trying to teach. The athletes define and own what is good enough, what is great, and most importantly, what is not good enough and warrants a stoppage of play and a reset.

Bennett challenges them by asking “how long can we sustain acceptable and exceptional,” thus giving the athletes a goal to shoot for. The activity starts and continues as long as the behavior level is acceptable or exceptional, and stops when the level becomes unacceptable. Usually, your players will overestimate how long is sustainable, but over time, with consistent reinforcement, their behavior – and thus their performance – starts to change. Most importantly,  the athletes own this process. They define the standards, they define acceptable behaviors, and when it all clicks, they identify unacceptable, call each other out on it, and hit the reset button and do it right.

Within your culture, you may have individuals that still do not buy into the behavior, even as the team as a whole progresses. This is the situation with the coach I wrote about above. In this case individual intervention is warranted. Sit the athlete down and follow these three steps:

  1. Have the athlete define the team values, and identify which one he or she is not adhering to. Many coaches do this in front of the team for the benefit of 1 or 2 kids. Do it individually so that the specific kids know you are speaking to them, and their teammates don’t think they are being called out for the actions of a few.
  2. Help the athlete see their behavior through other people’s’ eyes. “How do you think it makes your teammates feel when they are giving maximum effort and you are going through the motions?” “How do you think it makes your coaches feel when we rely on you as a leader and you disrespect your teammates?” Most kids never think of this.
  3. Help your athlete change by asking “Is that who you want to be?” If the answer is no (which it is 99% of the time) ask them “how can I help you change?” When you see their new behaviors, catch them being good. If you want the good behavior to continue, you have to acknowledge and reward it.

Sadly, you will from time to time have individuals that will not get on the bus, and you have to make a decision whether it is time to let them off and move on without them, regardless of talent. You must understand culture trumps talent in any environment, and even the most talented players will slowly destroy an entire culture if they are not a good fit and they are behaving counterintuitively to the cultural standards.

Finally, shaping behavior is not a sometime thing; it is an all time thing. As Bennett says “Changing behavior takes time, and the quickest way to change behavior and make progress is to do it every time you step on the field, not just once in awhile.” It is confusing for kids when failure to meet the standards is ignored by coaches time after time and then when coach is having a bad day, he loses it and yells at everyone for the same behavior that was OK the previous week. If it is not OK, we must say so. If we let it go today, we are saying that it is not really a standard. You condone what you do not confront. You must intentionally cultivate the right behaviors and you must intentionally confront the wrong ones.

Coaches, our team’s performance is a behavior, not an outcome. This is my advice to the coach who wrote us last week. How we play is shaped by our standards and our accountability. Identify your standards, agree upon them and define them with your team, and agree upon what happens when we fall below the standard. Hold everyone accountable, and get them to hold each other accountable. Identify the individuals that still don’t get it, and either get them to change their behavior or get them off the bus.

When do you do this?

Every. Single. Day.

When you realize that performance is a behavior, the result takes care of itself.

Good luck Coach B, and to all of you as well.

End the Hate: 20 Ways to Stand Up and Help Stomp Out Bullying

Source: Stop out bullying – http://www.stompoutbullying.org/blog/?p=530

By Toni Birdsong on Oct 11, 2016


Bullying Prevention

No one deserves to be bullied. October is National Bullying Prevention Awareness Month and the perfect time to pause and educate your family on specific ways to help stop bullying online and off. Thanks to the Stomp Out Bullying movement, this month is packed with a variety of awareness events and tools to help parents, schools, and young people put an end to this devastating social epidemic.

According to the group, one in six students say they’ve either been the victim of some form of bullying or, witnessed others being bullied. And one in eight students has experienced bigotry and name calling. But what kind of behavior is considered harmless teasing and what dips into the realm of bullying? Let’s take a look:

Different Types of Bullying

Physical Bullying: This is the most obvious form of intimidation and can consist of kicking, hitting, biting, pinching, hair pulling, and making threats. A bully may threaten to punch you if you don’t give up your money, your lunch, etc.

Verbal Bullying: Words hurt. Verbal bullying often accompanies physical behavior. This can include name calling, spreading rumors, and persistent teasing.

Emotional Intimidation: You don’t have to be insulted or hit to be bullied. Emotional intimidation is closely related to both physical and verbal bullying. A bully may deliberately exclude you from a group activity such as a party or school outing.

Racist Bullying: Making racial slurs, spray painting graffiti, mocking the victim’s cultural customs, and making offensive gestures, is all a part of the act of racial bullying.Bullying Prevention

Sexual Bullying: This type of bullying often gets minimized or overlooked but is a problem. Sexual bullying is unwanted physical contact or abusive comments.

Cyberbullying: Because of technology’s primary role in our culture, one of the most common kinds of bullying today is cyberbullying. This is when one or a group of kids or teens uses technology (emails, Web sites, social media, chat rooms, instant messaging and texting) to torment, threaten, harass, humiliate, embarrass or target another person or group of people.

Hazing: Hazing is a ritualistic test and a task involving harassment, abuse or humiliation used as a way of initiating a person into a gang, club, military organization or another group. This can include physical (sometimes violent) or mental (possibly degrading) practices.

Anti-Gay Bullying. Nine out of 10 LGBT students reported being harassed and bullied last year. Over one-third of LGBT students are physically assaulted at school because their sexual orientation and gender identity are different than those of heterosexual students. Over half of all students report hearing homophobic remarks often at school. More than 30% reported missing at least a day of school in the past month out of fear for their personal safety.

According to a 2014 McAfee study, cyberbullying is on the rise with 87% of youth having witnessed cyberbullying due to appearance (72%) race or religion (26%) and sexuality (22%). Pretty startling is this sad stat: 52% of teens have engaged in offline physical fights because of something that ignited online.

20 ways kids can help stomp out bullying:

According to Stomp Out Bullying, kids can have an enormous impact on the bullying crisis. Whether they know the person being bullied or not, kids can stop standing by and STAND UP! To safely support a victim:
1.Don’t laugh
2.Don’t encourage the bully in any way
3.Stay at a safe distance and help the target get away
4.Don’t become an “audience” for the bully
5.Reach out in friendship to a bullying victim
6.Help the victim in any way you can
7.Support the victim in private
8.If you notice someone being isolated from others, invite them to join you
9.Include the victim in some of your activities
10.Tell an adult if you see bullying or are bullied
11.Encourage your school to participate in Bullying and Cyberbullying Prevention
12.Start a peer mentoring group at school
13.Raise awareness of bullying and cyberbullying prevention in your community
14.Teach friends about being tolerant
15.Ask your school to set up a private ballot box where kids who are being bullied can report it anonymously
16.Get someone to sponsor a conflict resolution team
17.Encourage school administrators to adopt Internet-use policies that address online hate, harassment, and pornography.
18.Create events in your school and community to raise anti-bullying Bullying Preventionawareness

19.Create bullying and cyberbullying prevention posters
20.Stand up and do something when you hear someone making jokes or comments about: Someone’s sexual identity, someone’s family member, someone’s weight, someone’s choice of dress, someone’s skin color, someone’s accent, or someone’s disability

For more creative ideas on how to be part of the anti-bullying solution, go to stompoutbullying.org. If you are an educator, parent, or student, you are in a powerful position to make a significant impact on this serious social crisis.

Signs your child may be a victim of bullying:
1.Looks anxious or upset if he or she receives a new text or alert on their phone.
2.Frequently gets headaches, nausea, or a stress-related illness. He or she increasingly asks to stay home from school or come home early from school.
3.Trouble sleeping and an increase in nightmares.
4.Becomes withdrawn, moody, angry or unwilling to discuss topics dealing with school, friends, or other peers.
5.Deletes or deactivates favorite social networks like Instagram or Facebook.
6.Suddenly loses his or her steady group of friends and refuses to talk about the details or place blame.
7.Decline in grades or a loss of interest in favorite hobbies, sports, or school clubs and activities.
8.Uses negative, hopeless, or suicidal references and may describe feelings as being lonely.
9.May begin to act out feelings of helplessness and frustration by bullying siblings or younger children in family’s social circles.
10.Tends to “lose” things like lunch money, electronics, or other expensive things bullies tend to take.

What to do if someone is bullying you:

Tell someone. Encourage your child to talk to a trusted adult. Many tweens and teens keep quiet when being bullied which often leads to more bullying and communicates to others that she is fair game for bullying. Encourage your child to come to you at the first sign of bullying or conflict online. Monitor his or her online circles and assess the tone of her online conversations.

Save all evidence. Print copies of messages and websites. Use the save feature on instant messages and take screen shots of posts or comments on social networks.

Report the abuse to the online platform, to school and/or police. Report the cyberbully to the social network in the Help section. If the perpetrator is another student, share evidence with the school counselor. Report the cyberbullying to the police or cyber crime unit in your area if the cyberbullying contains threats, intimidation or sexual exploitation.

The best defense against cyberbullying is a good offense, and that means doing whatever it takes to build and maintain open and honest communication with your child. While regularly conversing may not prevent cyberbullying, it does help you both effectively face challenges—together—as they arise.

A Final Game of H-O-R-S-E

source: http://changingthegameproject.com/final-game-h-o-r-s-e/

A few years back, my wife Lauren and I took our kids back for one final visit to her childhood home in Fairport, NY. Her parents were preparing to sell their house and move to a warmer climate, and we took the opportunity to fly across the country to say some final goodbyes to the home they had lived in for nearly 40 years.

On our last afternoon, as the kids played with Grandma in the backyard and I was enjoying some quiet time, I glanced out the front window. There, I saw Lauren and her father Bruce, deeply engaged in conversation, shooting at their old driveway basketball hoop. They were playing HORSE, a game familiar to most where you get a letter if your opponent sinks a shot and you miss it. Once you get H-O-R-S-E you are out, and you lose bragging rights until the rematch happens.

As I watched them shoot, and rebound, and talk, and laugh, it hit me like a ton of bricks.

I was watching their final game of HORSE on that childhood basket, a basket that had seen thousands of those games over the previous decades.

I was witnessing a moment that had been relived countless times over the years. Bruce and Lauren were not talking about keeping your elbow in, or the release point of the shot. They were just being present. Connecting. Laughing. Even talking a little smack as they fought for the final set of bragging rights, on that final evening, in the driveway of their lives.

A game of HORSE at the end of the day was the way a father and his daughter carved out time for each other in their busy lives. For 40 years, it was their medium of connection, their place to put everything aside and be present for each other. It was beautiful.

When it comes to youth sports, we need more of that.

I recently saw this incredible video of 51-year-old Steve Peters, and his 80-year-old father Dennis, who still get together three or four times a week for a game of catch. It is their game of HORSE, their way of cutting through the clutter of the world and making time for each other. Watch it and try not to tear up. I know I did.

I teared up because it made me think of all those countless nights I had a catch with my dad. Just the two of us, out in the backyard, my dad tossing me grounders and pop flies, me imagining I was making that great catch in Yankee Stadium. I remember him inviting me into the outfield of his softball games between innings to throw a few, and always making time after the game to toss a few more.

I certainly do not remember every detail of those conversations we had, but one thing seems clear as day.

I never remember my Dad telling me “No, son, I don’t have time.”

My father was a business owner, a landlord, a coach, a husband, an avid gardener, and a guy who just loved to jump on his sailboat and head out into Long Island Sound. But he always found time to be a father first; to have a catch, to kick a ball, or play 9 holes at our local golf course.

As a father myself, living my own busy life now running a business, coaching teams, getting dinner on the table, and trying to be a good spouse, I really appreciate how tough it must have been for him to say “sure, grab our gloves and I will meet you out back” after a long day of work. How he probably had a dozen more pressing things to do, but he always chose me.

I only hope my kids feel the same about me, as I know I could do better.

I know there have been afternoons when my two kids wanted to go kick a ball, or shoot hoops, and I said no because I was too tired. Or I had to do something “important” like check the comments on our last Changing the Game Project Facebook post or see if that “important email” arrived.

WTF am I thinking? Has any dad, anywhere, ever said: “I regret all that time I spent tossing the baseball with my kid?”

I share this because in our fast-paced, outcome focused youth sports world these days, where we are led to believe that we must maximize every second of our young athletes lives to achieve that mythical “10,000 hours,” I wonder, are we finding enough time to play HORSE?

As we rush our kids from one private training session to their strength and conditioning coach, from one college showcase to the next on the opposite coast, are we making time to have a catch?

Do we ever take a break from the “Race to Nowhere in Youth Sports” to simply be present with our kids, to let them own the journey, and to simply connect? Do we switch off so they can too?

In a recent podcast I did with Jim Thompson, Founder of the Positive Coaching Alliance, he said something about coaching that really stuck with me: “Connection precedes commitment.”

Isn’t this true with our own kids as well? Before they commit to their journey of excellence, in whatever sport or activity they choose, isn’t it vital that they know we love them unconditionally, that we are connected, and that every moment does not have to exist simply for the pursuit of some far off, intangible extrinsic motivator like a scholarship, or a medal, or even a shot at the big leagues?

These days, my 11-year-old daughter Maggie likes to go out in the backyard and have me shoot soccer balls on her, or play 1v1. My 10-year-old son TJ and I love to hop on our bikes and ride down to the local 9 hole golf course and have a chipping contest, or simply see who makes the longest putt. The odds are astronomically small that any of this is in preparation for Maggie making a save in a World Cup Final, or TJ sinking the winning putt on the 18th hole at Augusta to win the Masters.

But the odds are quite high that the more time I find to putt and chip and shoot soccer and basketballs with my kids – and while doing it forget about developing great athletes and simply invest in building great people – the better the odds that they will trust me and be connected to me for those moments in life that really matter. No sporting outcome would be worth losing that.

We are led to believe that sport is all about the pursuit of glory, but the more I think about it, the longer I coach, and the more I watch my own kids play, the more I am convinced that this notion is wrong. The world’s most famous athletes are revered for winning, but ask them what they remember, and it’s rarely about the podium. They talk about connection.

Sport is about connection.

It is the connection between teammates working together to achieve a common goal, forged on the practice field, on the bus, at team meals, and even in the hotel pool.

It is the connection between athletes and their coaches who respect and encourage them, and coach the person, not the sport.

It is the connection between sports clubs, schools and parents, working together to ensure that sport is an extension of the things we value, not the antithesis.

And, most importantly, it is the connection between a dad and his son forged over 50 years of tossing a baseball.

It is the connection between a father and daughter, built night after night in a quiet driveway in upstate New York, playing HORSE until it is too dark to see.

It is the connection available to all of us, whether it be with our own kids or those we are entrusted to coach, if we just put aside our devices, our expectations, and our future hopes and dreams for those kids, and simply be present.

I know that I need to find more time to do this.

Google it! What Youth Sports Can Learn from the Tech Giant About Building Great Teams

source: http://changingthegameproject.com/google-coaches-can-learn-tech-giant-building-teams/

Headed into the 2004 Olympic Games, the Men’s USA Basketball team was 110-2 all-time. They were 24-0 since the introduction of the 1992 “Dream Team”(NBA-era).

The team consisted of current and future NBA stars. The best of the best. The greatest players from the greatest league in the world. LeBron James, Dwayne Wade, Carmelo Anthony, Allen Iverson, Tim Duncan, and others graced the roster.

These were the royalty of their time. It was a collection of the very best players placed on one team and set for another round of world dominance.

At the Olympics, they were embarrassed by Puerto Rico 92-73 and also lost to Lithuania and Argentina before they stumbled to a Bronze medal. By historical standards, it was a disaster.

How could a team so talented, selected from the world’s best league, from the country that invented basketball, not win gold?

On paper, this was another “dream team”. In reality, it was dubbed the “nightmare team”. They were the best we had, but somehow they could not function at their highest possible output. Instead of a perfect team, they were a perfect disaster. What happened?

The answer may be as simple as turning to Google…

Not in a Google search, but in some Google research. Team USA may have assembled the world’s top players on one “Dream Team” but the recipe for success calls for more than the most skilled.

Recently, Google wanted to know how to build the perfect team. They found the best and brightest researchers to cull through data and evaluate teams. They reviewed volumes of research. They also evaluated 180 Google teams through more than 200 interviews to discover the skills and traits of the best teams.

Google found 250 traits. They had a library of data collected and analyzed by sociologists, organizational psychologists, and statisticians. From this data one important revelation became clear: building the perfect team had little to do with finding the best people.

Let me repeat: building the perfect team had little to do with finding the best people.

In youth sports, we have a complex system of “selection” to choose our sports teams. We look for the best of the best and put them on one team. While we are, of course, trying to identify the best talent, what Project Aristotle teaches us is that collecting talent is not sufficient. Building great teams is not only about selecting the best people. Their research found that there are five ingredients that take talented groups of people from good to great. They are:

  1. Dependability – Every successful team is built on a foundation of trust and it can arise from doing what you said you would do on time and effectively. Great teams have dependable members. As a coach, do you deliver what you promise on time and in the way you promised? If you’re dependable, they’ll trust you and, in turn, learn from your example. As the New Zealand All Blacks would say (borrowing from Rudyard Kipling), “For the strength of the pack is the wolf and the strength of the wolf is the pack”. Players who work hard for each other, and trust and depend on each other build a formidable bond. Teach your players to depend on each other and to be dependable. Choosing players for skill and ignoring their dependability is the first step to missing the boat. All the talent in the world doesn’t matter if a player isn’t dependable and doesn’t build trust.
  2. Structure and Clarity – Great teams implement this ingredient with as much fervor and intentionality as they would a proper training regimen. If you want to create the perfect team be vigilant about working together to set very clearly defined goals. Be adamant about making sure everyone has clearly defined roles. Take two of the NBA dynasties – the Jordan Era Chicago Bulls and the Curry Era Golden State Warriors. One thing was obvious with both – everyone had a clearly defined role in order to achieve their collective goals. Dennis Rodman was not brought to the Bulls for his scoring acumen and he knew it. In fact, when Kerr and Jordan would put in extra work he’d join them to rebound. He said rebounding them taught him each shooter’s spin, roll, and bounce. He began to “know instinctively” where a ball would go based on who shot it. That’s a player with a clear role and he was staying in his lane and fulfilling his role.
  3. Meaning – Great teams have a “why,” a greater purpose. A very clear personal significance in work can engage, empower, compel, unite, and transform a group of people into an unstoppable unit. Work with your team to create significance. Help each member find a why. Why are they there? Why do they do what they do? Why are you there? If you want to help them discover meaning, be willing to be vulnerable and share your why. People who have a why are willing to endure the suffering. They’re willing to sacrifice. No matter how young, each kid has a reason to be there and you have to know it and help them embrace it. Here’s a hint: for every kid FUN will be a significant factor in why they play. They are there to have fun, so if you keep fun as a meaning for the group they will be fully engaged.
  4. Impact – Google wants their team members to work for something greater than themselves and to be vehement about supporting the greater good. In terms of your team, sometimes the impact has to do with the team itself as being greater than the single player. The All Blacks talk about being good ancestors and “planting trees you’ll never see”. All team members are focused on something greater than themselves. They want to extend the legacy passed to them and plant the seeds of that legacy for future generations. That’s impact. Great coaches have learned to use words like brotherhood and sisterhood to elicit this impact response. Youth coaches can also find a charity to support through an organization such as Go Play Better where they can set technical goals which trigger charity donations if achieved. There should always be a higher purpose than winning, especially in youth sports.
  5. Psychological Safety – This is the most important, and rarest ingredient of the perfect team. Creating a place of psychological safety requires us to be willing to provide our players a place to take risks, to have a voice, to ask judgement-free questions, and safe to be vulnerable. This is elusive and it my require you to model it first. If you want to create a psychologically safe environment, the easiest way is for the adults to be vulnerable. Open up, share, and be willing to be judged by your own players. Are you willing to risk mistakes in front or your athletes and admit when they happen? Are you willing to ask “stupid” questions or admit you don’t have all the answers? Are you capable of sharing something personal with your players so they know it’s okay to be open? When I taught kindergarten, we’d do a morning circle. The rules were simple, whoever had the talking stick could speak without judgment, laughter, ridicule, etc. During the year we asked questions, we shared dreams, we discussed vulnerable issues in our lives. It was a safe space for us. If a kindergarten class can do it, you can do it with your team.

The research is pretty clear: teams and leaders that instill and cultivate these five ingredients will see a profound impact on team performance, because they raise the standards of the collective. These standards are what is known as “group norms.” This is where creating the perfect team lies and may help us understand what happened to the US Olympic team in 2004.

Group norms are traditions, behavioral standards, unspoken rules, mantras, and habits of excellence that regulate the interactions and functioning of a team. These norms are often unspoken, yet understood through observation and interaction .

Some groups, for example the New Zealand All Blacks, have clearly stated norms. They give each new member a “black book” that contains the sayings, the advice, the rules, and the accepted values of the team. Players from generations before remind the new player what makes an All Black and how an All Black behaves. They even have spoken mantras to remind teammates of these norms – Sweep the sheds, for instance.

This is a team that best exemplifies the power of group norms. They win. Year in year out. They win as a byproduct of the team culture. Though talent plays a role, the All Blacks adhere to a strict code in order to maintain the team culture. It’s not about the hardware. It’s about the software. Not coincidentally, they possess all five of the secret ingredients.

Does this translate to youth sports? You bet it does.

You might argue that Google has technology teams, not a youth sports teams. True, but team dynamics, behavioral psychology, and sociology don’t know the difference. The underlying dynamics between the participants remain constant. Human interaction is human interaction no matter where it occurs.

Secondly, you might say that Google studied teams of adults. Yes, we shouldn’t treat children like mini-adults. Behavioral dynamics of adults may have gotten a little more nuanced, but they are still based on human emotion and response. We mature in our behaviors, but the emotional responses to stimuli are still similar whether we are 8 or 88. In addition, teams are living organisms. Whether that team is a group of adults or a group of children it will develop methods of interaction and behavioral patterns. Visit any Kindergarten classroom on the first day of school and then again on the last and you’ll find a clear “culture” developed. Children are capable of team culture just as much as adults. Human interaction is human interaction no matter the age.

Finally, people may argue if great teams require five primary ingredients, why have we never heard of this? The truth is we have, but many coaches never focus on the “soft skills” of team dynamics. We focus on the “hardware of the system” – the skills, talents and tactics of teams. These five ingredients have nothing to do with hardware, but here is the kicker: the magic is NOT in the hardware. The magic of success is in the software that governs how the hardware functions. Instilling these five dynamics makes all the Xs and Os that much more powerful.

It’s our obligation to choose and to develop teams that have these five ingredients as the foundation. We have focused way too long on the hardware of our teams, and like the 2004 USA Men’s Basketball team taught us, the best hardware on the planet cannot function if it doesn’t have good software installed. Go out and put some more time into your operating software. You will quickly see a difference.

WOC #20 Jim Thompson, Founder of the Positive Coaching Alliance, on How Connection Precedes Commitment in Leadership

source: http://changingthegameproject.com/woc-20-jim-thompson-founder-positive-coaching-alliance-connection-precedes-commitment-leadership/


What if there was a single component you could add to your coaching that would get total commitment from your players, create better relationships with your parents, and possibly help you win more games? Jim Thompson shares this component and more in the newest Way of Champions Podcast. He also discusses the knowledge, strategies, and advice he has learned from some of the world’s greatest coaches in his 20 year journey of “Developing Better Athletes, Better People”. Listen in to hear more.

Jim Thompson, founder and CEO of Positive Coaching Alliance, started PCA in 1998 to transform the culture of youth sports into a Development Zone™ with the goal to develop Better Athletes, Better People. PCA’s vision of youth sports as a Development Zone has attracted the support and involvement of many elite coaches, athletes, academics and business leaders in this country.
Jim received an MBA from Stanford where he was Director of the Public Management Program, named during his tenure as the nation’s top non-profit business management program. He has written nine books on youth sports including: Positive Coaching, The Double-Goal Coach, Shooting in the Dark, Elevating Your Game and Developing Better Athletes, Better People.

Subscribe to the Way of Champions Podcast on iTunes

WOC #19 Sam Walker, Best Selling Author of The Captain Class, The counterintuitive leadership qualities of the men and women who led the greatest teams of all time.

source: http://changingthegameproject.com/woc-19-sam-walker-best-selling-author-captain-class/

What do the Collingwood Magpies, the New Zealand All Blacks, Barcelona Football Club and the New York Yankees have in common? They’re all members of author Sam Walker’s list of the 16 greatest sports teams ever. It’s not the talent, the coach, or the strategy that made these teams great – it was the Captain. Syd Coventry, Richie McCaw, Yogi Bera, and Carles Puyol led these teams to eternal greatness, and what made them great captains is not what you think…

Sam Walker is The Wall Street Journal’s deputy editor for enterprise, the unit that directs the paper’s in-depth page-one features and investigative reporting projects. A former reporter, sports columnist, and sports editor, Walker founded the Journal’s prizewinning daily sports coverage in 2009.

In addition to The Captain Class, he is the author of Fantasyland, a bestselling account of his attempt to win America’s top fantasy baseball expert competition (of which he is a two-time champion).

Subscribe to the Way of Champions Podcast on iTunes

Show Notes
9:00 How Sam came up with his list of the World’s Greatest Teams
14:45 The Captain with the unconventional skill set
22:00 Why the best player is not the best candidate for captain
24:05 Who is the most important player on Barcelona according to Sam
30:00 Many times we bypass the “water carriers” for great players and miss the boat
39:30 Which “club” had two teams that made the top 16 greatest of all time?
46:00 The goal is Sustained Excellence not Winning Championships
48:30 Sam’s advice to coaches- Look for the charismatic connector
51:45 Sam’s advice to athletes – It’s all behavior. Study leader behaviors
58:00 Finding Sam

Finding Ryan
Website – By Sam Walker
Twitter – @SamWalkers
His Book on Amazon – The Captain Class

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