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Adapt or Be A Victim?

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Matt French

As restaurants began to open up during the pandemic, my family and I ventured out to get dinner for three reasons: 1) we were tired of cooking, 2) we needed to get out of the house, 3) we wanted to support a local restaurant. My experience that night reminded me that we can either choose to be a victim or we can adapt.

This particular restaurant was a traditional dine-in restaurant, but had shifted most of their servers to become delivery drivers. While business wasn’t booming, they adapted their business model so that they could survive under these conditions. Many businesses are morphing and developing new business models that could forever change how they service their customers.

How does an adaptable business model apply to coaching?

I am a head high school baseball coach in Northern California. Unlike many other levels of baseball, our particular high school Section decided against making a season-ending decision. Instead, the Section punted the decision until early April to let things unfold and gain more information. I applaud the approach. Like Lloyd Christmas said “you telling me I got a chance?”

During my first week away from the players and baseball, I determined I had two options as a coach:

  1. Proceed like it was mid-May and season was complete
  2. Adapt and view the suspension as an opportunity to coach the student-athletes in an entirely new way

Adapt and Continue to Coach

We chose to adapt and continue to coach. This started with a mindset that we are trying to instill in all players in our high school program: despite not having games or physical practices, we are still an in-season program.

During that week off, I thought about how much time I had allocated daily to coaching high school. After field work, building practice plans or setting line-ups, social media promotions and communicating with players, families and administrators, I estimated I was investing at least four hours a day, five to six times per week. I determined that if I were to allocate a fraction of that daily time to the young men, I could continue to make a positive impact as a mentor and still have time to help homeschool my own two little guys.

Virtual Mentorship

To test out my thinking, I scheduled a 30-minute Zoom (free 40-minute web calls) web conference call with the varsity guys. To say that the experience was moving was an understatement. Just seeing their faces made me realize how much they missed each other and how much I missed them. They needed the interaction. And the reality is, I needed it too.

We kicked off the discussion asking each player to share two things:

  1. How they were doing
  2. Share one unique activity they had done with their time off

From there, we reviewed our team’s at-home, 4-Week Stay Sharp Plan. The plan consisted of a heavy emphasis on mental skill development utilizing Division I Baseball Coach, Greg Moore’s philosophies. Each player was tasked with setting three goals for the week on Monday morning including:

  1. What will you read to sharpen the mind?
  2. How will you train daily?
  3. How will you give back to family, friends or your community?

We also discussed the importance of evaluating their mental skills in the moment. To do this, each player was asked to assess their mental state at 12:00 PM every day in four main categories:

  1. Rate your current level of concentration skills
  2. Rate your current ability to focus in the moment
  3. Rate how well you are communicating
  4. Ask yourself if you are attacking or avoiding challenges

The final ask of our student-athletes was to reflect on their week on Sunday evening - the end of the seven-day cycle. This includes:

  1. Identify your successes for the week
  2. Identify your challenges

As a team, we determined that we would meet virtually weekly and hold one-on-one meetings between myself and the players throughout the week.

The reasoning for instituting a program like this was to help the student-athletes create a level of normalcy during this unique time. But more importantly, our goals are to enhance our student-athlete’s purpose, clarity and focus.

In full transparency, myself and Coach Greg Moore represent two of the three co-founders of Sevwins - a new app designed to transform coaches into mentors and help student-athletes live their best life. The processes outlined above make up the foundation of our new app.

We wrapped up the virtual meeting by reviewing the remaining parts of the 4-Week Stay Sharp Plan that focused on physical improvement including:

  • Training and conditioning
  • Mental preparation
  • Dynamics
  • 15-minute catch play
  • Defense fundamentals
  • Offense fundamentals

Everyone Has a Critical Choice: Adapt or Choose to be a Victim

The reality is, while most will follow the plan, not all will. At a minimum, we demonstrated that we care about their well-being and that we are available as coaches and mentors to help in any way possible. It’s up to the individual to choose to be a victim or adapt and take action.

As coaches, we face the same decision as everyone else on the planet - student-athletes, business owners and everyone else. If you are on the fence like I was last week, jump in and allocate your time to your student-athletes. They need mentorship now more than ever. Use the 4-Week Stay Sharp Plan, set up weekly virtual meetings and make a difference.

Make a Difference - Share Your Thoughts, Plans and What is Working for You

I will continue to post updates to how our team is progressing. Hopefully, we will learn new things we can share with other coaches in the same position. If you have ideas and experiences that you think will be valuable to the coaching community, share them here or on Twitter with @sevwins.

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