Thursday, August 28, 2014

Coach Mike Montgomery Knows Coaches

The St. Ignatius College Prep athletic department begins the school year with an impressive Kick Off meeting for its entire coaching staff. After welcoming the leaders of 67 different sports teams, John Mulkerrins, the Athletic Director moves through a robust list of business items. It's an exciting time and that sentiment was turned up a notch when we found out that the former men's basketball of Stanford, the Golden State Warriors and most recently Cal—Mike Montgomery—was the guest speaker.
Coach Montgomery is joined by the SI Athletic Dept Staff and Principal 
Montgomery arrived as you would expect him to— 45 minutes early and dressed impeccably well. No multi-media, no tech whatsoever for this "old school" coach. I looked for a legal note pad but he arrived hands free. I wondered what his message would be and how my colleagues would receive him. Why?

Coaches can be tough. Too often we hear the same things. "You have spend more time with these young people than anyone." We know the court, field and trail is not only an extension of the classroom,but  a place where we are called in a special way to further the school's mission. We got it. I've heard many times that "going to practice may be the most important thing an athlete does" in their day. Fact of the matter is, many coaches hope that is true.

Indeed, every program is different and each faces its own challenges, but that had no bearing on Montgomery's message. His words had meaning for all of us. Here are but a few of the take aways from a memorable evening. 

Old School
Create a winning mindset
When I was at Stanford, I asked my players "Who here was recruited by Arizona? UCLA? " The room fell silent. I asked them "So what are we going to do about that? We play each team two times in our conference. We decided we were going to work harder, lift more, and play to our strengths. I named the reality, and let them respond.

The importance of fundamentals
Don't assume that all of your athletes know the fundamentals of the game. You might need to reach (or reteach) them. But, it's worth the time and effort because it ensures that everyone can and will do the same thing; not their version of it.

A culture of accountability
Young people want to be held accountable. This starts with the coach but ideally, the coach creates a culture where your athlete are accountable to one another—the team. If an athlete came late to practice, eventually, we got to a place where they apologized to their team right away.

I would remind my athletes why something like being on time is so important. If I expect you to cut at the high post and you're one second slow a that's not just late. That's a turn over. It's easy to hold others and yourself accountable on that, but it's all related. 

An environment where it's a privilege to be an athlete.
It is. 

Better programs start at the top

The head coach has to have a clear vision for their program. Set objectives and let those be known. The head coach ought to hire all the other coaches so that all teams are running the same system.

Student-athlete:coach :: worker:boss.
How an athlete works with their coach in many ways prepares them for the work force. It's good for young people to get out there and be responsible to a person, like a coach, to whom they are accountable.

Coaching is not about you, it's about your kids.
Enough said.

Be yourself. Be fair. Be firm. Be consistent. Be knowledgable about your sport.

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