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How to Win

Five Things Great Coaches Know

The mood at a coaches clinic always excites me. People are there because they want to be, not because they have to be. They want to learn. They talk shop.

Right now I’m in Elmhurst, Ill., speaking to the Illinois Track and Cross Country Coaches Association. While here I’ve already met great coaches. One of them is Will Freeman, who has co-authored book called “Take the Lead.”

Even though it’s about coaching cross-country, “Take the Lead” offers life lessons for everyone.

In his introduction, Freeman writes “some truths I have learned along the way.” They are:

1. You will make mistakes. Accept that. Learn from them.
2. Because something is in print does not make it true.
3. When we fail, placing the blame on something or someone outside of ourselves is a way to rid us of the responsibility. But that does not rid us of the problem!
4. There is no right or wrong system of training runners, just a continuum ranging from successful to unsuccessful. Thinking critically can move you along that continuum to success.
5. Question what you know and what you learn. Don’t forget this, because this is what keeps us from getting stuck in dogmatic beliefs that keep us from gaining wisdom.

Those five items alone make “Take the Lead” worth reading.

While I’m here in the suburbs of Chicago, my friend Scott Illiano is in southern New Jersey taking notes at a baseball coaches clinic. He’ll be learning about motivation, teaching, practice planning, strategy, all kinds of things.

I’ll be eager to get the highlights from him, just as he will be intrigued by the five points listed above.

The journey of discovery should never end.

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TotalGamePlan offers Winner’s Workshops for schools, sports teams and businesses. The emphasis is on motivation, skill-building and teamwork. To bring a Winner’s Workshop to your group, just email coachtully@totalgameplan.com or call (973) 800-5836. To order a copy of “Ten Things Great Coaches Know,” click here.


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