Successful Coaching Tips by Teri McKeever (2003)


Published


Thank you very much, I appreciate at 4 o’clock that you all would still be up and – not up I guess, but nothing better to do in beautiful San Diego. I grew up in San Diego or Escondido which is north of here so this is a place I am incredibly proud of and I am so glad that ASCA has chosen to come back down to this area because it is going home for me so I appreciate that. This afternoon I am going to talk about successful coaching tips and I came up with this thought because there are a lot of things I am going to share with you that I have done that probably didn’t work so well. And, it is not going to be quite as entertaining as “” was this morning with that I haven’t yet smashed my fist through a door or had to have my toe operated on. But I have had other things that I have done that have not been so smart that if maybe I had heard someone say it maybe I would have tried it a different way or maybe there is something that I say or experience that I have had that you can relate to and it just helps kind of validate it.

 

What coming to these clinics do for me and in going to the different talks I had this realization Wednesday night when I was listening to Richard talk; I was thinking Richard just said a lot of things that I am going to say on Friday afternoon.  Or you hear Bill talk or other people and it is just – you are getting some of the same themes and I think that’s what has been empowering for me just to hear that maybe I am on the right track and so today, hopefully you will walk out of here and you think maybe I am on the right track or maybe that lady is crazy or I couldn’t do it like that or that wouldn’t work for me and that again is what I am hoping is going to happen for you.

 

I have 15 points/thoughts/concepts that I just want to talk about. The first one is, I was thinking about this, I don’t know if believe in yourself comes first and then you are able to be yourself or once you are comfortable with yourself you start believing in yourself. I know for me that the coach I was at Fresno State, I was really comfortable and confident with that person. We were a Division I. we had broke all the school records. We are fourth in the conference. It was the best we had ever done. I got conference coach of the year and then I got the job at Berkley and I thought because now I am coaching at Cal Berkley I need to be a different person. I need to be more like Nort. I need to be more like Richard Quick. I need to be more like Mark Schubert because that is now who I am competing with and when I had finally gotten comfortable in my skin and these amazing things have happened to me with great athletes and you know them achieving things and us all enjoying an experience. It has mainly been because I finally figured out the only think I have control over and that I can influence is to be the best Teri McKeever and so I am going to share a lot of things. They are not going to apply to every one of you. I hope there is not another Teri McKeever out there, but – for me and for you – because I think that it is just really, really about being yourself.  You know, it is like on your team if I try to make every single girl on the team Natalie Coughlin and we compared or they compared themselves to the standard Natalie has, 27 girls are going to walk out of there feeling like crap and that is not what this is about. You know it wasn’t about me being funnier.  I had an assistant coach that was very, very out there, very engaging, told jokes. I mean, for three, four or five years I tried to be just as funny. Well, that is just not in my nature. I am just not a funny person like that.  And it didn’t feel right for me and more importantly the team picked up on that and so I just think this is such a powerful concept or once you really look in the mirror and that person that you see staring back at you – you like, you love, you appreciate, you respect – it is awesome and I can honestly say that it has only probably been about a year and a half that I truly love the person I see in the mirror and that is what I think is important too, it is a work in progress.  I love her today, but if I just stay the same I am not going to love her a year from now because I am not doing myself justice by continuing to challenge and grow and be the best that I can be. I think the saddest thing that I ever hear people say is the college years is the best years of your life. That is a pretty shitty way to go that the next fifty years are downhill.  I mean we all have friends. We have people we might work with that they honestly believe that. You know, Bruce Springsteen’s song Glory Days, I mean, that is so perfect, sitting around the bar drinking about and celebrating their high school days and I think there are a lot of people that do that and that just doesn’t work for me or hasn’t worked for me.

 

The second thing. Get help when you need it and stay open minded and seek out other experts. My dream was that I wanted to be a head coach in the PAC 10 conference. I had been a student athlete at USC. As I mentioned I am a native Californian. How awesome is that going to be? I don’t have to leave the state of California. I can go to the PAC 10. I can be a head coach. There are still days that I sit at Memorial Stadium in Berkley and I go, damn, I am the head coach at UC Berkley.  That is pretty darn cool. You know just its like this realization. That was my goal. One of the reasons I went is I wanted the opportunity to work with Nort and be around who I consider one of the greatest minds of swimming. Well that was my goal. I bet Nort doesn’t know that because for three or four years all I said to Nort was hello because I didn’t want Nort to know that I didn’t know everything and I think Nort really taught me that. Here is a man that continually is asking questions. I love the summer and I have told Nort this; he should take the summers off and just write books because he gets a new book almost every day or new article and thankfully he copies it and he slips it underneath my door if he doesn’t show it to me and it is just awesome. And Nort, I hope you know, how much I appreciate that, I feel like I wasted that time not being confident enough in my own self to ask him questions and that not having the answer and being able to even say to your athletes, I don’t know, I’ll go check that out. The way I believed about a stroke or a training philosophy two years ago, four years ago, five years ago – it is different. Sometimes I want to go back to those first people I coached at Fresno State and I just want to go, I am sorry. But at the time that is what I, finally have realized that at the time that is what I believed was true and I was doing the best that I could so I don’t have any things to apologize for in that regard.

 

I think too, one thing coaching a Natalie or a Stacy, or Haley has taught me is that you owe that to those people. You owe it to the exceptional world-class elite athlete that has those dreams and aspirations – you owe it to them to seek out other expertise. I called Richard Quick. Stanford and Cal don’t like each other very much.  But if I don’t have experience with dealing with the media, going into an Olympic year. A photographer is telling me they need five hours to take a picture of Natalie and I like what are you talking about? I mean, how do you manage that? Apparently they can’t share pictures and so it has been done and each magazine likes their own photographer and I am like, what is going on? If I don’t understand this somehow I am going to be swallowed up by this and more importantly, Natalie is going to be swallowed up by it. Richard went to lunch with me and I asked, what did you do with Jenny? What did you do with Summer? What was it like with Janet? Just asking him questions because I am sure he made mistakes along the way that maybe fortunately he was willing to share those with me and hopefully I will not make the same mistakes. I will just make new ones and then we will go on but I think that is real important. You all being here and coming to a clinic is a way of just seeking out other experts. I said this to Dave Salo earlier today and I talked to my mom on the phone and where I am with this right now is I am having a real struggle with the fact that now people are asking me questions. It’s like no, no, no – that is not how it works, okay?  I get to ask you questions. I am having a hard time realizing that there might be fifty people in the room that would want to know what I have to say. That’s still not sort of registering and it will probably take a little while for me to process that but it is something that I am hopefully going to get more comfortable with and I appreciate and I enjoy, but it catches me off guard a lot of times and I have to kind of go whoa. So, we will see.

Okay – next one. Surround yourself and hire others that you respect and you enjoy being around. They are an extension of you and your program. I just think this is really key and it is not just the people you hire. If you are an assistant it is the person you work for. Do you have the same value systems? Are you coaching for the same reasons? There are 50+ of us in the room here and there are 50 different definitions of why we are coaching. What is going to make us be fulfilled or when we leave the deck each day make it worth it? The choices that we all have in our lives we make them for different reasons and I think you need to work with somebody that you at least understand that or you are on the same page. I think it goes as far as even people that you are inviting into your program. Being in a university setting I have the opportunity that you know there is a strength coach. I need to make sure that I respect and appreciate what the weight coach is doing and they respect what I am doing. We are communicating. We are an extension of each other because even something very subtle on my part is going to affect the team’s relationship with that person and I think that is real important.

 

As I said, earlier yesterday I have never been anything but a college coach so I don’t have the experience of working for a board or anything like that. I say this to recruits, I am incredibly proud that I work at a university where if you come and you swim the worst thing that is going to happen to you is that you are going to get a degree from UC Berkley. The number one public university in the U.S.  That is the worst thing.  Not that you are going to get one, you are going to get the opportunity to earn one. But, that is a package. That is a package that I am really proud of. I don’t have to say something that doesn’t feel right to me to sell my product and recognizing that product. When that recruit doesn’t come to Berkley it is really probably not about me, it is about them and them believing in a place that is comfortable for them and an extension of their values.

 

Okay – be adaptable. Accept change as a way of life. Has anybody read the book “Who Moved My Cheese”? I just think that is an awesome book. There is a video that they use a lot in corporations, about a 50-minute video because you sometimes can’t get your team to read the book. I think this is the key to not only a student athlete coming into a new program, whether it be collegiate or whatever, I think that is the key to just success in life.  Is that things are going to be changing. Do you have the ability to go with the flow?  We have this rule when we travel. You know sometimes it takes an hour and a half to get three or four vans. Does anybody notice that? Any team ask them when you go into the rental car abyss when are you coming out?  What do you guys do there? It takes a long time sometimes. They have just got to sit there and sort of be patient.  How many times have you been in a lineup situation and you got to change something because it is not working? I have to make a change if it is going to work or if you want a chance to win or whatever. I think sometimes you have to force those changes on people. They have got to practice adapting to that change. I do this a lot with cyclical or five rounds of something and you do the first round and you sort of see what it is and then you change it because it is not really what you are looking for. Some kids do not do very well – but you said XYZ, well xyz just got changed and you need to be able to adapt to that.

 

I don’t think life is black and white. I think it is gray – in various shades of gray and those of us that travel through those shades of gray more slow like tend to be more acceptable or adaptable, more happy, more successful.  I also think that kind of comes with emotional maturity.  Sometimes when you are 18 and you are on your own for the first time and mom has done your laundry and your previous coach has picked up your kickboard for you whole life they do not do real well when the next person doesn’t do it and I think as we get older we just sort of accept that maybe or we acknowledge it and then it is a little bit easier to handle.

 

The next one – coach the total person.  I don’t think just the swimmer shows up for workout. I think a person – a human being that swims, that just flunked an exam, that just broke up with her boyfriend whose parents are going through a divorce, whose roommate just kept him up all night – that person shows up for practice and for me I have been most successful when I have understood that total person better and I have made a point to do it. I have this saying that “I don’t think people care what you know until you know that you care.”  Okay, so they don’t give a crap what I know about swimming until somehow at some level they know that I care about them as a human being. I really believe that and I think that sums up with time.  I know when Natalie enrolled as a I didn’t say one technical thing for at least four to five months. Not once because I really felt that it was much more important to develop our relationship first and then we were going to move on to a coach/swimmer relationship. It is just a basic relationship of how each other works, how you operate, and I think that is really, really important with all of them. You have 27 different people and it takes time, but I mentioned this yesterday I just think, personally for me, that is where the reward is of the coaching. That is the art of coaching. I will write workouts, sometimes I don’t even write workouts and then you sort of know what you want to do, or I know what I want to do.  And then as I am kind of going through it, it changes because of something I saw when they walked in the door, maybe something I didn’t see. Just their body language. Whatever it is I think it is important. I think it is a gift that I have. I don’t think that everybody sees it maybe as easily. I don’t think it is easy for me but I think it is something that I always enjoyed and so it has always been important to me. It was definitely something at Fresno that I embraced. And then when I moved to CAL and was coaching better swimmers, that is not as important. I need to prove to them that I have gone to a clinic. I have the formula and, therefore, we will be successful, and that didn’t work very well for a number of years.  That’s who I am, coaching the whole person so.

 

Hold others accountable. I mentioned this yesterday as being a core philosophy or belief of mine. How many of you have an athlete that says you know they want to make nationals. And then they don’t come to three morning all year, or have five mornings and they only show up two. And they do that for a little while and then the family vacation is more important or the dance is more important. I am not saying those things are not more important, but I think your job is then to hold them accountable. You might not be good enough to miss three practices, go to your dance, miss another one, go on your two week family vacation and not train and make nationals and you know what?

 

Some of them are so at that point then I think it goes into one of my other things is to just expect the best out of people. But I think you need to get really clear on what their goals and their desires are and coach to that. When I see conflict in someone’s behavior with what they say they want to do, I have tried to call them on that as soon as I see it is not working real well. I think that is hard to do. It is hard for me to do anyways and something I continually work with.  I came down here Wednesday morning, and Wednesday morning at practice I had been having this ongoing turmoil within myself over things that one of my athletes had said to me through her teammates or club coach and they were coming and saying it back to me and it was just eating me up. I wasn’t sleeping – I hope I am not the only one that cannot sleep when someone rags on you.  I was like, you know what? I need to say something. I need to tell her that that action is not in line with what is expected on the team. The longer I don’t say anything, the longer I am telling her it is okay. I was as uncomfortable doing that conversation with her as getting up in front of people because it is hard to have that type of conversation, but I think that is what our job and responsibility is. I was shocked about two years ago – I asked my team what the golden rule is – has anyone heard of the golden rule?  They didn’t know what it was – none of them knew what I meant.  I think I try to lead my life by,  “ do unto others as you would want others to do unto you” that was sort of a new concept which sort of scared me a little bit. I had made an assumption that of course, everyone knows what that is, but they didn’t know what that was and we talked. I had to go back then and talk about what that looked like – what it was going to look like in our team situation.  I know one thing Cathy taught me is that you treat people how to treat you. So you treat people how you want to be treated.  I was letting my athletes just treat me a lot of different ways. Their needs were more important than mine and what I have tried to do is to tell them or show them that I don’t want to deal with your homework when I am dealing with the 25 other people on the team or your crisis is not more important than workout.  There is a time for that but you have got to teach them when it is. And that is just holding someone accountable to something bigger than himself or herself.

 

I don’t know exactly what the statistics are or the age, but sort of that “Me” time in everyone’s life, isn’t it like 16-24. Where they have done all these studies that people see the world with, it’s just about me. So I think what we need to do is teach them it is just not about them. Holding others accountable too. In this I would consider just acknowledging other people, acknowledging what your teammates or your team members are doing for the greater cause of the team. Acknowledging the band. I know that we had asked the band to come to our swim meets and they did. We wrote them a thank you, all the girls signed it. I gave it to the band director. The next year when I went back to give him the schedule of when the meets were and to see if he would be able to come.  He goes, “I remember you guys – you are the only ones ever that have ever thanked me for coming, of course we will be there.” Of course I asked him the day before because it was kind of down on the list and I forgot. I was like oh my God, how is the band going to come if you don’t ask them. But the fact that as a group my team knows now they come and remind me. Teri, we haven’t done the thank you note for so and so. I think that is something. I told someone last night there is a young lady on my team that during her recruiting trip she said thank you to me for everything and I thought, that girl is going to come and swim with me.  I viewed that as the way she leads her life. She is going to acknowledge and appreciate the people around her and that is the type of person I want to be around and it is going to make the group stronger and more productive.

 

Teach and over-teach fundamentals and the idea of playing your winners. I alluded to this a little bit yesterday. I think it is really easy to over-coach. Has anybody gone to one of these things and gone home and you are going to do the latest and greatest and it just falls flat on its face?  I think I really do that with freshmen. Here is hopefully the sponge and you just want to give them everything right out at the beginning.  Most people cannot deal with everything right at the beginning so I think for me I have had to go to fundamentals – drilling. There are so many drills out there and I was getting myself confused on all of these different types of drills and what they were called and what you call them is different than what their club coach called them or their teammates calling them. We just have a core group of drills that I think are the best way to work on some of the fundamental concepts that I think are important and we sort of build off that. It doesn’t mean that they don’t get to do their own drills sometimes, but I think it is important to just have that basis and I think that they need to understand that those drills and swimming fast build on top of each other It is not you like master streamlining, therefore, streamlining goes out the door and now you are going to work on your breathing pattern and then when you get the breathing pattern, you forget that you have to still streamline and your breathing pattern and you are going to work on the pitch of your hand as you enter. A lot of them I think “I know how to do that”. Well I know. I know that Natalie knows how to kick. I know she knows that bodyline is important to her, but I don’t think I am doing a good job if we don’t visit that regularly and visit it in different types of stress. I think that is what is really, really important and can be really empowering is drilling. My experience has been a lot of women have come into the program and “how much do you do drilling?” Or that the first three weeks are technique and then you get to training.

 

I think you have to do technique every single day and that technique drills are done slow, they are done fast, they are done in combination with kicking, they are done in combination with swimming and its all mixed up in there so they have all these variety of experiences and that if you are working on something then work on that and make it great. Is Kelly’s coach here? Helen Silver came into our program last year and I thought she was pretty good under water and so you know, you got Natalie and Haley and Natalie is doing her 12 kicks and I am like well, Helen can keep up with them kicking – she probably needs to stay under that long. I finally figured out about December or so that really was not in Helen’s best interest. Her best interest was to go maybe six or seven kicks and then she was hitting the surface at a higher tempo or at a higher velocity and then that just went down the pool. By the time she was doing the 10, or 11, 12 by the time she got up to the top, I mean she might as well just have stopped and then gone again. I fell into the trap well, she can kick with those guys, therefore she should be able t do the same thing and I think you have got to be definitely careful in that. I see a lot of people that want to do their dolphin kick off the freestyle or as they go up into the freestyle. Okay, lets dive in and do a good old dolphin kick with your knees bent – that is really going to work well in a sprint freestyle race in particular, right? So you got to sort of be careful what you ask each person to do and each person’s winners I think are different.

 

The next one – challenge of others to be their best and expect success. I think that you need to be clear in what your goals and your expectations are.  I want to do better. If some athlete comes to me and they say “my goal is I want to have fun”. Okay, it is not my job to say that is a bad goal, but I need to know then what is fun?  I need to get more clear on how will you know at the end of the season that you had fun?  So, lets write that down so that at the end we can decide if you had fun, therefore it was a successful year and I think sometimes people set unrealistic goals and sometimes they set too safe a goal and what our job is to find those realistic expectations and then give them the opportunity to experience that on a regular basis. I know that if I meet with the women, and ask them, give me three things you want to work on? I bet 8 out of 10 will tell me they want to work on their confidence.  Okay? And I think that is an area that sports can help you with and it goes back to being yourself, believing in yourself. I think it is just going back and finding out what they expect. What is going to make them feel successful and then sticking to that?

 

How many of you have had an athlete that at the beginning of the season they said that they wanted to – I am going to give you an example. I had a freshman come in and say she wanted to do all her best times. So she went 4:54 to 4:48, 16:45 to 16:37, and then she was 4:24 to 4:21 and at PAC Ten probably by far the most emotional swim for the team. If you went around the group and said what was the highlight of the meet, I mean, Natalie had broken an American record – nobody said that. It was this girl’s 500 freestyle and, but what she did is she just missed making NCAAs – she was the last one not to make it so she was disappointed, and I was like no, no, no – we don’t get to change the rules here of what your definition of success was before. If we had started at the beginning and I had told you were going to go those times would you have felt successful? And her answer was yes. I said, then allow yourself to be successful. I think you have to sort of just smack them in the face with every now and then.

 

I found this real good book last year when we were traveling called “Bringing out the Best in others” and the guys name is Tom Collin or Collnan, but it is “Bringing out the best in others”, and there was so much great stuff there about appropriate feedback and accountability. Obviously all these things tie into each other, but the premise of the book, the most I got out of it, was just that giving someone no feedback was worse than even telling them that it was terrible. You know it kind of goes like playing your winners. I believe that when I wanted to critique something I had to do the sandwich. I had to give them a positive and then I had to tell then what I wanted to change and then I was supposed to finish it with a positive because I had learned that in one of my education classes. What this book talks about is that you need to give feedback in an appropriate timeframe. So if you are talking about their race, don’t tell them the start was awesome and that last or the second wall wasn’t very good. And then you know the first girl is out of the dive was exceptional too.  Okay, I just made a sandwich, but I just went from the beginning of the race to the middle of the race back to the beginning of it because the sandwich was more important than helping them go through the whole process of the swim or whatever. It is a great book and it really relates to parenting a lot. I think Garland said this to me earlier in the week I mean, if you want to find, seeking out experts, it doesn’t have to be other people but you know the business section is an amazing place for knowledge. You know the parenting section is an amazing place for information on team building. I remember I bought the 7 highly effective habits of an effective family and used that all in the team. I worked through that with my team so there are lots of different ways to get that information.

 

This is a little dramatic, but communication here is my next one and I put it down three times just to remind me that there are numerous ways that communication can be done and effectively and ineffectively. I think we all know some people respond to verbal communication. I hope I am not the only coach in America that has to repeat a set.  “Whats warm-up? Whats warm-up?” Its like – listen – ask somebody else. Listening as an art is like non-existent now. I guess you don’t have to listen to your computer screen or your game boy or whatever. Sometimes we think communication is delivering information. I think communication a lot of times is listening. One of the things verbally that I have had to do is when I meet with someone and a lot of times I might have my assistant there so that is sometimes a good safety guard. Because if we get into he said, she said, she said – maybe there is some issues going on – it is good to have somebody sitting there to backup what you said and I always let the athlete bring in someone for them. She gets to bring someone in to support her and hear the message. But when you are talking to someone I always ask someone to tell me what I just said, because I will bet if you asked, at least my experience, when we talk about something I think I have been very clear because I am a good communicator – I say, “well what did I just say?”  Maybe at least 60-70% of the time what they picked up on was like – I mean, are you kidding me?  That is what you got out of that you know? And you have to but that is what they got so it doesn’t make them wrong. But you I think really need to check in with what they heard.

 

I talked about this yesterday – communicating within each other. I mean you have got to teach people how to communicate within the team. What is an appropriate way to resolve conflicts? I have brought in different people, groups, professionals to just do a weekend work shop on that in itself and alleviate a lot of issues, with your assistant coaches.  My communication style and my assistant’s communication style are not the same but we need to understand each other so that we can be most effective. Non-verbal communication. I just said this last week to my team. If you don’t look at me – you will see me go ballistic.  This does not do real well with me. When I talk to a recruit and I might meet them for the first time and they go like this or like this a lot of times, hey I just know that sort of bugs me and it is a red flag for me. I think it is important that when you are communicating that you look somebody in the eye. That non-verbal stuff. The way you stand. If you are at workout and you are like this and you are going “come on pick it up”, I don’t think too many people are really going to respond to that. They might, but you know I personally wouldn’t and I think that we need to be just conscious of how important that is. Someone said this yesterday you are reading 27 and 27 of them are figuring out where you are and that is so true.  Sometimes I wish they could just not figure me out. “Like can you, Teri, just hide it a little better”? Like how come they know that I really don’t want to be here this morning, or that I am really tired or whatever it is and its – that is when you just got to you know you got to act as if and try to be a better actress I guess.

 

With written communication one of the things – I just brought one example that has worked for me. I make or request that the freshmen and the sophomore keep a journal for the first eight weeks of the season and it is just one page per week and it is your goals for the week – you athletic goals and your academic goals and every day it says my training success. What was your training success in the water and dry land?  I don’t them to regurgitate the workout back to me, I know what that was. What did you take from that workout that is moving you toward your goal? It could be I held my under waters, I held blah, blah, blah.  Nothing?  Then I think you got to go back and you have to find out why someone thinks nothing or you got to teach him or her how that when you are not swimming fast there are still opportunities to be successful. I also have on here dry land activities – we do a lot of dry land in our program and if someone – my experience was when people are coming into the program and they were not maybe swimming as much volume as they had before they were very, very concerned about that, but when I asked them to write down that they were running for thirty minutes, that they were doing spin for thirty minutes. There was a medicine ball routine and a circuit and they were doing lunges with their hands on you know, X amount of sit-ups. They were running the stairs. I mean when you start writing that down it is a little bit of a red light like oh, I am doing things that are helping me in the pool so we have that on there. Your outside stresses, I have an exam coming up, I am homesick, and my boyfriend broke up with me. Whatever it is, maybe you don’t want to come up and go Teri, I flunked my exam, especially if you are a freshman or sophomore and you know we are not as familiar with each other so if I write it there, I drop it by her bag Monday morning, she reads it in a quiet place and then when she gives it back to me it wont be quite as bad and hopefully some day they are going to be able to just come in the office and say, gee I need some help, I am not doing well in that class you know?

 

The other thing I have on here is sleep hours because a lot of times people when they are 18 and you are on your own and there is lots of fun stuff in the dorms, you are not sleeping very well, or enough to really be successful, so there are ways of doing that. The other thing that we have done for maybe about the last 8-9 years is we have a playbook. You know the football team has a playbook. And it is just kind of you know you are going to learn the play book for this is the way the program works. These little binders are .57 at Office Depot. We have a team info, a calendar, a result, handout and miscellaneous and just at the beginning I put quotes or the season and during team info. We have a cell phone policy.  Okay, all your cell phones going on – no, no, no.  You cannot bring a cell phone to a meeting. You cannot bring your cell phone when we are having a team dinner. I don’t want to see you talking on your cell phone when we are trying to have a dual meet and beat Stamford. I can remember when answering machines first came and I am making recruiting calls and I am not talking to those things. I am not going to talk to an answering machine well you know if I don’t talk to an answering machine now, no one is ever going to know I am doing anything. So, now you get an answering machine, Yes, I can leave a message. They know I called and I don’t have to talk to them.  How many college coaches love the answering machine, okay?  Well, things change and just results. You know, what has made NCAAs?  What is the ten best times in Cal history? What are our dual meet records? What are our school records? Just history about the program and then as the year goes on I give out handouts. I give out splits. I mean, ideally you would be able to put this in here and you would have my freshman year at Cal Berkley.

 

I am a realist who knows that maybe one out of the 27 could show me a book that had everything it was into it, but I try when I give out hand outs, there are already three punched holes. You know I am probably making it so easy they are just – oh whatever. But it is a way I think to communicate. It is a way to have things written down again to just be clear so that nobody can ever say they didn’t know. You know, I didn’t know that was what was expected of me and I think you need to be careful that you are not too black and white and you are not you know they need to also understand that there are rules and expectations But those also change according to unusual circumstances and they have got to trust that you are going to make the situation or the call that is in the best situation for them and the program. The other thing too that I put down here is a lot of people do not know how to ask for what they want. What are we doing on October 7? Do you really want t know what I am doing on October 7? Or do you want to go somewhere and you want to know if it is okay? Ask me what you want to do.

 

I had this little girl, she is a junior now –she came in and maybe 25 minutes we got to this basic question of I had a conflict, what should I do but she had to tell me the whole story so I had to go, Keiko, did you do this? Did you do that? And now when she comes in she is a little bit more concise, but I just go – deep breath – what do you want?  She says it to me – I give her the answer – I go, see how easy that was? Okay we didn’t have to go into this whole thing. She is Japanese, I know that some of it is cultural and I should probably be more patient, but I was getting a little frustrated with 25 minute conversations on could I take the afternoon off?

 

Workout designs. We have done skittle workouts. Well what is a skittle workout?  There are orange ones, there are yellows, there are greens, purple I think and so you got a bag of skittles and then we go up on the board, a red skittle is this warm-up and a green skittle is that warm-up.  A yellow skittle is that warm-up so we go around grab the skittle –whatever your skittle says, color it is – just eat your skittle and then you get to do that warm-up and you have a kicking set that way and you know, some of them are longer than others. And is it going to make us better? No, but I think they get excited about a skittles workout. Stanford is our traditional rival so big game a lot of times we will have a beat Stanford workout and so you beat Stanford – vowels are five 50’s on the 50 holding your breath. Consonants are 300 and it could be a 5,000-yard set, but it is a beat Stanford. – It is Friday fun day. Here we go. I just think there are lots of different ways that you can reframe it. I came earlier today and on the Doc Councilman video one of the gentlemen was talking about the jelly bean workouts you know and his guys killing each other for a dumb bag of jelly beans you know.

 

Last summer I remember I was telling the girls I am going to give you lap money and they didn’t know what lap money was so I had to explain you know in a race car when you are leading a lap you get so much money and so we started doing this thing, it probably wasn’t great for their swimming, but it was kind of fun – lap money – if you were leading the lap you got nickels and if you led the lap at the end you got .25. I kept track for the whole Santa Clara invite and then Monday morning I was like okay, Haley you won $1.15 – here you go and gave them in like nickels and quarters and they were like, no I think it was a dollar twenty Teri, are you sure? Part of the reason I did it is you are sitting at you know the nice thing about a college dual meet, I mean bang, bang, bang two and a half hours you have swum your four events, you won or you lost, its over. See ya. And then when they go to the summer and it is three days, heats and finals – 11 events or something I mean, they are in la la land.  You know, quite candidly, I am in la la land going oh my God. And so it was a way that it just really engaged the entire group when one of us was swimming and it was kind of fun. Natalie is ineligible now because she won some money so don’t anyone say anything – she will have to pay it back.

 

The other thing – not just workout designs but your leadership and captains Last year I said we are not going to have captains – we are going to have committees and we had communication committee and I forget all the different committees. It was all written out in their play book and you were assigned to this committee and blah, blah blah and we got to the point where maybe two months into the season they were like we don’t know who the captains are. They were just so locked into the captains. Alright, lets select captains, so we elect captains and then at the end of the year I bet 50% of them were like you were right, we didn’t need captains. So now it is kind of a culmination of what I have done. It is a culmination of what Peter does. We have job descriptions. We spent three hours. We had jobs all right? We defined – the captain has a job and that is what their job is. The community service person that is their job. The academics they have their job so there was 19 returnees so we had jobs and then 19 spaces for it. The spirit won, they were the mood directors. We are in Berkley so we had to have cool names for it, but there were two for them. The rookie coach – we had had a little problem last year in our rookie week that we got in trouble with the university so now it is called cohesion week. Because that is not hazing when it is a cohesion week. So we had a cohesion week and I got a phone call last night that in our cohesion week, someone fell and dislocated her shoulder.

 

Last year part of the problem was they didn’t call me and tell me that stuff was going on – it goes back to the communication. Not telling me is lying.  We talked about that last week too. You know it is misleading – it is not really lying I guess, but is not communicating and so I had three messages on my cell phone last night when I finally checked them. We are in the hospital. We are okay. This is what happened. So I got a hold of people today. We have a big C up on the hill and the freshmen go up and they paint it and she was painting the big C and she slipped on the wet paint – on a big hill – and she went down the hill and shoulder went this way and she went that way and so apparently they are in the emergency room with blue and gold paint all over them. I think it is important today. I called everyone that called me. I said, thank you for calling me. I appreciate that. I know you didn’t do this on purpose. It is still a tradition that we will continue to do and you know, we will move on. They told me that the girl is on Vicodin and I told a couple of them, because I am not no naïve that there might be some liquid courage, as my brother calls it, going on Saturday night at their party and I said you know, she knows that the Vicodin and the drinking might not be a good combination? But there is still part of me that is still trying to go like okay, you still need to be careful there. Just the thinking outside the box is in so many different ways and so important.

 

**Celebrate uniqueness. I just think this just goes back to every kid on your team is there a person and they bring unique talent and skills. You know I said someone on the team really; the thing that drew me to her was her ability to acknowledge the people around her. Acknowledged me on a recruiting visit, acknowledged her host – that was someone I wanted to be around. We have another young lady that you know, quite candidly, is not at the athletic ability that she should be swimming out of Cal Berkley. She has a brother with special needs and you know what, that girl is going to bring things to our program that I have no idea about and no one else on the team right now has that experience. That is something that I think we are all going to benefit from, but it is definitely something we will benefit from. Winning is not always the most important thing. You are not all going to be the fastest – you are not all going to get straight A’s – its like everybody has a responsibility and it is our job I think to celebrate that and acknowledge it and draw that out of them. Challenge them. What are you doing to make the group better?  Just being here, getting the opportunity to go to this university to be in this group, you have to give something back, or you don’t get invited to stay any more.

 

This is the last page. I have got to hurry up. Embrace your role as a teacher and be conscious of the significance of this.  This is so powerful as you do this longer, you realize the magnitude of that statement. I have had people come back and say things that you did this that you know and you did this positive and you did this negative sometimes, but its like I remember you know?  My God – I don’t remember 17 years ago when I said this at a workout and that had a profound influence on them. I celebrate. I have a folder, a feel good folder that has emails or cards from people that – a lot of times they are not always going to appreciate what we are doing. This is not a job where you get immediate feedback of what you are giving them. You don’t always get that back. You don’t get the acknowledgement from the people that you are giving but you know what? I just got an email about a month ago from someone that had seen an article. They live down in the central valley and it was a guy that was on our Fresno State teams and he sent me an email. Do you remember me? Well I am not that old, I do remember your name and you know I am teaching now, I am coaching, the way I coach, the way I am raising my two kids, you know you had a profound influence on that and I just wanted to say thank you and I am happy for your success.  I mean, that is awesome. You know those days when you are just like oh man – this is really not worth it, you just have to pull out that feel good file. I got four letters this past season from parents that I recruited their kids that all went somewhere else. **You know what, if they really believe what they wrote there and they took the time to write that then I am okay with that, then I am doing what I am supposed to be doing and I feel successful because that is what they got with their brief interaction with me and they will probably kick our butt somewhere else, but oh well.

 

Challenge yourself, keep growing and learning about yourself. I just think it goes back to I heard Bill say this yesterday, that as a coach we need to be ahead on our experiences of our athletes or we are going to limit our athletes. And I don’t just mean like our coaching experiences, but just learning about whom we are. I don’t think you can teach somebody to really appreciate who they are, have confidence in themselves if you are not doing those things, if you are not modeling that behavior and you are doing that for yourself.  This has just become a really important. I think it feeds the competitiveness in me. You know I don’t get to swim anymore, but I can learn about swimming. I can learn about why I am a certain way coaching. It just helps me in every aspect of my life and it is reading books, it is talking to people, it is getting up here and trying something different. Its learning how the computer works. You know whatever it is it is going to the color me mine and in painting something and then going damn, that looks good. You know it is doing things that you are challenging yourself in different ways.

 

Next Sunday I am going to swim the ……….. Mile with my team. I have not been in the water – no – that is not true, I have not really been in the water for maybe four to five years. I have been in enough in the last two months that I have been going about 1500 a week, I figure I am safe. I am not going to drown in the bay, but it is a challenge. My team needs it. You know some of them don’t want to do that. I am okay with that but I am saying you know what? I am going to challenge myself in that regard too.  I go Whitney we are swimming the ……. Mile and he goes, “we are doing it”? And I say yeah, better get in the water buddy.  So I am sure they will get it – they all had the energy – elite division – but I am in the age group division.  I still think I am going to get my butt kicked, but that is okay.

 

Then the last thing I think is just having fun.  It is going to be fun for us or and your athletes need to know that you are having fun. There is nowhere else that you want to be at 5:30 in the morning and you know what? Most of the days that is true. I do have some days that I don’t want to be there, but you know when I look at the grand scheme of things and I value it – how many of you tell your athletes that you are not enjoying this? Go do something else? Okay, that is the day when I know that I am done too. When I am not enjoying this any more – see ya later. Thank you.

 

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