ABCA Clinic Recaps - Rod Olson


Liam Carroll

Motivating and Challenging the 21st Century Athlete
Rod Olson – Founder, Coaches of Excellence

Every year the ABCA convention includes a clinic on ethics in coaching, reminding us that skills and drills and wins and losses aren’t the most important things.  Coach Olson was the pick of the speakers for me and one of two clinics I needed extra paper to write notes on, along with former MLB star Darin Erstad.  He is in the top five speakers I’d want to talk to any team I ever coach, sport or otherwise.

Common topics in coaching circles are how the attitudes of players and parents have changed and how the coaching environment has changed (often for the better).  In the first clinic of the convention Andy Lopez talked about how he sometimes feels that he’s the first person who has ever raised his voice to some of his players, a big change from when he started coaching.  Coach Olson told the story of two players’ attitudes to practice: the kid who keeps asking when practice is over, and the “old school” farm boy who replied “we’re done when we’re done.”  Those are two situations that I’ve experienced and you may have, too, and it can be a challenge to find the right thing to do.

In summarising the task today’s coaches face, Coach Olson said that “you can’t play today’s game by yesterday’s rules.” 

I’m going to write about his clinic in two parts, firstly things directly from his presentation and outline and secondly some notes I made on some of the things he said.

10 Expectations of the 21st Century Athlete

1. To contribute immediately
2. To be important and do important things
3. To receive feedback immediately
4. To be treated as an individual
5. To have access to the head coach
6. Experience meaningful relationships
7. A plan of measurable growth steps
8. To learn from their peers
9. To see results quickly
10. For their coaches to be innovative and have high expectations

The 3 Non-Negotiables of a 21st Century Coach of Excellence

1. Is a consistent leader in an inconsistent world
a. Consistency breeds trust and trust breeds relationships
2. Creates a climate where people are valued over productivity
3. Speaks greatness into others.  Use a transformational vocabulary

The 3 Dimensional Coach

Level 1 (Fundamentals)
• Strength
• Speed
• Power
• Quickness
• Technique
• Repetitions
• Tactical
• Biomechanics

Level 2 (Psychology)
• Mind of today’s athlete

Level 3 (Heart)
• Intangibles

And now my notes, which will shed light on some of the items above:

• Your values and principles do not change but your methods do, with the times.
• Even at the professional level (Coach Olson directs the Coach Development programme for the Pittsburgh Pirates organisation), coaches have to deal with parents questioning their approach, for example because players are hearing different things from private instructors.
• As clarity of purpose increases so does performance.
• You can’t give what you don’t possess yourself.
• Are you authentic?
• There are four types of coaches in the 21st Century:
     o The angry/hostile coach
     o The transactional approach (results without relationships)
     o The relationship coach
     o The 3 Dimensional coach
• Cultivate trust.
• Simplicity – be a consistent leader in an inconsistent world.
• Speak greatness into others – life and death live in the power of the tongue.
• Determine what a “win” looks like in practice, and celebrate them.
• Keep a “win book” – write down small and big victories and go to your win book in testing times.
• You are either coaching something or letting it happen.
• 3 P’s:
     o Purpose
     o Process
     o Payoff
• 3 Questions:
     o Why do you coach?
     o What is your coaching philosophy?
o How do you measure success?
• Be a change-agent.
• Talent to Mastery.
• Sterile communication leads to sterile relationships.
• Great coaches are easy to please and hard to satisfy (my job is to take you to another level).

My Most Important Thing

My favourite clinic wasn’t about skills, drills or strategy but rather one that helped me build my toolbox of activities and concepts for motivating people and gave me information that improved the clarity of my approach to coaching.  As well as expanding your knowledge of the fundamentals and strategy, figure out why you are coaching and how you are going to build relationships with all of your players.  If they are becoming the best that they can be it’s a pretty good indication that you are as well.

Last Up: Darin Erstad

On Deck: Dr. Tom Hanson


tagged under: baseball, coaching, softball

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About Liam Carroll

Liam Carroll

Liam was a Regional Coach and then Development Coordinator for BaseballSoftballUK until May 2014. He returned to his hometown of London to work for BSUK in 2010 after stops in Somerset, Bristol, Cornwall, California and Nevada. Growing up playing in Britain, Liam made the move to America to study and play university baseball. After figuring out that his future would be brighter as a coach rather than player, he moved to the University of Nevada Las Vegas to finish his degree and coach college baseball. Since then he’s coached youth and adult teams on both sides of the atlantic and with the Great Britain Baseball National Teams.

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