WYC 123 – The Positivity Experiment – Kate Leavell talks culture, Jon Gordon, & Lacrosse

Kate Leavell: I have been an NCAA lacrosse coach, a high school varsity lacrosse and strength coach, a youth and travel coach of many different sports, swimming instructor, NASM certified personal trainer and senior fitness specialist, board member, a national coaches education trainer for US Lacrosse, an eternal college student, a parent of youth and high school athletes, speaker, teacher, and apparently now after four years of blogging and nationally featured articles and a book…a writer. I’m drawn to all things motivational and figuring out what makes people reach and discover what seems impossible. After a recent shoulder surgery led to staring a pulmonary embolism in the face (or staring at it in the lungs?!) i had time to reevaluate what is important. I came to the realization that it’s not an interest after all that I spread motivation around, it’s in fact, a necessity. So my mission begins, one kid, one coach at a time if need be.

Website (and book coming soon): kateleavell.com

Twitter: @kateleavell

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‘Invite your team to get on the bus. Get the energy vampires off the bus. You are better off without them.’ – Jon Gordon

Coaching your own kids

  • Have assistant coaches coach teach your kid and vice versa
  • Stop coaching on the car ride home, leave it at the field

Cringe Moment

  • Putting your own self-worth based on a team’s performance
  • ‘I know a lot about lacrosse, I don’t know anything about building a culture’
  • Big moment: meeting Jon Gordon in the airport, reading The Energy Bus – changed Kate’s perspective on building culture

Accelerate Deep Training

  • Make everything fun, make everything competitive, then quit talking and just let them do it. ‘Kids hear the first sentence and last sentence you say’, the middle usually just goes in one ear and out the other.

Good Icebreakers/games

  • The Hug game – Call out a number, then the kids have to form a group with that number of people and put arms around each other to form a circle. Whoever doesn’t end up in a circle is out.
  • Zombie Tag – First time tagged, you lose an arm. Then you have to go out of circle, run a lap, then you’re back in. Then you lose 2nd arm, then legs. So last time you have to roll out of circle b/c you have no legs.
  • Stop playing chess with your players, put away the ‘joystick’, and

Peak performance

  • ‘I’m a believer in belief’ – The more the kids believe that you believe in them, the better their performance will be

Building Culture

  • It starts with expectations up front
  • 3 different groups that feed into your culture:

1 – Coaches – Support one another. Do a mid-season survey to ask kids how they are doing

2 – Players – Positive self-talk

3 – Parents – Kate has an open door policy, the only restriction is that they will only talk about their kid, not other kids on the team

Communication – “Drama is heavier than bricks, it always breaks through”

Lessons from Jon Gordon

  • ‘Invite your team to get on the bus. Get the energy vampires off the bus. You are better off without them.’
  • Urban Meyer 10-80-10 Principle – Quit spending energy on the energy vampires, put your energy towards your high energy people

The one that got away

  • It wasn’t a tough loss – it was a team where Kate had let the culture get away from her

The Positivity Experiment

  • Kate did an experiment where she committed to only talking about what it going well, never pointing out negatives. The things they needed to work on, she would just add them to the practice plan instead of pointing them out.
  • ‘I let go of being focused on winning, which freed me up to enjoy coaching and took the pressure off the outcome of the game’

Parting Advice

  • Think about the end game. Picture the kid you are coaching at graduation, and ask him/her to describe their sports experience.

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