16 Dec #T2T: Teaching Text to Team
Throughout my career as a head coach, I have made it a point to send a text to my wife Corey every day, that has nothing to do with my job, that doesn’t include my itinerary for the day, and has no mention of our children. As my world was changing from assistant coach to head coach, I knew that I had to create safe guards to help me keep my priorities in order. My intent was and still is for it to be a way to show her that my relationship with her is a priority regardless of what is swirling around in my professional sphere. Early in my career, I realized in order for me to execute it, I had to write it on my ‘To Do’ list, so that when we were in the middle of the season I wouldn’t forget. I didn’t want to send a text only on the days that I remembered, or the days following a win when I was in a good mood. I wanted there to be consistency, and I wanted the message to convey to her, her importance to me. Like anything else in your life that you want to make a priority, you have to find a way to make it a habit first. It took some time, but now, it is second nature.
As my two oldest children reached the cell phone/iPad age over the last few years, I had the same sort of idea. The intent started the same, but as I became more consistent in doing it, I decided that half of them needed to be “I love you” in nature, and the other half needed to be more of a text trying to teach them something about life. I started sending those “Teaching Texts” once/week. None of what I sent was anything out of the ordinary, it was just another platform I wanted to try and use to help in their growth. What I learned from doing that, was it was almost the first topic of conversation the next time I saw them: “Hey Dad, that text you sent today, I wanted to ask you….?” What I thought was an avenue for me to teach them, ended up being the opposite. I learned way more from my children in those conversations, than the text I sent. I found myself constantly rehashing those conversations in my mind when they weren’t around, with a myriad of different thoughts –
“How did they not know that?”
“Why am I just now teaching them that? I should have taught them that years ago.”
“I had no idea they already knew that…I didn’t learn that until I was 22?!”
“I need to send them something of value for their life every day – not once/week, they will be moving out of our house sooner than I realize”
As a parent, I became very convicted by it all, which I hope has led me to being a better parent.
I often think the word ‘culture’ is overused, and mentioned in a way that it is almost something mythical. In our program, we define ‘culture’, simply as ‘our habits’. Like most other things that have turned into “habits” in our program, I have done the same ‘Teaching Texts’ with our players and staff. As my lens on coaching has continued to evolve, and many of the columns in the “scorecard” that initially I thought were once so important, now have little to no meaning to me, and the columns I never even knew existed, have become the ones that are most important. I am not saying that I am right, nor do I have a conceited attitude about this, as I type. However, I am being transparent, and as I have evolved, the metrics in how I go about things has morphed into something completely different. I am always trying to find ways to help our guys #getBETTER in all categories of their life, not just ball, and as my metrics have changed, ball has descended as a category.
Any time I allow someone to speak to our team, which is rare, I always ask that they share from the same theme as the last speaker:
“What do you know now (no matter how old the speaker is), that you wished you knew at 20 (the average age of our players)?
As I got in a rhythm of the “Teaching Texts” to my own children, I have added it to my calendar for our team. I have tried to follow the path of what I ask of our speakers – I want it to be along the lines of “What I wished someone would have told me when I was 20 years old…” It is always life specific, and on occasion, I will use sports as the video, or the quote to build the text off of, so it gives our guys a point of reference, but it has zero to do with them as an athlete, and everything to do with them as a person.
This is a picture of my calendar from the last two weeks. The “T2T” box, is “Teaching Text to Team”. I tried a few sporadically throughout the summer wanting to get a feel if it was the right thing, and if I was sending the right type of stuff. By chance, this summer I was talking to one of our players’ Mom’s, and she said: “Coach, I really like that text you sent my son, that is what he needs to hear. Keep telling him that please, that is what I have been telling him his entire life.” After only sending it to our players and staff this summer, after that phone conversation, I decided to send it to all the parents/coaches/people of importance specific to each kid in our program.
Another thing happened this summer, that changed my thoughts on the idea. We had a few former players come spend a few days on campus with us this summer, and similar to the feelings of guilt I had felt when I started doing this with my own children – that feeling of “making up for lost time”, any time I send a “teaching text” now, I send it to any player I have ever coached. Most of it they have heard me say in one form or another, but it is to reiterate I love them, and that our relationship is for life. Their responses have been the best, because they immediately begin with: “Coach I remember when you said this, on that day, when this had happened…”
I started doing this consistently with our guys when school started back this fall, and like so many other things, it has begun to morph into way more than I ever thought. I send them to any coach or administrator I have ever worked for or with, and like what has happened with our ‘quote cards’, I get random texts now, asking, “Did you take me off the list?” because they were wondering if I had missing texting them one week.
I was against having my own website or twitter account for the longest time, but how I squared it in my mind was, maybe something that I share can help one person in some sort of way. I thought showing you a few of the different past “Teaching Texts” could possibly accomplish that. And in the coming weeks I will randomly share others, in hopes that it will help someone, somewhere, #getBETTER in some way.