The True Measure of Coaching Success

By July 11, 2014 4 Comments

What is the one true measure of success? There are many responses that would no doubt fit the question, but I believe there is only one perfect answer: longevity. In the coaching world I believe longevity is the true measure of success. I’m not talking about the type of longevity involving someone just holding a position and going through the motions for years. Rather, I am talking about sustained excellence. This week we’ll discuss five keys to obtaining real longevity in your job.

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The first key to acquiring longevity is to avoid burnout. In order to do this we must change with the times. This is especially true in coaching. We can’t fight the battle of holding on to the same methods used when we were young. Times change and we must too in order to reach our audience. We can still hold true to our core values and doing so will help us avoid burnout. Every year we must take time off to refresh and recharge, time to “stop and smell the roses.”

The second key for longevity is having balance. We must find a way to balance our families, careers, leisure time, and coaching responsibilities. This can be a very difficult task and I have seen many coaches step down in order to spend more time with their families. For me, the key here is to keep things in perspective. Sports should never be more important than family. Coaches must hold on to the reasons why they got into coaching in the first place, and not let their sport consume them every day. I’ll have more on this in a future post.

Thirdly, we must have consistency. Anyone can have a great couple of years or seasons, but can you maintain that level over time? Now, in coaching a lot depends on the talent level of the players you have, but can you successfully lead a quality program over 20 years? Can you maintain a high standard on and off the court over time? Not every coach is blessed to have extremely talented players year after year. Some of the best coaching is done on teams with mediocre talent that end their seasons right at .500 or a little above. Can the leader get the most out of those they work with over time? To me, that is real success.

The fourth key is to have an impact. Do your players or the people who worked with you remember you? Do they stay in contact with you? Do they know that you love them and care about them and their families’ well being? Coaches must make a sustained effort to have an impact during and after their players’ playing days. Having an impact on lives beyond the court or office is what separates one from the pack, and doing so over an extended period of time is truly what makes one great.

The fifth and final key is to create a legacy. The number one goal of our basketball program is to create living trophies. By building players into people who are “living trophies” or RGP’s, we are creating a lasting legacy. This is how we truly affect the world. We may not be able to make world headlines, but by one athlete or employee at a time we can make positive impact in their lives and they can pay that forward. Your win-loss record or career earnings total won’t be at your funeral, but the people’s lives that you’ve made an impact on will.

Too often will simply define success or label successful people as those with the most wins, championships, money earned, and deals closed. All of that is great, but I believe if one can do the five things discussed above over a lengthy period of time that they are the definition of success.

Do you agree with this list? What would you add to it? I look forward to hearing your thoughts and opinions.

As always, thanks for reading, have a great week, and be an RGP today!


Join the discussion 4 Comments

  • Dee Gerstenkorn says:

    Love this line…”Your win-loss record or career earnings total won’t be at your funeral, but the people’s lives that you’ve made an impact on will.” So true.

  • kelmendorf says:

    Thank you Dee, and thank you for reading! Have a great weekend!

  • Matt says:

    As always, Coach, well-written perspective, and a very good reminder to young coaches and old dogs like me as well! I agree with Dee…your funeral quote is a great point emphasis to your lessons above.

  • kelmendorf says:

    Thanks Coach, I appreciate it!Hope all is going well for you and you get some time to relax and recharge before another school year begins shortly.