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  • Writer's pictureJack Mullaney

Their Team

I'm currently reading The Tough Stuff: Seven Hard Truths About Being A Head Coach by Cody Royle, who has skin in the game as the leader of AFL Canada. I can already tell this will be a book I'll gift to friends in the coaching profession.

There's a section in Chapter 3 entitled It's their team, which implores coaches to remember exactly that. It's ultimately the athletes' team, and not ours. They are responsible for the performance. They decide how much they want to invest in their success. They are the ones who compete between the lines.

Royle references an interview with Golden State Warriors Coach Steve Kerr, who, one night after allowing his veteran players to draw up plays during timeouts, said this:

"It's their team. I think that's one of the first things you have to consider as a coach; it's not your team. It's the players' team, and they have to take ownership of it. As coaches it's our job to nudge them, to guide them, but we don't control them. They determine their own fate."

Maybe I'm wading too deep into semantics, but it's always rubbed me the wrong way when a distance coach, in reference to a former athlete they worked with, says so-and-so "ran for me."

Nobody runs for you. They run for their team.

Our jobs exist because there is a team. The team doesn't exist because of us. In the vast majority of cases, it will continue to operate well beyond our tenure as its coach.

Instead, it's our job to be caretakers of the team - to help the athletes find success, on and off the track. And if we've done well, we'll leave the team in a better place than we found it.

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