Today we continue our “10 things I’ve learned” series with an entry from Terry Liskevych. Liskevych, who led the University of Pacific women’s program to five Final Fours from 1976 to 1985 and was head coach of the U.S. women’s national team at three Olympics, is one of the three founders of The Art of Coaching Volleyball; the others are Stanford’s John Dunning and Penn State’s Russ Rose.
- Surround yourself with the right people, exceptional people. Know your strengths and, more important, your weaknesses. That helps you ensure that those around you make your collective staff better. Be sure to delegate, and also be sure to over deliver on your promises to your staff.
- Know your priorities in life. What’s most important for you? Wealth? Family? Health? Religious beliefs? Value system? Integrity? Friendship? Be true to yourself, and remember that the most important things in life are not things. Also, be able to make fun of yourself; laugh often and surround yourself with others who can laugh with you.
- Develop and establish a clear philosophy of coaching. Write it down … on one page. Review it at the end of each year, and modify it as needed. Make sure it’s easily understandable to your staff, players, parents, administrators.
- Mentorship. Find a mentor and give back by being a mentor.
- Work ethic. Learn how to work hard and smart. My father, Taras M. Liskevych, told me: “This is a great country – if you work hard, anything is possible. However, remember that you may work hard and not get what you want. But YOU WILL NEVER get what you want if you do not work hard.”
- Learn every day and read as much as you can. Enhance your knowledge with something new every year. Seek professional development and networking opportunities. Keep a list of books to read, both fiction and non-fiction — on coaching, on leadership, on motivation. Remember, learners will not be left behind.
- Positive energy. Glass half full rather than glass half empty. Make a conscious choice to be part of the solution, not the problem.
- Have a basic foundation of teaching/coaching principles. The training environment is a key to your success. Practice is the most important thing that you’ll do. Practice does not make perfect —perfect practice makes perfect. Design a system for your players rather than fitting your players into a system. Don’t try to do tactically what you cannot do technically.
- Develop a system to identify talent. Keep in mind that the most important ingredient of coaching success is the athletic talent of your team. Attitude, effort and work ethic are also important. Look for energy givers and for players who have the ability to keep plugging away after failing. As Nelson Mandela says, “The greatest glory in living lies not in never falling, but in rising every time that we fall.”
- Market your program. It’s our job as coaches to help expose this great sport to more followers. Work to attract fans who aren’t just player families and friends and/or former players and coaches.
Others in the series: