Rob Miller has influenced and guided the most successful and significant dance team coaches through Proactive Coaching, an organization that works with coaches to help them create character-based team cultures, provide a blueprint for team leadership, develop confident, tough-minded competitors, and train coaches for excellence and significance. He is one of my favorite speakers, and I’m so thrilled that he’s on the podcast! We talked about what makes a team great, the six levels of coaching, how to use words when coaching, teaching character, confrontation styles and building confidence. These are just the highlights. Listen to the actual podcast again and again for a great motivating boost from the man we at Larkspur lovingly refer to as the Chuck Norris of dance team.
What makes a team great? We define great teams as this: great teams are teams that reach potential. And when you think about it, the beautiful thing is every team can reach potential. It’s about choices not about talent, right? One of the best compliments you will ever get is that you reach potential because that means you did it. Issue Number Two is this: you own it. You can have a team without me. I can’t have a team without you as a coach, and you can own that greatness. Great teams culminate every shape and size. What do they look like? Yep, you can be an athletic team. It could be a Performing Arts team. It could be like a little school growing up in Michigan. It was the FFA the Future Farmers of America. Choices allow you to reach potential.”
The importance of team culture: “I think obviously we all want to win right? We all want to win. We all want to get that title. We all want to get that banner that true. That’s part of the reward for doing it. When you get so focused on them, you’ll sacrifice and take wrong steps. You’ll take shortcuts. You’ll act in situations differently than you normally would cuz your eyes are on that trophy. Have you ever coached a highly talented team that’s won championships, but you walk away glad that the season is just over. Where we want to get to is to the point where we get to the end of the season and actually we don’t want it to end, either we finished tenth or we won the championship. I just wanted tomorrow to come and to be able to be with these kids again.”
“I think it all starts with set in the clear expectations. There’s an awareness piece, an education piece and there’s an engagement piece and sometimes we never get past the awareness. We give them that T-shirt with the yearly theme and then never get into saying, ‘Here’s what it looks like and here’s how we’re going to gauge it. It’s the balance of being professionally prepared to teach them their fundamental skills and also your core values.”
Dealing with parents: “I try to remind all young coaches to focus on the 99% not the 1% because I think there’s 1% of parents that are 1% of everything down the drain energy and drain coaches. 80% of your parents are never going to give you a problem so focus on them. Yes, 19% may cause you some issues, they’re going to ask some questions. They’re going to bring up some issues. They believe they have their thoughts and guess what? There’s nothing that says they have to agree with us. The question is have we out laid out how we’re going to communicate? If you want to communicate with me set up an appointment to come see me, we’re not going to do it by e-mail. We’re not going to go by text just like I’m not going to come to your office. I’m not going to come to your house at 9:00 to discuss. Let’s set this up professionally. Okay, here’s how we’ll talk. I’ll always talk to you about the welfare of your child. I’m not going to talk to you about these things, but I’ll talk to you about these things.”
Using words while coaching: “We always say be positive and demanding without being demeaning and embarrassing. Never ever ever demean a willing learner. Make sure you know your athletes’ story. Where are they coming from? Because sometimes we don’t know what they’re dealing with. Are they dealing with a family member dealing with cancer? I’m sure we’ve seen all the studies come back to covid how much domestic abuse and depression and all that taking place and do we know that before we just started kidding with him?”
“Also, rehearse your responses, so you’re not caught getting too emotional and saying things you might say wrong. Things like: We need a better effort out of you. We know you can do it. I’ve seen you do it. We’re better when you’re a better. Let’s go.”
Teaching character: “So if I’m teaching them how to do a certain physical skill, I’m going to define, model, shape and reinforce. Why not do the same thing when it’s coming from a character perspective? And so when we define something it’s like saying here’s what we want from you. Modeling is also key. Give them an exact blueprint of how you want them to act and don’t ask a young person to do something you won’t do yourself. The third one is shaping. You gotta develop your style and understand these two key principles. You send a message of acceptance for everything you don’t confront. The last one is reinforce. Give themm a video, give them an article they can read that reinforces what you’re trying to do, so it’s not just your voice. The most effective way is when they’re doing what you’ve been asking them to do, let them know. Let’s reward great behavior and instead of always catching them doing wrong, catch them doing right.”