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7 Steps to Coaching Teams

A team is a reflection of their leader. Follow these 7 Steps to coach your team to success with their best chances of winning!

1) Credibility:

Establish trust, credibility & build rapport. Get to know each person individually. For example, find out their likes and dislikes, strengths and weaknesses and habits. Demonstrate your credibility and list your resume and background as to why you are an expert on coaching. If you don’t have a lot of experience coaching, let them know how committed you are to their success. They must also feel and know that you really do care about them. Once they see how committed you are to them and their success, their commitment rises.

2) Meeting:

Call a meeting and state the general goal of meeting. For example, to get in the money on your league, win a championship or move up to top 30% in league, etc.

3) Questions:

Ask the following questions. Go around the room and let each person speak. Just listen. Write down people’s responses on a white board.

Question #1:

What’s there for them regarding achieving the general goal? How are they feeling about it in general? For example, they are worried that they don’t have enough time to practice, they don’t know what to practice, they get too nervous during competition, their confidence is low, etc.

Question #2:

How do they want to be perceived by other competitors and spectators and family and friends regarding their pool game? What do you want people to say about you? For example, they want their competition to see them as a threat or dominating, their family and friends to see them as a winner or hardcore bad ass.

Question #3:

What concerns and requests do you have? For example, they don’t feel like they are good enough, or don’t like some of their teammates, or don’t like the equipment, etc.

Question #4:

How can they make their goal quantifiable as a specific measurable result? For example, if they want to win the championship, how many balls would they be able to run in a particular drill.

Question #5:

Ask everyone to do the ‘Zero Regrets’ exercise from book called, ‘The Way of the Champion’ by Jerry Lynch. Imagine it’s game day or the day when your results will be measured. Imagine you kept doing things the same way that you’ve been doing them and you lost… Now, imagine you are on game day and specifically imagining looking back into time. What would you have done differently? For example, would you practice more, have a more positive attitude, invested in a better pool cue, hired a coach, or were you too hard or yourself or not allow yourself to have fun?

4) Positive:

Be positive. Rephrase any negatives into positives. For example, if someone says they are afraid they won’t practice enough, rephrase it and ask how many hours per week are you committed to practicing? Before this though, you have to inspire your team and get them to want to be committed. Another example, is they say don’t feel confident. Rephrase and ask how many hours a week would make you feel confident? What if you were given specific things to practice and you actually practiced them?

Another example, is that they are afraid they or their teammates will drink too much. Ask them to agree as a team on how many drinks you will have during practice and play. Maybe limit to 1 or 2 drinks and then agree to go out and celebrate AFTER the matches. Have a penalty if someone does not follow this or other rules, such as if they have more than 1 drink, they have to pay for everyone’s drinks afterwards or have to do 30 pushups, etc.

5) Motto:

Decide on a Motto that everyone can be inspired by. Use specific examples that are enrolling and inspire emotion.

For example, the players in this men’s team I coached to the Championships were from many different backgrounds and didn’t share much in common. Individually, they all played very good but as a team, they argued a lot and blamed each other for mistakes made. I had to think of a common thread that we could all share. After listening to everyone’s answers in the Questions section, I learned that something they all had in common was that they all really liked and were inspired by our sponsor and owner of the poolroom, named Stacy. Stacy had made a meaningful impact on each and every person on the team in one way or another. So, we agreed on our motto to be, “Play for Sta”. And, we had a 2nd motto too because there was a major rivalry going on with the other poolroom which was “If You’re Not With Us, You’re Against Us”! These mottos united us and inspired us!

The women’s team that I coached to the Championships was up against some really rough women. By “rough”, I mean women who were more interested in fist fighting, arguing and cheating rather than playing. We decided on a motto of “AYC” from the movie, Kick Ass, meaning, “Alright You Cnts”! It doesn’t matter what it is as long as everyone is inspired by it and it can even make you laugh. The creating rapport and asking questions help you come up with inspiring motto and help form the list of specific rules needed to commit to to be successful. “AYC” was funny and helped us keep our killer instinct, motivation and commitment to making each shot. 

Another scotch doubles matches league team, decided on a motto, “I made MY shot”. It was cute and fun and put focus on making just that one ball in front of you rather that winning or losing. Although winning is the goal, of course, you can’t win unless you just take it one ball at a time.

6) Agreements:

Everyone must agree to be coachable and do what the team as a whole decides regarding rules, practice and drinking limits, showing up on time. Otherwise, this team is not for you, and there is the door…

7) Rules:

These rules are specific to your team. The more specific and helpful they are to your particular group, the better chances they have at succeeding. If you are limited in knowledge in this area, ask for an expert’s advice. It’s ok if you don’t have all the answers. Just be responsible about doing your best at getting the answers and then have your entire team agree on them.

Here are some examples:

Be there.

All players must be there at start time even if you are not playing. Showing up to support and watch your teammates is very beneficial for your team. It not only helps your teammates but it can be intimidating for the other team. Also, wearing your team shirt actually has people psychologically be a better team. After all, why do you think the army has a uniform? Help teammates and anticipate their needs. Support and believe in teammates, use positive encouraging words, focus on what TO DO, not what to NOT TO DO. Another way to bring your team closer to one another is to plan some social events together. Plan to have lunch or dinner or drinks. This has an amazing interesting effect on team chemistry which is vital to a team being successful.

Stay sober.

Don’t drink too much! Wanna know who the player typically is that is ordering drinks?… The LOSER. They drink not just because they want to lose inhibition, but because they don’t have the guts to just sit and observe and take responsibility for their game. Instead of being hard on yourself, have the courage to ask yourself specifically what you need to do differently in order to make the shot and commit to doing that next time. Did you jump up? Did you not plan your next shot? Were you not fully committed to your decision? Did you not take enough time to make a decision? Did you not walk around the table and see all the possibilities or plan your run

out properly? Well, drinking more is not going to help you win. In fact, at best, studies have been done that say 1 drink can help nerves or confidence, but NOT more than that! Give yourself your BEST chance of winning! Give it your BEST effort! You’ll be happy you did.

Sit down!

Sit in chair while not shooting. It’s actually the rule whether it’s enforced or not. Plus, it conserves energy, and it helps you mentally because you can relax and breath and plan your next shot keeping focus on the game. In addition, standing makes you look nervous and amateur. Have you ever seen a pro match with the other player standing there? Most likely not ever! Keep your head in the game while sitting and waiting your turn by anticipating your detailed plan of shooting.

Relaxed Focus.

No fraternizing! The other team may try to engage you in conversation. Whether they are trying to consciously distract you, or just trying to calm their own nerves, it does no good for your game. It’s a distraction. Have the balls to watch the game and be there in the moment, feel the pressure, breath, support your teammates. Be polite and acknowledge the other team when they try to involve us in conversation, but stay calm and focus.


Do breathing exercise in your chair between shots. Breath in through your nose for 4 seconds, hold for 8 seconds and out for 4 seconds.

Stay still.

The most common reasons players miss is that they jump up or move too soon during a shot. Therefore, commit to exaggerating staying still. For example, agree to all stay still until ALL the balls stop rolling.

Now you have a Game Plan and the best chance of succeeding! The key to coaching teams is loving your team and following these 7 steps.

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