By: Wade Gilbert
Originally Published in: Coaching Better Every Season
Provided by: Human Kinetics
To build continually on strengths, coaches need strategies for storing what they learn about their strengths so that they can easily retrieve and review lessons learned when needed. All coaches will have their own preferences and ways of storing what they learn about their strengths, but several examples can help coaches think about novel and effective ways to archive lessons learned.
The first example comes from the United States Army, which has created the Center for Army Lessons Learned (CALL). CALL is an extreme example of the tremendous potential of identifying strengths and storing lessons learned. Military leaders, much like coaches, must continually adapt to ever-changing and complex situations, albeit with much greater consequences hinging on their actions. Many years ago the U.S. Army leadership recognized the urgent need to capture and share lessons learned from their operations around the world. With the creation of CALL, the U.S. Army now has a formal structure in place to share their strengths and train leaders on how to build on what works across a wide variety of mission settings (https://usacac.army.mil/organizations/mccoe/call).
Lessons learned about strengths are regularly shared in updated handbooks, such as handbooks for disaster response and guides for supporting refugee and displaced persons operations. CALL also shares what works with military personnel through five-day lessons-learned courses. Although most coaches won't have access to the same level of infrastructure and support as the U.S. Army does, coaches can create their own versions of lessons-learned handbooks. Furthermore, those responsible for helping coaches realize their strengths, such as athletics directors, should consider creating regular opportunities for coaches to share and discuss lessons learned.
I have found that recording coaches speaking about lessons learned from using their coaching strengths is a relatively simple and valuable way of storing and sharing local best practices. Coaches enjoy and are energized by speaking about their coaching strengths. In my applied research with high school coaches, we hold formal end-of-season meetings with each head coach to review strengths. After the meeting coaches are sometimes invited to share, in a three- to five-minute video, a lesson learned about using one of their coaching strengths. Coaches are then videotaped sharing their insights. The video is uploaded to a "coaching strengths coaching channel" using the free version of the Vimeo video-sharing platform (http://vimeo.com/fresnohscoachingchannel).
Similar lessons-learned and coaching strengths video libraries have been created by a wide range of sport coaching associations. Some, such as the American Football Coaches Association, provide open access to master coaches sharing their wisdom and shorter two-minute lessons learned. Others have created an extensive fee-based online video library of coaches sharing how they build successful programs. For example, the American Swimming Coaches Association has created a "sound coaching library" that offers access to presentations from their annual convention available for as low as $1.99 per audio podcast (https://swimmingcoach.org/product-category/audio/), and the American Baseball Coaches Association sells videos on demand at a higher rate covering a wide range of coaching topics delivered by baseball coaching experts (http:// abcavideos.org/). Finally, the What Drives Winning website is a valuable source for free videos of championship coaches across sports sharing some of the most valuable lessons learned over their distinguished careers (http://whatdriveswinning.com/#video-link).