For most of us, the biggest challenge we’ll face as coaches is trying to land a high-profile recruit, reframe a weakness your team has, or beat an insanely good team. But in 2010, Christy Johnson-Lynch faced a bigger challenge. She, her volleyball team, and the greater Iowa State University community experienced a debilitating flood…the week preseason was supposed to start. You can check out this twenty-second video to see what the water did to their gym. She ended up playing that season at a local high school.
So she has learned a thing or two about facing and overcoming challenges…both of the expected and unexpected variety.
Here are three tips Johnson-Lynch has to help us all deal with adversity when it strikes:
- Put a good face on. When I asked her about a big win her team had against a big-time opponent, she commented that your team really has to believe you think an obstacle can be beaten. She says that she wakes up and says to herself, “today is an amazing day, this is the day we’re going to beat insert-tough-opponent-here.” Your team can pick up on your belief, preparation, and body language…make sure it’s good.
- Embrace it. Johnson-Lynch says she and her team are driven by a “what’s next?” attitude. Meaning, okay, we’ve overcome this obstacle and we’re ready for whatever is coming up for us. Whether you walk into your gym and it’s covered in water or you have a five-foot-tall center on your basketball team, you understand that it’s just a challenge to be overcome.
- Look for the silver lining. When I asked her specifically about the flood, Johnson-Lynch actually said it was good for the team, because it helped them focus on what really mattered. I’m sure a lot of that statement is hindsight talking, but I’m also sure her mindset helped her players move forward.
Most times, challenging situations aren’t things we can readily change, so understanding how to frame them for our athletes is paramount. Coaches (obviously) have value. We teach the X’s and O’s and equip our athletes with the skills they need in order to compete. But the best thing we can teach our players is how to face and overcome adversity.
Join me in a series of interviews with successful coaches. I believe what we learn from our coaching peers can be applied to our teams, our recruiting efforts, and how we behave as professionals. These interviews will be less Q & A and much more philosophical in nature, keep coming back to see who I’m talking to and what they’ve got to say!