Borton's Blueprint: Empowering, inspiring and motivating
By Greg Bach
Pam Borton, winner of more than 300 games as a former Division I women’s basketball coach, knows the life-changing impact coaches at all levels can have on their players.
“It’s a privilege to be a coach because you are able to make a difference and impact so many people’s lives,” says Borton, author of ON POINT: A coach’s game plan for life, leadership, and performing with grace under fire. “And your responsibility is to empower, inspire and motivate these kids.”
That’s a worthy trifecta for coaches to aim for with any youth sports team.
And at any level.
So, are you ready to be a difference maker with your team?
In this part-memoir, part-guidebook, Borton shares her story about success, failure and what it means to be an elite leader – and she holds nothing back.
“I think a lot of people write about their successes and all the wonderful things that they did but not very many people write about the mistakes and failures of leadership and I think that’s really what people want to read,” she says. “We’ve all made mistakes, we’ve all failed.”
As March Madness hits full speed we caught up with Borton to talk coaching, where she took her teams to a Final Four, three Sweet Sixteens and numerous tournament appearances. Check out what she shared about cultivating confidence in kids, connecting with players, and more below; and visit her website to learn more about her work as a nationally renowned expert and in-demand speaker on developing leaders and teams.
MISTAKES MATTER – THEY’RE GOOD TO SEE!
Kids hate making mistakes during practices, but that’s exactly what coaches need to see happening.
“We want them to make mistakes,” Borton says. “When they are making mistakes we know as a coach that they are going as hard as they possibly can.”
So as long as players understand the value of a mistake they will be less likely to dwell on them, or let them drag down their enthusiasm for competing.
“I think it’s really important to educate players about what it means to make a mistake and encourage them to make them,” she says. “Making mistakes and failing means that you are growing and you are going to improve and increase your skill level and your confidence with the more mistakes that you make.”
RE-BOOTING SLUGGISH PRACTICES
One of the constants of coaching – regardless if you have guided youth sports teams for many years, or are new to the sidelines, is that not every practice goes smoothly.
There will be times where certain drills flop, or the kids’ enthusiasm vanishes for any number of reasons.
“If you’re in the middle of practice and things start going downhill you have to be able to adjust as a coach on the fly,” Borton says. “I would make the drills shorter or more intense to keep them engaged, and keep things moving quickly.”
To help prevent sluggish practices it is crucial that coaches show up with high energy and lots of enthusiasm, regardless of any turbulence going on in their personal lives.
“As a coach it was my responsibility to bring the energy every day,” Borton says. “I had to be upbeat and ready to go because your team and your kids feed off of you.”
CREATING CONFIDENT PLAYERS
Running quality practices is important for all sorts of reasons, including bolstering the confidence of players.
“It’s about pointing out the strengths in each individual instead of pointing out and talking about all the things that they can’t do,” she says. “It’s about building their self-image and their self-talk that’s in their minds. They have to really believe in themselves and be true to themselves and as a coach you have to help instill that confidence in them so they can take that next step.”
DIALING UP DISCUSSIONS THAT INVOLVE EVERYONE
Borton recommends spending time with your players discussing what a team is, and how everybody’s role is important.
“Have them define what a successful team looks like,” she says. “Now that I am on the other side of things coaching executives I probably would have involved my kids in more discussions talking about what a high-performing team looks like. Not everybody is going to be able to score 20 points a game; you’re going to need a great screener, great passers, great defenders and great bench strength. From No. 1 down to No. 15 is equally important and it’s educating players and talking to them about it and including them in the discussions and making them understand that all those roles are very valuable to the team.”
Olympic swimming great Dana Vollmer, winner of five gold medals, challenges coaches of all youth sports to find the most effective ways to motivate all their young athletes
Olympic gold medalist Misty Hyman on empowering and inspiring young athletes
Antonio Pierce, Super Bowl champion and linebackers coach at Arizona State, on pinpointing motives and inspiring young athletes to be their best
Monique Henderson, Olympic track great and college coach, on chasing improvement one fun-filled step at a time