Since the beginning, I have always expressed to my athletes to compete, prepare, and think with positivity and passion. For me, coaching is simple. I have passion for helping others be great, many times exceeding their own personal expectations.
At age 16 I decided that I wanted to teach and coach. My mind has not changed since that day in 1996. If anything, it has been solidified even more and my personal desire and passion to help others has continually risen. I have often wondered why I obsess over it? Why do I crave it? Over the years, I have come up with some answers.
I have come to realize that I desire to coach, mentor, and lead others to their highest potential, hopes, and dreams because people did that for me. I had an art teacher named John Thomas who helped me understand that I was a genius in my own way. He compared me to many great renaissance artists and claimed in that era, I too would have been considered a genius. From that day on, I believed i owned a level of genius which I had never felt in my life. That same teacher convinced me that talent was wasted all around me, and I could choose waste my talents and genius, or I could put it to use and "DO SOMETHING with it." That day, I decided I would commit to "doing something" rather than wasting. He changed my vision of my self, my future, and my life. I have a passion to do the same for others. I jump at every chance I get to highlight someones strengths or genius, no matter what the outside world labels them as.
I also had two high school coaches that turned me to success in drastically different ways. The first, Gordon Mosson, who gave no shits about excuses. I remember his high expectations, his detail oriented preparation, his intense game talks, his explosive practice rampages, and most of all his passion for success. He drove me close to insanity at times telling me I had to go harder when I literally felt I had no more to give. Magically, I always found more...I always found more and became a starter on one of the best best basketball teams in school history. What great lessons he taught... 1) Be successful, no excuses. 2) Detailed Preparation. 3) Speak and Lead with Passion. 4) You have more in you than you realize, and it's okay for those who truly care about you to help pull it out of you.
Dennis Rippy was my track coach and he inspired me differently. His quiet and calm encouragement created an environment in which I wanted to impress him. He always made me feel like I had potential. His coaching style helped me become a person who self analyzed and created personal goals. At the exact same time he had a stringent expectation of doing the right thing. He wanted us to be great team members, honest people, and wanted his team to conduct themselves appropriately at all times. Because of his mentorship, I learned to enthusiastically chase goals and maintain character and morals along the way.
Several others played a role as well; College Coach Scott Fangman, my Father Dennis Clark, my Mother Arlene Clark, and certainly other teachers and professors along the way. But I have certainly found that High School Teachers and Coaches have a profound influence on young people. These influencers certainly shaped me and guided me to a life that would not have existed without them.
It is quite simple. I had people support me, guide me, mentor me, and push me to levels of success that would not have existed with out them. I hope to be that person for as many people as possible before my time is done. I love what I do because I love what those people did for me. I pay it forward every day and you better believe I love the product I pay for!
Basketball Coach John Wooden was known for many many sayings. One that has always stood out in my mind is, "If you don't have time to do it right, when will you have time to do it over again?". Coach Wooden is certainly one of the top coaches in the history of sport, and arguably the greatest basketball coach off all time. He built a program from scratch at UCLA and then led them to become a consistent top caliber program in the country. Wooden would go on to lead UCLA to 10 NCAA Championships in 10 years.
There is much to be learned from a coach like Wooden, as he was able to lead others to greatness, and then keep them there for an extended period of time. He is known for teaching his players about details as small as how to wear their socks to keep from getting blisters.
His quote has always intrigued me and I believe that it is important for athletes AND coaches! As I have now been in the coaching business for 16 years, I have witnessed a lot of really good coaching, average coaching, and bad coaching. And what I have come to realize is that very few athletes are expected to do things the right way, they are just expected to do a task. They are expected to do a dribbling drill, a sprint drill, a cutting drill, an exercise, etc. but they are not expected to do it to their best ability. As an example, a coach will tell athletes to go get their warm drills done but not watch them them, not critique them, and not motivate the athlete to pick up intensity. It sounds simple, but it's not. As a high school coach of a team as big as 90 athletes, I know it can be exhausting, repetitive, and feel pointless at times but I can insure you that it is worth every second. Getting your athletes to perfect movements, intensities, and having correct posture in warm up drills daily could be the difference between drastic improvements this coming season or minimal improvements this season. Take the time to make them do it right. The more you make that happen now, the less you have to worry about finding time to make it right later! Your athletes will be light years ahead at tournament time if you decide to take the time to do it the right way now and every day.
So next time you feel like just sending your athletes over to the corner for hurdle drills with no coaching, rethink it. Make time to go coach it up and get your athletes to refine every movement, every rep, every day. Next time you want to stand around with coaches during the team warmup drills, take the coaches with you and push your athletes to go through every movement with intensity.
One of my best friends in the coaching world is a man by the name of Rick Weinheimer. I coached with him for one year at Columbus North High School. He is, by far, the greatest leader I have ever worked with. Look him up! You will find that his success speaks for itself....several state medalists, state championship teams, national caliber teams, and has been nominated for national coach of the year several times.
We used to have some great conversations about coaching, track, leading, and HOW TO BE UNCOMMON! Most of our conversations came on Mondays, sitting at an Arby's table. They are certainly some of the most memorable conversations of my career, well actually, my life.
Common vs Uncommon:
Common people are willing to sleep in, hit the snooze everyday, sometimes several times. They are willing to let them minutes slip away rather than get up and prepare for success and their dreams.
Uncommon people set the alarm, tired or not, pop out of bed and go to it. They do what needs to be done from the get go!
Common people consistently procrastinate. They do this so they alway have the excuse to fail that they ran out of time.
Uncommon people time manage well. They manage so well that they have extra time to deal with hardships that arise. They leave time to perfect what they are working on.
Common people make excuses to not finish.
Uncommon people refuse to stop until they are finished.
Common people choose fun over work on a consistent basis, even if they know it could be detrimental to their ultimate goal.
Uncommon people understand that fun is important in life, but they fit it in. They do not let it distract from their ultimate goal.
Common people usually try to please others first, especially friends and family.
Uncommon people understand that they can't help others until they take care of themselves. "I don't know the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everyone!" -Bill Cosby
Common people stay in their comfort on a consistent basis. Uncommon people push out of their comfort zone consistently. They understand that getting out of their comfort zone will lead to other new opportunities in life.
Common people live day to day, just hoping to get to the next day until the weekend comes. They live five days to enjoy two days. Uncommon people use every day to do things that put them closer to their long term goals. They enjoy the challenges and successes each day.
Common people say "I can't". They come up with reasons to fail that keep them from ever starting. Uncommon people say, "I think I can" and they are not scared to go for it! They understand there is a chance for failure, but the chance for success outweighs it in there mind!
Change your mindset, change your life!!!!
-Coach Ernie Clark
This background speech has been an inspiration to me over and over! Every once in awhile, I go back to it just to see if it still has an impact on me...and IT DOES! This is the first time that I have seen it placed with Lebron and the NBA championship, but I do think it is very fitting.
Coaches, this drive to be successful is just as important for us as it is for our athletes. We must find ways to improve as teachers of our sport. We must seek out inspiration and motivation so that we can inspire and motivate more effectively. We have to want to succeed as much as we want to breathe... and in turn, our athletes will give that right back!
Thank you Eric Thomas the Hip Hop Preacher for your inspiration over and over again!
As I read Alan Stein's tweet, 'I estimate close to 75% of passes in youth basketball are bad. As the legendary Tates Locke said, 'most young players can't even pass gas.' I immediately thought about the coaches that allow the bad passes. Alan Stein's tweet does not stop in the sport of basketball. It seems that at all levels, too many coaches allow low skill level and lack of fundamental skill if the result is winning, a false sense of success.
I believe that we as coaches need to continue to find every way possible to improve our athletes in all areas, and the number one way to do that is technique. It starts in the simplest of exercises! Getting posture correct in drills. Keeping body positions while lifting weights. Starting and sprinting with technique. If the small things are done with technique, the big things start to happen with technique. Technique (essentially body control) is one of the key components to improving in ALL of athletics!
Start today with more technique focus in every aspect of training and I guarantee you will see an improvement on the track, court and field. Focus on one technical aspect this week to improve on. Touch on it each week and watch things improve!
Put less focus on getting over hurdles fast and put more emphasis on the fundamentals of take off for the hurdle. Focus on the motion of the lead leg and perfect it. Focus on keeping the hips square as the hurdler is in hurdle flight. Put a great deal of interest on getting the lead leg down and driving the trail knee to the front. Etc, etc, etc...
Be technically correct in the little things, and the big things will statrt to take care of them