Friday, October 28, 2011

InSideOut Coaching

In December of 2006 a colleague gave me a copy of “Season of Life” by Jeffrey Marx. It told the story of Coach Joe Ehrmann from Baltimore, Maryland and his pilgrimage through an abusive childhood, college and professional football, drug and alcohol abuse, the crushing death of his brother and eventually to recovery, ministry and transformational coaching of a high school football team. I was deeply moved and recommended the book strongly to many of my friends in coaching with remarkable results. In the ensuing years I met Coach Ehrmann, spoke with him a few times and then had him come to my area for a coaching conference and to speak at my FCA banquet, just eighteen months ago.

In August of this year, Coach Ehrmann released a book of his own. “InSideOut Coaching – How Sports Can Transform Lives” is published by Simon and Schuster and is among the best reading and most applicable book on coaching I’ve ever read. Coach Ehrmann does a tremendous job of describing the difference between being a “Transactional Coach” and a “Transformational Coach” along with a process for making the change from one to the other.

Part I describes the InSideOut Process as experienced by Coach Ehrmann and which, if one has the courage, can lead to a transformed life and renewed coaching.

Chapter headings include:

• Stepping Inside

• My Heroes have always been coaches

• A Complex Transaction

• The Play’s the Thing

• The Why: The Way and The How

Part II describes the InSideOut Program as Coach Ehrmann has presented in countless talks, workshops and conversations with coaches across the USA.

Chapter headings include:

• Community: A Team Without Walls

• The Classroom After Class: Sports as Curricular

• Contact, Communicate, Connect

• “Just Win Baby”

• Ceremony

More often than not, coaching books are full of sport success stories, but applicable ideas for making changes in one’s coaching habits, practices and even core beliefs are sorely absent. This book provides incredibly candid self-revelation of the author’s painful childhood and its long lasting effects as well as a well-defined process for dealing with one’s own past, a way to define and shape his coaching as well as practical examples for how to live out one’s transformed life as a “transformational coach.”

I highly recommend this book to anyone coaching at any level of sport. It would also be of tremendous value to those who serve as Sport Chaplains, Sport Mentors and Character Coaches as we need to examine why and how we coach the hearts of sportspeople.

For more information, see these web sites:  

Friday, October 21, 2011

Chapel Talk or Devotion Writing Process

Over the last weeks I have received several emails from sport chaplains who were looking for ideas related to preparing brief, direct talks with their teams. Below is an outline which describes the process I have used for several years in writing such talks and/or devotional thoughts on paper. I hope it’s helpful to you.

Devotion / Chapel Talk Writing Process Outline

1) Study and pray

a. Do your own devotional reading, (this is the source for most of my talks and writing)

b. Personal study of Scripture

c. Sport related books and periodicals (biographies, sports magazines, etc…)

d. See the sport related situations in Bible texts

i. Game-day situations in competition

ii. Player to player relationship dynamics

iii. Player / coach relationship dynamics

iv. Leadership issues

v. Pain / injury / loss / isolation

vi. Victory / passion / excitement / community

vii. Teamwork vs. individualism

viii. Work ethic / sacrifice

ix. Respect for coaches, teammates, opponents, officials

x. Personal development

e. Identify particular texts and their sport related “front doors.”

f. Simply outline scriptural applications of the scripture to the sport situations.

2) Write and pray

a. Develop a question or a series of questions related to the “front door” which will help the reader to recall an experience from his/her life in sport.

b. Within the opening paragraph, write a sentence which builds a bridge from the sport situation in the chosen text of scripture to the “front door” situation which it illustrates.

c. In a new paragraph, insert the Bible text in quotes and then paraphrase it in sport vernacular if it seems necessary or helpful.

d. In a new paragraph, insert the simple outline of application points directly to the sport situation.

e. Summarize in a final paragraph including a suggestion for prayer.

3) Points of emphasis

a. Write in light of your readers and their particular sport culture.

b. Write with a clear understanding of the mode of delivery. (Will this be read privately, read out loud or delivered by a speaker?)

c. Communicate respect and passion for the sport as well as for the scripture. Lead them to love God and to compete greatly.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Newspaper Article

This is a link to an article which describes the Team Chapel process and my work with Saluki Football at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, Illinois.  I hope it's of value to you and your work.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Jesus as Good Luck Charm

The batter steps into the box with one foot, pulls the crucifix from within his jersey, presses it to his lips and then prepares to hit. The running back takes a knee on the sideline, removes his helmet and bows his head. He silently prays for God’s help in securing a win and then makes the sign of the cross at his chest. The sport chaplain paces the sideline with his lucky Bible securely nestled in his beltline asking God for a victory and a championship, oh yeah, so the Lord would be glorified and so on.

Each of these situations stand right on the edge, if not slightly over the edge, of treating Jesus as a good luck charm. I have personally witnessed these and more like them. I have found the same occasionally in my own heart and have been convicted of my own foolishness. The men and women of sport are certainly prone to superstitions and we who serve Christ in sport are not immune to the culture’s bent.

Let’s consider more expressions of “religion” in sport which can either be genuine devotion or may be superstition. Some may be both.

• Kissing one’s cross or crucifix necklace prior to a sport activity, like a plate appearance in baseball

• Saying the Lord’s prayer prior to games

• Carrying a Bible on the sideline

• Praying a particular prayer or uttering a “can’t fail” prayer cliché on the pitch

• Writing scripture references or entire verses on one’s shoes, wrist bands, eye black, tape or even in tattoos

• Pointing to the sky in celebration of a big play

• Attending pre-game chapel

• Asking the team chaplain to pray with me prior to a big game

• Wearing a WWJD bracelet

• Wearing one’s “lucky tee shirt” from a Christian sport camp under his team jersey or kit

• The list could go on for a good while…

The principle to consider is at what point does ritual overtake relationship? When does one substitute device over devotion? We must be mindful of the propensity of the human heart to seek advantage over one’s opponent and to use whatever means are necessary to win. Be careful to not let sincere expressions of faith and trust in Christ Jesus become perverted and reduced to mindless ritual or foolish superstition.

I really don’t think the Lord cares one way or another about who wins any particular sport contest. I do, however, sincerely believe that it very much matters to Him how we compete and how we express our devotion to Him by how we apply our faith in Christ in the sporting world. Let’s not reduce Jesus to being a good luck charm. Rather, let’s honor Him as the Lord God of creation and experience his life, love, presence and pleasure as we reflect His nature in sport.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Team Building - Final Installment

This is the final entry in a series of this year’s Team Building with Saluki Football. I hope it’s of value to you. If you would like the entire outline, please email me and I’ll be pleased to send it to you.

Summary of Team Building – C-H-A-M-P-S

• Courage and Character

• Hunger and Humility

• Attitude and Ambition

• Motivation and Mentors

• Poise and Perseverance

• Strength and Skill

Expectations and Commitments

• Write down and discuss with your teammates what you expect from your team this season.

Team Expectations:


• Write and discuss with your teammates what you expect from yourself related to preparation, game-day performance, academics and off-field conduct.

Personal Expectations:


• Write and discuss with your teammates what you expect from particular members of the team related to leadership, productivity and key roles on game-days.

I expect ______________ to ____________________________________.

I expect ______________ to ____________________________________.

I expect ______________ to ____________________________________.

I expect ______________ to ____________________________________.

• Write and discuss among yourselves to what you will commit related to your role on this team.

In my role as a Saluki Football player, I will commit to: ____________________________________________________________________________

“CHAMPS” – Goal Setting

1) On a 1 – 10 scale, grade yourself on each of these characteristics of CHAMPS: (1 = poor, 10 = excellent)

_____ Courage and Character

_____ Hunger and Humility

_____ Attitude and Ambition

_____ Motivation and Mentors

_____ Poise and Perseverance

_____ Strength and Skill

2) For the 2 lowest rated items, what can you do today and this week to improve in those categories? (Write your first thoughts here…)


3) What is your individual performance goal for Game 1? (Write down a goal that leads to team success and two training points which will lead to its fulfillment.)


4) What is your individual performance goal for this non-conference season? (Write down a goal that leads to team success and two training points which will lead to its fulfillment.)


5) What is your academic performance goal for the first six weeks of the semester? (Write down a goal that leads to academic achievement and three points of action which will lead to such success.)