Are You For Real?

I am a thinker. On long drives I do some of my best thinking. For the holidays I take a month long journey up the East Coast visiting relatives and friends, then finish up the journey by speaking at the 2016 NSCAA Convention.

On December 23rd I drove 12 hours. I spent quite a bit of time thinking about the coaches that will attend my session in Baltimore. You see, I think about you before you come. Some of you I know and some of you I don’t know. Either way, I think about what your year has been like.  What has been meaningful to you?  Are you living on purpose?  Are you fulfilled in life? All these things matter and grow out of who you are at your core.

Then I think about your players. Who are they? What has their life been like before playing for you? What are they “carrying”? What do they need?

We are all “human”. Inside each of us is a human spirit that can achieve great things and be something very special. Coaches and players are ‘people first’. We coach out of who we are on the inside. Players play out of who they are on the inside.  To get the most out of our players we have to connect with that ‘person’ on the inside. Part of coaching is growing people. It is that person, that human spirit inside your player who is loyal. Your favorite passing pattern is not going to be loyal to you. That system you play is not committed to you…PEOPLE have these capacities.  People are brave. People are committed. People are driven. It is the ‘person’ inside the player that makes the difference.

Everything comes from your core…who you are. That’s why it is so important for coaches to look in the mirror, own our story and be authentic about emotions, thoughts, and our humanity in general.  Humanity is hard-wired for connection and it is through connection that each of us finds meaning. We must be authentic in our connection with players. People give more of themselves when they know a leader is being REAL. Isn’t that what we want….to get more out of our players? First, we need to get more out of ourselves.

My topic for the NSCAA convention in Baltimore…

Are You For Real? How Authenticity Guides Players To Greatness.

Coaches, let’s not hide behind our wins & losses or behind our resumes or anything else for that matter. Who you are each day is more important than what you do. Who you are in a training session is more important than the technical drill that you run. Your players want to know the real you. They want the authentic YOU. Your influence is far greater than any passing pattern, drill, system, or free kick play.

Dig into your own story and learn how being authentic in your life can bring out the best in your players. It takes you being brave before expecting your players to be brave.


© 2015 Donna Fishter Consulting, LLC

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Is It Necessary To Train Your Leaders?

[Article 3 of NSCAA 2015 Series]
At the National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) Convention this year I spent some time with about 500 coaches discussing how we go about “Training and Empowering Team Leaders”. This series of articles on my blog will walk you through my presentation and unpack even more how we can be intentional about this topic.

As coaches we need to keep in mind two “radical” thoughts. First, we are in the PEOPLE business, not the soccer business. Second, we need to look at ourselves as COACHES first and then place ourselves inside the realm of our sport. A coach moves people from one place to another, empowering growth, and not allowing anyone to be stagnant.

The development and growth has to be all encompassing and not just focused on the x’s and o’s. We need to train our athletes in any and every area necessary to help make them better. That’s why I am very passionate about training leaders.leadership 01Considered a world leadership expert, John Maxwell believes, “everything rises and falls on leadership.” So as coaches, why would we ignore this idea when it comes to our teams and players? I heard a coach say, “we weren’t successful because we had no leaders.” Well my answer to that is, “yes, obviously…and that starts by looking in the mirror.” To me if a team has no leaders, that’s our fault as coaches.

We must train our leaders and help them be influencers. A team’s success will be based on whether or not the team leaders actually lead and have influence.

Here are 3 reasons why we should train our team leaders.

LEADERS are the Lid of the team.
On a scale of 1-10, 10 being the best and 1 being the worst, on any given day if your leaders are a 6 then your team will only be a 6. The people in an organization will very rarely ever surpass the level of its leaders, therefore the leaders are a lid in the organization. The same is true for players on our teams. Our leaders must raise their level so that their teammates can follow.

LEADERS are the Engine of the team.
The energy and momentum on any given day needs to come from the leaders. They are the catalyst to the process and product.

LEADERS shape the culture of the team.
A team’s culture is comprised of the beliefs and behaviors of the group. If any of these beliefs or behaviors need to be shifted or new norms implemented all of this is accomplished through the leaders. Everyday leaders are shaping the culture of the team, whether positively or negatively. Train your leaders so that you have the culture you need for success.

Don’t get caught using the “lack of leadership” excuse?
Be intentional and start today training your leaders.

Next Article: What content and topics to start with…

© 2015 Donna Fishter Consulting, LLC

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Another Radical Thought About Your Job

[Article 2 of NSCAA 2015 Series]
At the National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) Convention this year I spent some time with about 500 coaches discussing how we go about “Training and Empowering Team Leaders”. This series of articles on my blog will walk you through my presentation and unpack even more how we can be intentional about this topic.

You are not in the “Soccer Business”, you are in the “People Business”. That is the first radical thought I started this series with. This forever changed the way I approached my job and I hope it will change the way you approach yours.

The second radical thought I want you to consider… this is YOU.


I’m a dictionary fanatic. I obviously know the definition of a word but I will look it up just for kicks to see what Oxford or Webster has to say about it! One day I was sitting in my office and I decided to look up “soccer coach”. I started by looking up the word “coach”. And it has since changed everything about the way I approach my job.

I always introduced myself as a soccer coach but if I truly believed I was in the people business then I needed to cross out the word soccer and realize I was a COACH first. The soccer part, well that was just second.

Back in the ol’ days this stage-coach was a vehicle. It moved people from one point to another. And that’s exactly what I am as a COACH. I move PEOPLE from one point to another. I don’t allow them to stay where they are. I help them grow and move forward.

A good friend and colleague heard me talk about this and he wrote down in his notes…“I am a coach. I move people through stages of life”. And then he looked up from his notes and laughed saying, “hey Big D… I’m a stage coach, I move people through the stages of life… get it?” We had a good laugh and I told Matt Cosinuke (University of Cincinnati Assistant Women’s Soccer Coach) I was stealing that and adding it to my presentations. Thanks Matt!

As a COACH, it is about helping move the whole person from where he/she currently is to the next stop on the journey. The performance of a player comes out of who he or she is not just talent and skill.

So no matter what your players need to become a better person, a better athlete, a better teammate, a better leader… it’s your job as a COACH to provide help and movement towards the goal.

How can you be a COACH (stage-coach) today
in the life of one of your players?

Next Article: What’s the WHY behind training your team leaders?

© 2015 Donna Fishter Consulting, LLC

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A Radical Thought

[Article 1 of NSCAA 2015 Series]
At the National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) Convention this year I spent some time with about 500 coaches discussing how we go about “Training and Empowering Team Leaders”. This series of articles on my blog will walk you through my presentation and unpack even more how we can be intentional about this topic.

I need to set the stage a bit before getting into specifics about training and empowering team leaders. I want to start by sharing two thoughts that could radically change the way you approach your job.


Pat Summit – Tennessee Women’s Basketball

First, you are NOT in the soccer business. I know this comes as a surprise. Honestly, you are in the PEOPLE business. It would be fantastic if we could say the 4-3-3 or the passing pattern we did last week at practice brought us the wins. All the strategies in the world will not move you past this mere fact…you win with PEOPLE. I saw an interview with Pat Summit, the legendary women’s basketball coach at Tennessee, and when she said “you win with people” it changed everything in my coaching career. The best soccer strategy out there cannot win a match if 11 people out on the pitch are not all on the same page, trusting each other, working hard for each other, dealing with their ‘self’ issues, focusing on the team definition of success.

Each player comes to you with their own emotions, perceptions, assumptions, backgrounds, upbringing, childhood experiences that shaped the way they live, etc.

This list could go on and on. As a coach my job is to get all of these unique individuals to believe in each other, perform consistently at a high level and pursue the team’s vision of success. This is not easy. Because it’s not easy, coaches sometimes rely too much on the soccer strategy when in reality, if we just looked at our players as people, we might be given hints as to how to get the wins and get to the next level.

When you look at your players, do you see SOCCER PLAYERS or PEOPLE? I challenge you to see your players first as PEOPLE and consider how you can influence them on a personal level and also on a collective level. Intentional focus on the “intangibles” will be worth it. I promise.

Next Article: Another radical thought that could change the way you approach your job

© 2015 Donna Fishter Consulting, LLC

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What is Team Culture?

by Donna Fishter
team1The phrase ‘team culture’ is often times used synonymously with team chemistry, team building, and teamwork. All four are high priority, but are they the same thing? After a lot of thinking, I have concluded that these concepts are similar… but different. Team chemistry, team building, and teamwork are necessary parts to the whole of team culture. Here is my vantage point.

Team chemistry is a product of getting along. It’s about how your players ‘combine’. What happens when they get together in the same room or on the field or court together? I always think of chemistry class where we combine different chemicals and get a reaction. Will the chemicals be compatible or will there be an explosion? For me, team chemistry is mainly about how the players combine in the same space and the reactions that take place. Are the players getting along? Are they able to combine forces and work together?

Teamwork is what they do together… how they function together to work towards a goal. It’s the concept of ‘we before me’.  It is everyone working together to achieve success.

Team building is an event that reveals different qualities about individual players and/or the team as a whole. It’s the challenging and sometimes fun exercises we do to build our knowledge about the personalities on the team. Planning a team building session allows coaches to gather information. Team building can help coaches predict team chemistry.

So how is team culture different than these?

Leadership guru, John Maxwell says…
“The most important aspect of an
organization is culture.”

Culture is simply defined as the ‘beliefs and behaviors of a group of people’.  Thus Maxwell is saying the beliefs and behaviors of your players are the most important aspect of your team. What do your players believe about themselves? What do they believe about you as their coach? What do they believe about the team? And then how do they behave based on the answers to these questions. What are their habits when they are together and when they are alone? I’ve had coaches ask me, “Can I really change what a person believes?” YES you can! And it is a MUST if you want to be successful.

Coaches are leaders who can intentionally mold and shape the beliefs and behaviors of their players. Team culture is created when the true essence of a team is clearly defined, when a strategy for success is accepted, and when a sense of belonging ignites ownership in the final results.

In the weeks ahead I will be sharing some key ideas that will help you mobilize a strong team culture. This is the edge to gaining a competitive advantage.

© 2013 Donna Fishter Consulting, LLC

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