Coaching and Peripheral Vision

The point of coaching is to draw a greater performance out of the athlete than they  would be capable of otherwise. It is to take the drive that is inside a person and, in a team environment, create a performance that is better than would be expected. Coaching is a primal form of leadership because there is a direct and measurable result that can be employed to gauge effectiveness. Great coaches win, poor coaches lose and get fired.

Demonstrative and negative coaches get a lot of attention; demonstrative and negative pastors get a lot of attention. When seeing a picture of Bobby Knight in a red sweater every sports fan over 30 will immediately think of the time he threw a red chair across the court. He was negative and very demonstrative and we remember it. From this memory we create a perception of his coaching abilities, either good or bad. What no one actually remembers is what happened in the particular game. We don’t know any of the players or how they were performing during that game. The negativity takes, in fact, all of the attention and they game itself becomes secondary. This happens every time a baseball manager abandons all control and begins throwing bases. We couldn’t even tell you the score of the game in that moment because this incredible negativity has taken all of the attention.

And coaches aren’t the only ones! As a frequent youth sports coach, I can attest to both positive and negative emotional pleas from parents. It’s the negative ones that get noticed, and steal the attention from the game and the kids.

Negative emotions from a coach actually have a negative effect on a coached person’s team attitude, loyalty and personal development. Dr. Barbara Fredrickson (author of Positivity: The Upward Spiral that Will Change Your Life) has research that shows positive emotions actually expand a player’s awareness and reception of information, making them more resilient and creative in their actions.

Fredrickson goes on to say (quoting from Sept.28, 2015 Sports Illustrated), “Positive emotions are especially contagious…and a leader’s positive emotions are more contagious than anyone else’s.” The positive attitude of coaches and parents for an athlete actually improve a player’s physical performance. Athletes who feel better about their playing environment will win more.There is credible research done by Fredrickson’s University (UNC) pointing to an increase in peripheral vision when they are experiencing positive emotions.

So, when you are angrily yelling at that player for not seeing the open teammate on the wing you are ensuring that it will happen again.

Here’s what this means:

  • When you are coaching and/or observing youth sports/arts/performance, your contribution to positive emotions actually improves their physical abilities
  • When you angrily respond to player performance you are actually decreasing their physical ability and increasing the probability of a negative result being repeated.

This, of course, goes beyond youth and sports (though it makes the biggest difference in this arena). A leader/coach in an educational, employment and/or religious environment can expect to have similar results according to the positive or negative environment they create through their coaching style.

So, before your player heads out onto the field next game, take a moment and create some positive emotions so they can enjoy an even better game.



Why I won’t give up on Mark Driscoll

Last year one of my favorite authors (who has a lot of influence in my life and theology), Rob Bell published Love Wins, a book about hell and heaven and where we are all going. It got all sorts of press and I got a silly blog traffic boost by blogging about the book. At the same time, I read a post on TSK’s blog (link in the sidebar) about how and why emergers won’t easily give up on Bell, which I resonated with. There’s no way I would just give up on Rob Bell, or tweet a farewell like Piper did. I totally disagree with his conclusions on hell, but why would that be enough of a reason to be, quoting Dan in Real life (one of the top 14 movies of all time), a murderer of love?

This year, one of my favorite authors (who has a lot of influence in my life and theology), Mark Driscoll published Real Marriage, a book about marriage relationships. He wrote the book with his wife and got raked over the coals for some of their views on marriage. There’s even stuff in the book that I don’t think I agree with, but I don’t feel like Driscoll is sitting at his computer, waiting to see if I like him or not.  Why would a guy’s wonky views on marriage be enough of a reason to be (again) a murderer of love?

I think I’m getting fed up with Christians whose greatest contribution is letting the whole world know who the bad guys are (I’m sure I’ve been guilty of this in the past, and it just isn’t helpful – to me or to the whole world). At the end of this ride, I’m going to have to hang out with Jesus for all eternity and I want to have a better conversation opener than, “Hey Jesus, aren’t you glad I warned all those people about the holes in pastors’ theologies? I pretty much blogged the church into awesomeness. No need to thank me Jesus, just the look on your face is thanks enough.”

I haven’t spouted off a good rant lately, so there you have it. I’m stopping now because I’m getting borderline self-righteous, which would cause me to write a blog slamming myself.

Higher Education needs a Revamping

On October 29th, Seth Godin posted this on his blog and I thought it was so spot on that I had to post the whole thing here:


College costs a fortune. It takes a lot of time and it takes a lot of money.

When a professor assigns you to send a blogger a list of vague and inane interview questions (“1. How did you get started in this field? 2. What type of training (education) does this field require? 3. What do you like best about your job? 4. what do you like least about your job?”) I think you have an obligation to say, “Sir, I’m going to be in debt for ten years because of this degree. Perhaps you could give us an assignment that actually pushes us to solve interesting problems, overcome our fear or learn something that I could learn in no other way…”

When a professor spends hours in class going over concepts that are clearly covered in the textbook, I think you have an obligation to repeat the part about the debt and say, “perhaps you could assign this as homework and we could have an actual conversation in class…”

When you discover that one class after another has so many people in a giant room watching a tenured professor far far in the distance, perhaps you could mention the debt part to the dean and ask if the class could be on video so you could spend your money on interactions that actually changed your life.

The vast majority of email I get from college students is filled with disgust, disdain and frustration at how backwards the system is. Professors who neither read nor write blogs or current books in their field. Professors who rely on marketing textbooks that are advertising-based, despite the fact that virtually no professional marketers build their careers solely around advertising any longer. And most of all, about professors who treat new ideas or innovative ways of teaching with contempt.

“This is costing me a fortune, prof! Push us! Push yourself!”

Not even chocolate covered bacon?

When I went to Houston in 2002 I got to attend Joel Osteen’s little church.  I wanted to go because I was so impressed with Osteen’s hand motions while he preached.  He is so efficient and purposeful in his gesturing.  His theology, on the other hand, is straight whack.

Here’s the best little clip of his that I have ever seen:

I guess there won’t be much demand for bacon burgers at the next church picnic…

McKnight, A Community Called Atonement 3

The third section of McKnight’s book on atonement theologies takes time to look at the development of atonement theology through Jesus, Paul and the early theologians.

In the section on Jesus, McKnight talks about the choice to have the crucifixion of Christ tied to the Passover rather than the Day of Atonement.  It has great implications concerning the metaphors that God was using to communicate to mankind.  McKnights continued pursuit of the use of metaphors is insightful.

Then Pauline atonement theology is considered.  Paul tended to lean on judicial metaphors and McKnight deals with the benefits and limitations of atonement theology developing through a judicial metaphor.

Finally, McKnight works through Irenaeus and Athanasius, early theologians who are often overlooked (Two men who, I believe, could contribute greatly to a reformation of holiness theology to make it relevant to today’s culture.).  Unfortunately, the people who have paid the most attention to Irenaus and Athanasius have created cults by taking their thoughts to ridiculous extremes.  McKnight does a splendid job trying to take back these great theologians from cultic nutjobs.

Autumn is beautiful

Today I have decided to let the world know that I love autumn. I could live in autumn for all eternity.

Fall, on the other hand, sucks. Fall is dumb.

Autumn is beautiful.

Good to Great Parenting

So today as I left LJ’s school after droping him off I was walking back out to my minivan (which is my cultural ticket to the underground world of PTA) there were two things that struck me.

First, the moms don’t say hello to me.  Perhaps they are intimidated by my striped hoodie of super-cool thick rimmed glasses, but they just don’t say hello.  I would, in fact, go so far as to say about half of the mom’s actually look really angry.  Upon returning home to play Trouble with lil’ K, I told my wife, Heather, to make sure she smiles and says hello when she’s at Lj’s school.  She told me that the mom’s aren’t smiling because they had to do all the work in the morning and the husbands just drop them off.  Heather is what I call a Proverbs 31, version 2 woman.  She makes the Proverbs 31 woman look like a rook.

Perhaps she is right.  Either way, some church needs to start a ministry where they hand out coffees at the local school as parents drop their kids off.  If they are a cult-church they could lace the coffee with Prozac.  Just an idea…

Secondly, as I was walking down the hall I passed another dad dropping off his daughter.  Since he had two rocking sleeves of tattoos I knew a warm cuddly hug was out of order, so I gave him the standard man grunt greeting combined with a head nod.  It was the perfect cultural interaction between two dad’s trying to prove they are too cool for school.  His daughter proceeds to announce, “That’s LJ’s dad!”  To which the dad has no response.  This was a reminder to me that I am entering a long (and have been for a while) season in my life where I am fully living my life on behalf of someone else, my family.  This is, in my mind, the image of marriage and family that the Bible talks about, so it’s a privilege for me to be able to be used by God for other people with my last name.  My family, especially my children, are not my way of re-living out my life, or succeeding in areas where I sucked the first time through.  My kids will never win the game/pass the test/get first place for daddy.  That kind of stuff makes me want to puke.

I see multple implications here, the biggest of which is the need to be teaching parents what biblical marriage is and how to biblically lead a family.  Too many times I have heard, “the husband is the head of the family” and I look at the husband and he has no idea what the Bible teaches, has no intention of laying out his life for his wife and no clue on how to raise godly children.  Church leaders need to recognize this and not just sit on their hands, while moms and dads with good intentions continue to screw up succeeding generations.  Understand clearly – this, in my mind, is not a blame question.  However, some people need to look for blame and if anyone should take it, it’s the leaders (like me).  If the people don’t know the Scriptures, who’s to blame if not those charged with teaching them?

So, while I am not in a position to develop this right now, I think there needs to be a series created (and then distibuted freely – if the author needs money they can put it in a book) to teach Christian parents what the Bible says about them and their families.

I would suggest the following resources:

  • The Bible
  • Chap Clark’s Hurt
  • Jim Collins’ Good to Great
  • References to the National Study on Youth and Religion
  • Kenda Creasy Dean’s Practicing Passion
  • Oswald Sanders’ Spiritual Leadership
  • Henry Blackaby’s Spiritual Leadership
  • Jeff and Ken Gangel’s Fathering Like the Father
  • Brennan Manning’s The Ragamuffin Gospel
  • and any Douglas Coupland book as collateral reading.

So, that’s my rant for today, brought to you by angry soccer moms and a tattoo’d dad.