Head Coaches- Rob Cooper and Steve Owens on how to communicate with players and build relationships, the recruiting process, and building culture

May 17, 2020

May 17, 2020

Today we have on Head Coach Rob Cooper from Penn State and Steve Owens from Rutgers


In this episode we have over 40 years of bead coaching experience between the two, so we dive into lessons learned, how to communicate with players, how to build relationships and how the formula for recruiting and the process of building culture changes year to year and especially program to program.


Here is Rob Cooper and Steve Owens!




Show notes courtesy of Zach Casto

    • We need to realize the mentors that helped shape us into wanting to coach. 
    • “I want to impact young people and baseball is a great vehicle to do that.”
    • Some of the best learning environments are one-on-one questioning environments. 
  • You can learn a lot in group settings, videos, podcasts, and books but one on one settings can give you feedback to your questions. 
  • Be a role model for your athletes. Expect that out of your assistant coaches as well. 
  • If you love what you do, you will never lose your passion. 
  • Understand the circumstances of the area and program you are joining/taking over. 
  • Depending on your career and relationships, you may be able to bring your assistants with you to the new program. 
  • The hardest thing to do is on the transition is saying goodbye to your players from your prior program. 
  • “Do this with as much class as possible.”
  • “It’s okay to look back, but don’t look back too long.”
  • Dive into the new program and find out your players first. 
  • “You can’t change a lot in the first year.”
  • During the first year get to know your athletes as people, their strengths, and their weaknesses. 
  • The most important thing is getting to know the players, then understand the operating sequence and schedule of the school you are at. 
  • Little by little you will make changes. 
  • “You need to watch, listen, and learn a lot before you start making changes with athletes.”
  • Have patience during this time. 
  • Don’t change what works well for the athlete, change what needs to be changed. 
  • “The games are the test.”
    • Practice provides the homework and the lessons. 
    • Some of the things you learn come from experience. 
  • Take a step back and reflect upon some of the challenges of the situation you are in. 
  • Recognize the strengths you have at the place you are at and maintain those strengths. 
  • Try to strengthen the weaknesses of the place as best as possible. 
  • You are going to have a culture with whatever you do. It is up to the leader to ensure that the culture is a strong one. If not, the culture will be weak.
    • It comes down to the players. We can set them up for the best situation possible, but it is up to the players to execute the plan and give 100% effort. 
  • “You have to find out what you are working with and find a way to win with what you have.”
  • “You have to be authentic with who you are and to be consistent for your audience.”
  • “How does the athlete learn best? What motivates the player?” (Find these out and pay attention to answer these questions).
    • Be simplistic with the terms you use when you teach. 
  • Have your players email back what they took away from the conversation with you. (Give them 24 hours).
  • You learn: 1. The interpretation of the athlete. 2. What got lost in translation. 
    • “We want our players to learn how to be their own best coach.”
  • “If you have to try to do things like someone else, it is not going to work.”
  • Take pieces of information from others that you like, but make it your own so it works out. 
    • As coaches we have to be a motivator and effective communicator. 
  • “Surround yourself with people who are as motivated as you to succeed.”
  • “You want to be able to allow the athlete to grow.”
    • You are not doing a great job if you have to motivate every day.”
  • Players need to come to practice and provide energy. 
  • “If you want it more than they do then they won’t reach their goals. 
  • “Failure is growth. It is the pathway to learning.”
    • It is important for your program to understand that failure provides growth. 
  • “You can’t play it safe and be brave in the arena.”
  • “You have to sign up to get your ass kicked.”
  • Be willing to go out and fail and learn. 
  • Find the message behind why you fell short and grow from it. 
  • It is important for your athletes to create short term and long term goals. 
  • “A goal driven person is much easier to coach.”
  • Players need to identify their weaknesses. 
    • The players or coaches need to educate the athlete on the weaknesses of the athlete.
  • “Understand your weaknesses and don’t run away from them.”
  • “Don’t expect a pat on the back for extra work.”
  • Challenge the best players the most. 
  • Goal setting allows for the player to take ownership of their career. 
    • As a coach you want to be consistent and genuine.
    • Great coaches are everywhere. 
  • Coaching is all about growing young men and to make them better human beings for the four years that they were when they came into the program. 
    • Your assistants are critical because they need to help you implement the vision of the program. 
    • “Don’t recruit what you don’t need.” 
    • This will shorten your needs. 
  • “You want tough players.”
  • You can help change people for the better. 
  • You want confident players. Players who don’t have confidence won’t compete well. 
  • Confident players trust in their process. 
  • You want your players to be low maintenance and can be their own best coach. 
  • They do the right things all the time. 
    • “Take care of the little things.”
  • You want your players to want to be playing for your program. 
    • If that box isn’t checked by the players then it is most likely not going to work. 
  • Allow your athletes to be able to play multi-sport athletes if they like. 
  • The athleticism and instincts of the athlete improves when doing this too. 
    • There are many ways to be successful but the most important thing to be is yourself. 
  • As an Assistant Coach you are being a sponge and learning what to do and what not to do. 
    • “Control what you can control.”
  • The best thing you can do is have a clear understanding of where you are at, who you have, and how to have success in the program you are at. 
  • “Be on time, organized, and efficient at practice.”
  • “Do your job because you want to do your job. Don’t do your job to go somewhere else.”
    • Play to the style of the abilities of your team. 
  • “Build your style on how you can win with that team this year.”
  • Be adaptable and adjust your style accordingly. 
  • Reach out to coaches you respect and learn from them. 
  • When you leave a program you want the head coach to realize that you were the hardest working coach in the program that wanted the best for the program. 

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An open minded personality.. fun to be with, because of my positive vibes. God fearing, for without God I am nothing.. Moved with compassion when dealing with you, not selfish or self-centered...

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