The BlueCotton Blog

29 July 2015 ~ 0 Comments

How Can You Resolve A Conflict Within Your Sports Team?

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When you have a group of individuals training in a highly competitive field like sports for any length of time, conflict is inevitable. Eventually, someone’s going to get on someone else’s nerves. Personalities and ideas are going to clash, mistakes are going to be made, and words are going to be said in anger.

As coach, it’s your job to work out these disputes before they become serious. And today, we’re going to walk you through exactly how to do that. Let’s begin.

First, Let Everyone Cool Off

Before you even think about talking through the conflict, you need to make sure everyone’s cooled off. If emotions are still running high when you come across a conflict, nothing’s going to get done – and you could well make things worse. Separate the people involved and give all of them a chance to calm down.

“If your feathers are ruffled, it’s best to take a moment to regroup before having a knee-jerk reaction you might regret later,” writes Psych Central’s Joyce Marter. “Breathe deeply to calm yourself. Check in with your body and recognize if there are any physical discomforts that are exacerbating your emotional agitation (i.e. hunger, fatigue, etc.) If possible and appropriate, address those needs—otherwise, raise a mental red flag so you are conscious that your emotions may be inflamed by these conditions. Stretching is a good way to quickly release tension and achieve physical comfort and neutral posture.”

Act As A Neutral Party In Order To Gain Perspective

Once everyone’s had a chance to gather themselves, it’s time for you to really step in. Don’t take sides here. Instead, talk to each involved party and witness one at a time, to get their sides of the story.

The key here is to form the most complete narrative of events possible. Avoid assigning blame.  See, every person likes to paint themselves as the hero of their own story, and – as noted by The Boston Globe’s Joe Keohane – nobody likes admitting they’re wrong.

“Most of us like to believe that our opinions have been formed over time by careful, rational consideration of facts and ideas, and that the decisions based on those opinions, therefore, have the ring of soundness and intelligence,” writes Keohane. “Rather than facts driving beliefs, our beliefs can dictate the facts we chose to accept. They can cause us to twist facts so they fit better with our preconceived notions.”

Act As A Mediator

With a complete picture of the situation at hand, it’s time to bring the sparring parties back together, and work with them to find a solution. Remember, though – your job as a coach isn’t to tell them exactly what they need to do in order to solve their problem. Your job, as always, is to guide them towards the solution; to assist them in working things out for themselves.

Again, avoid assigning blame here. Try to help each party understand the others’ perspective, and demonstrate that you understand them yourself. If you were yourself involved in this conflict in some fashion, own up to your own mistakes.

“The mediator is primarily a “process person,” helping the parties define the agenda, identify and reframe the issues, communicate more effectively, find areas of common ground, negotiate fairly, and hopefully, reach an agreement,” reads a piece on Beyond Intractability. “A successful mediation effort has an outcome that is accepted and owned by the parties themselves.”

“Make sure that nobody is hiding from the issue at hand,” adds a post on the Dale Carnegie Blog. “Keep everyone talking and expressing themselves honestly and openly. Sometimes, these dialogues can focus on complaints rather than developing situations. Determine what everyone needs, and strive for a solution where all needs are met.”

When All Else Fails, Put Your Foot Down

Now for the bad news. As a coach, you’re in a position of authority over your players. And like everyone in positions of power, sometimes you have to be the bad guy. Sometimes, you have to step in and mandate a resolution – for example, if one of your athletes is being particularly stubborn and refuses to admit their own mistakes.

It’s generally rare that you’ll have to do this, but you should be prepared all the same.

Remember That Conflict Can Be A Good Thing

Last but certainly not least, there’s one last thing worth mentioning about conflict – it’s not always terrible. It could serve as a learning or growth opportunity for your team, and managing it effectively could enrich the players’ relationships with one another and improve the overall team dynamic.

“Hidden within virtually every conflict is the potential for a tremendous teaching/learning opportunity,” says Mike Myatt of Forbes. “Where there is disagreement there is an inherent potential for growth and development. Divergent positions addressed properly can stimulate innovation and learning in ways like minds can’t even imagine. Smart leaders look for the upside in all differing opinions.”

Closing Thoughts

A coach is many things to their team. A leader. A mentor. A friend. And perhaps most importantly, a mediator. Athletics can be a highly-aggressive, highly competitive field; conflict is just about inevitable.

How you address it when it strikes your team could make or break its dynamic – keep that in mind, moving forward.

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21 July 2015 ~ 0 Comments

Advice From 11 Experts On What Makes A Great Swag Bag (And What Doesn’t)

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The perfect gift bag, or “swag bag”, can show appreciation, boost employee loyalty, or create or improve brand awareness. But, creating the perfect swag bag can be harder than it seems. That’s why we’ve combed through various industries to ask those who know what a great swag bag looks like. Because we’ve all been to one of those conferences where they hand you a bag and when you look inside there are some pens and a notebook and maybe a usb stick with the conference logo on it. And what happens to those things? Odds are, they probably end up in the garbage. […]

09 July 2015 ~ 0 Comments

Five Football Training Drills You Can Use To Whip Your Team Into Shape

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A sports team is nothing without a great coach to guide them. You’re equal parts leader and mentor; equal parts drill sergeant and friend. It’s a difficult job, but also an immensely rewarding one if done right.

“Sports coaches assist athletes in developing to their full potential,” reads a piece on Top End Sports. “They are responsible for training athletes in a sport by analyzing their performances, instructing in relevant skills, and providing encouragement.”

Part of that training involves drills, physical exercise patterns designed to promote athletic growth.  Today, we’re going to go over a few of the more brutal – and brutally efficient – exercises you can use to hammer the members of your football team into better, more hardened athletes. Note that this is just a balanced sampling; there are tons more drills out there on the web just waiting to be discovered and adapted for your team.

Let’s get started. […]

01 July 2015 ~ 0 Comments

The Complete Guide To Managing Bids In Your Fraternity

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If you’re going to take on the responsibility of managing a frat, membership is among the most important factors to consider. New members are the lifeblood of your organization; they are the ones who will keep the frat alive once you’ve graduated and moved on. You need to make sure they’re the kind of people you want in charge when you’re gone, and that’s something that begins right in the recruitment phase.

Today, we’re going to take you through what’s involved in managing bids, bringing in new members, handling rush week, and hosting a bid ceremony. Let’s dive right in. […]

24 June 2015 ~ 0 Comments

How to Set Up a Charity: The 10,000 ft View

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Looking to change the world? Your own charity is a great place to start – if you know what you’re doing. Running a charitable organization isn’t as easy as some people make it look. There are legalities to consider, to say nothing of the logistics involved.

We’ll run you through everything you need to know. By the end of this piece, you’ll have all the knowledge you need to start working towards the greater good. Let’s dive right in. […]

17 June 2015 ~ 0 Comments

How Can We ACTUALLY Secure A Future For Education?

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By now, it’s no secret that the United States educational system is in dire straits. Schools across the country are understaffed and underfunded. From educational cuts in Louisiana that make post secondary even more unattainable to Governor Andrew Cuomo’s efforts in Albany to obtain a grant for education investment, the news is swimming with stories about how education is underfunded, understaffed, and underutilized.

The worst part is, lack of funding is actually the smallest of our concerns here – the solution for that, at least, is fairly simple, more money. Far more pressing is the fact that the majority of children seem disinterested in learning. Somewhere along the line, there’s a disconnect, and educators bogged down by archaic testing methods and ineffective teaching strategies pretty much have their hands tied.

And yet, no one seems to know how to solve the problem – everyone just keeps talking about it. […]