Writing a bio for athletic coaches

I get a lot of strange site traffic, but the most popular search query on my site is for people looking for advice on how to write a bio.

Well, I’m back on the topic again and this time, the subject is related to strategies for writing athletic coach bios. One thing you’ll notice is that no two coaches bios on college or university web sites are the same. Now part of that owes to the fact that there are simply coaches with more experience, who feel it necessary to cram as much information as necessary into their bios — feeling it will give them an edge with future recruits — and others whose biographies seem as if they went directly from the coach’s pen to the web site unedited.

This topic became more of an issue once I agreed to serve as an assistant coach for our tennis team this spring. As a web guy who just happens to play a sport, I’ve looked online a lot at athletic bios to develop an official style for our new site once it launches. I’ve noticed some common themes in most bios and it’s led me to come up with a few things I think are important to keep in mind when preparing biographies for coaches.

1. No spin zone The marketing copy needs to be on other pages of your site, but not in the coach’s biography. Sure, players are going to read to see if a coach is experienced, if he/she has sent players on to be future coaches (or at higher levels, to the pros) and what his or her experience level. But their bio simply isn’t the place to try to sell the success of your program. You have more visible pages for that, so use them.

2. Ready On Day One In my view, the most important job of the coach’s biography is to tell a player (or their parents) why this particular individual is qualified to serve in this role. You need to accentuate their experience first. Success matters, too. But it really depends on the person you’re selling. If you’ve got a coach that’s won lots of accolades, has coached winning teams to championships and sent a few players to the pros, then you’re probably awash with things to talk about and it’s unlikely you’re reading this.

But for those folks who have coaches who are relatively inexperienced or whose resumes are harder to elucidate, remember that certifications or accreditation, past experience, awards and successful playing experience are the areas that matter most here.

3. K.I.S.S. Rule Under four paragraphs. There really isn’t a reason to go longer than this and if there is, you’ll know it when you see it. For assistant coaches, no more than two sentences unless said individual is an experienced assistant or a situation (e.g. football) where you have a large cadre of coaches to account for.

There has to be a middle ground. I know some schools do an excellent job with these, but the ones I’ve seen done best aren’t at the Division 1 level domain of major college athletics. It’s actually at smaller colleges where athletics aren’t as prominently featured.

If you contain content to the more important facts about your athletic coaches, it’ll result in tighter bios that present information better, are designed more cleanly and allow people to get a quick impression of the talent your folks posses.

Does your institution have a style requirement for coaching bios?

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A reader survey

I check my stats on feedburner because it’s good to know how many folks are following me. Sometimes, I expect to login and see a wholesale drop in my numbers. Not actually. But sometimes, I brace myself for it. I always wonder what drives people here and especially given the bump in traffic over the past 3-4 months, I’m really intrigued by what’s motivating people to come back for more.

I’m working on a few projects that have actually hampered my creativity, but it’ll continue to improve as the year goes on and I’m able to tell you what I’m working on. (And it should start lots of conversations…) But I put together an anonymous survey. It should take you…well, no time at all. So please fill it out and let me know. Chances are, it’ll make the blog better.

Click Here to take survey

Thanks!

Steal the Blueprints

The only thing ringing in my head this morning worth sharing was part of the song lyrics to a track called Steal the Blueprints by Plus/Minus.

Maybe I’ve just been giving too many motivational talks (to friends) lately, but something says someone might benefit from this rather this part of the song:

Do you wonder just what happened to
all the desire to carry on
without knowing where you’re going?

Of course, there is a video too.

Happy Wednesday.

Be yourself, let the rest follow

The strangest thing happened when I noticed people started actually reading my blog. I started to change. The same thought introspective riffs that I’d not hesitated to write before became short and snappy posts and not as interesting. What really changed was I began to censor myself.

I think the difference between writing a blog that you figure only a few people read and writing one that a few more people read, is this idea of “disappointing” your readers. You have this newfound audience and so, you start to throw yourself into making everything you said great.

As most of you know, it’s just not that easy. Even if it were, why not just go ahead and do what you were gonna do anyway? I’ve found in my professional blogging life that the most interesting posts aren’t always the ones that I thought would get the most comments. In fact, I’ve found that I have more reach than I thought, when I write something that resonates with some far flung person somewhere and before I know it, a few other people are writing and telling me something or making a comment about their own experiences.

That was the point of this blog in the first place. For me to put myself out there, to begin to connect with like-minded and different minded folks who might be in a similar space and a similar place. Blogging isn’t rocket science and I love to let people know that I don’t believe it to be.

But the way to recapture the joy you get from actually communicating with others is to simply be yourself.

Looks don’t matter, just start writing

One of the things that’s helped me to become a lot more productive developing content online is realizing that the way a site looks isn’t always the greatest barrier to entry to driving traffic to your site.

Obviously, you want your site to look good. But if you’re not the best developer in the world, it stands to reason that spending countless hours trying to “perfect” your look before to you get any content or can ascertain whether anyone wants to bother reading what you’re putting out there is just a waste of time.

I’ve found that one of the best ways to determine whether the project you want to build has legs is to get it out there as soon as possible. This isn’t a new idea, it’s time tested and has been proven to work for far more grandiose projects than writing blogs or developing social networking applications.

I started this blog on a whim. It had a different name, a different look and focus when I started it. But rather than following my past model of wasting a lot of time perfecting the look, I just started writing. It was the smartest decision I could have made. In the end, the name of something, the way a logo looks or anything else doesn’t matter much. What really matters is, that you stay passionate about it and find ways to engage yourself into something even when you absolutely don’t feel like it.

That’s the real key to success of a project in the early going.

Kid tested, mother approved

How much does what other institutions do influence the decision making process where you work? I mean, we know how much it can affect other industries like retail or other marketing intensive businesses like athletic shoes or cars.

But what about higher ed? I know we’re plugged in — or at least, try to be — to our target audiences, but what about to the competitors and reacting to what they’re doing. It’s one thing to put your name on a college’s mailing list to see their marketing materials, but is simply picking the “best” ideas off of other places. After all, why work harder when you can work smarter or implement an idea better than another place does.

What happens though, when an entire institutional strategy is based off of doing nothing but following the competition?