Coach Joel Williams: Why Coaches NEED to Adapt over their Career
The program is really an extension of the institution, but it is a direct reflection of who is building it.
Coach Joel Williams, who has been coaching since 1992, is an extremely wise, caring, and passionate coach. Originally, he began coaching on the youth level when his son started playing football. Through this experience, he quickly began to realize his love for coaching. After his son stopped playing football, Coach Williams decided to make coaching his profession.
After coaching at the youth team that his son played for, he started an organization called the Southeast Youth Athletic Association. As Coach Williams has always had a passion for pouring into, inspiring, and developing the youth, this was a lot of fun for him. From there, he went on to coach high school football for a while before accepting his current role in college athletics. He has served in the capacity as Head Coach, Offensive Coordinator, and Athletic Director
Today’s All In Takeaways are centered around a couple of keys that allows Coach Williams to excel in his craft: adapting to the environment, using Twitter as an engine to recruiting, and caring for the mental health of his athletes.
All In Takeaway #1: Adapting to the Changing Landscape
As a coach, it is important to be open-minded to the changing landscape and the evolving needs of your athletes. Every 10 years, the coaches need to adjust, not the players. The coaches have to adjust to the mentality of the individuals that they are coaching. This does not mean that coaches will not use their same base value systems and beliefs. But their strategy and approach should change.
Players’ mentalities change as you move from generation to generation. The biggest change that Coach Williams has had to make throughout his career is not being such an old school coach and learning how to communicate. WITHOUT COMMUNICATION THERE IS NO COACH (or at least, not a good one). Coaches, please do your best to try and understand the needs of your athletes to the best of your abilities and meet them where they are at.
All In Takeaway #2: Use Twitter to your Advantage
If you are a coach in any sport, involved in recruiting, and not on social media, you are missing out in a major way. Before social media was so mainstream, recruiting used to work in the following manner. Coaches would hear about a player that meets what they are looking for, and they would go to their house, meet their parents, and figure out if they are a good fit for their program.
Now, almost all of the communication is done through Twitter. At first, Coach Williams tried to avoid creating a Twitter account because he wanted his communication with athletes to be more personal. However, after constant reminders from his younger coaches, he finally decided to make an account. In the matter of a couple of days, he had over 100 followers and players from all over the country sending him film and making introductions. Coaches, if you have not already, please create a twitter account and start connecting with athletes.
All In Takeaway #3: Break Down the Barriers of Mental Health
One of the reasons Coach Williams believes we suffer so much with mental health is that, due to technology, we have distanced ourselves from touch. One of his previous coaches, was “up in everyone’s business” more than anyone he has ever known. He was always asking questions such as,
How is your mom? How is school? Is everything okay?
However, although to some this may have seemed “nosy,” Coach Williams knew that this was out of love and care for his athletes. Due to technology, it has distanced us from doing this. However, mental health does not discriminate, and it is integral that coaches constantly shine a light on this more and more prominent issue.
Coach Williams tries to break down the barriers of mental health through not building a false narrative. He tries to always be as accessible, reasonable, and as intimate as possible. Constantly, he lets his athletes know where he stands so that when they mess up, they can come to him for help and advice. We are all human. We are all going to mess up. It is important that as a coach you remind your athletes that when this does happen, you can be there for them.
Currently, Coach Williams is the Head Coach for the Women’s Flag Football Team and Running Backs’ Coach for the Men’s at Atlantis University. As Coach Williams continues to use his unique ability to constantly adapt to the changing environment and meet athletes where they are at, it will be exciting to see where Coach Williams is able to help take both teams in the next season. Go Atlantis!
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