Jason Payne — High School Basketball Coach and Mental Performance Coach on Avoiding Burnout and Connecting with Today’s Student-Athletes

Ross Romano: [00:00:00] Welcome everybody to another episode of Sideline Sessions here on the BE Podcast Network.

Thanks as always for being with us. And we're here to have another great [00:01:00] conversation about coaching student athletes. Mental performance and all kinds of topics that are going to be supported to you in your role as a coach, as a parent of student athletes, or as a student athlete yourself.

So my guest today is Jason Payne. Jason has coached the varsity boys basketball team in Yorkton, Saskatchewan, Canada for the past 24 seasons. And he also works with teams and athletes as a mental performance coach. Jason, welcome to the show.

Jason Payne: Thanks for having me, Ross.

Ross Romano: so Let's start here where we start a lot of times, but how'd you get into coaching?

Jason Payne: I've been around sport essentially my entire life. My, my father was a hockey and track and field coach and really sports just been part of my life since as long as I can remember. And I think that for me as my time as an athlete ended in university, it's just seemed a natural thing to start getting involved in and staying in.

in the game and really coaching became that avenue for me. [00:02:00] I worked with a high school team in my last year of university and it all clicked right away. I totally understood what it was that continued to bring my dad back to track and field. As many seasons he ended up coaching for 50 years at his school.

So I could really understand what it was that, that drew him. I was pretty, pretty much hooked right away.

Ross Romano: So I, yeah, I don't, and I don't know if I'm saying Saskatchewan in the locally approved pronunciation, but you

Jason Payne: Not you got it.

Ross Romano: But how did you, what attracted you to basketball up there? And I assume that's hockey country.

Jason Payne: Saskatchewan's definitely hockey country. There's no doubt. The sport just appealed to me. My dad was actually a really high level hockey player and kind of flirted on the edges of the NHL in the 60s when making 16 league. So he was a really high level hockey player and he didn't love the way the game tended to spit people up.

So [00:03:00] he kind of steered me into ways. I played a little bit of hockey, but he steered me into sports that were more school based soccer. Rugby, basketball were the sports that I tended to participate in. And for me, the repetitive nature of basketball was wonderful. I loved the challenge of mastering the skills of shooting, dribbling, and things along those lines.

And so there was a real challenge element to the sport that I loved.

Ross Romano: So I referenced in the intro that you've been coaching the varsity team up there for nearly 25 years. But you know, I've seen you write that in 2018, which certainly would have been you know, well into nearly 20 years into your your role there that you nearly quit. What was happening at that time?

You know, what was happening with the team? How are things going? What were the questions you were asking yourself?

Jason Payne: I was really burnt out [00:04:00] after 15 years of Yorkton is a small community, so we're about 15 to 20, 000. And so coaching in a community like this is program building. So you're working with athletes from the time they're six to the time they're 18. So I was burnt out. The total, the demands that they required were growing.

It wasn't as much a situation of just teaching kids sport and helping them learn through sport as a vehicle. They really, I could see the struggles they were going through in our society, and that's certainly amplified in the last six years since that point. The solutions that my athletes needed at that point weren't tactical or technical, it was mental, it was team culture.

And I recognized that what I was doing wasn't working, and the toll was being paid by me. So I had to take a look at things and determine, was I going to be able to continue in [00:05:00] this, or was I going to be able to change it into something that served a higher purpose than just winning and losing basketball games. (ad here)

Ross Romano: What did you end up learning about burnout avoiding burnout, you know, for coaches who maybe are butting up against that, but how did you end up navigating through that?

Jason Payne: It's a huge challenge. Remember the, that season ended in, in 2018 and basically I spent the next two weeks like completely shut off from society. I didn't really, my wife and my daughters were away on a trip in New Zealand and my son was at university and I just basically went to work and came home and didn't interact with anybody.

I was just completely fried. For me, avoiding burnout has been really helpful. The key is leaning into the things that provide me with positive energy, and that's writing, it's making sure that I'm using sport as a vehicle to drive human performance, to drive growth, to [00:06:00] drive development in terms of who the athlete is as a person, and making sure I avoid burnout by making sure I'm connected to those things at all times.

Sure, we like to win games more than we like to lose, like every single coach on the planet and athlete, but there's a higher purpose to what we're doing, and I find connecting to that higher purpose, making sure it's really intentional, has had a really positive impact on the ability to continue doing something that occasionally is quite challenging.

Ross Romano: What about, like, how would you relate that advice to a new coach? Somebody who's just getting into it maybe is, you know, they're not certainly yet there. at the point of experiencing burnout, but I think some of the same lessons would apply, certainly as far as avoiding or preventing that, but as far as maybe defining revisiting, staying tethered to their purpose, their, you know, the bigger picture of what the job is about with student [00:07:00] athletes in particular, and the range of goals and outcomes that we have for them, beyond, you know, Every coach, every athlete at every level even at non competitive levels, right?

Like, prefers to win and depending on where you are, there's, you know, expectations and pressure that may come along with that. But, that can lead to that burnout. But, so, If a newer coach or somebody who's just thinking about getting into coaching, how can they apply the lessons that you learned nearly 20 years into your career to start themselves off on the right foot?

Jason Payne: Yeah, I think there's a real evolution that we all go through as coaches. I think step one is you really sort of follow what your coaches were, and then you start to develop your own identity, It's the tactical and the technical, and I think my advice to new coaches would be to really focus on the [00:08:00] human aspects of coaching first.

The tactical and technical is certainly important on a basketball sense. You can't win games without some sort of structured offense and some sort of structured defense and applying for transition offense and defense. But I think those things are secondary. I think that, Making sure that you have a plan to intentionally create culture in your team.

You have a plan to you are Connecting with your athletes on a human level, on a daily level, is going to provide more long term reward in coaching than winning and losing games. Again that's certainly the whole goal. I think that making sure that you're able to connect to the higher purpose as soon as you can, and understanding how you're impacting and shaping lives.

Ross Romano: Thinking in particular [00:09:00] about the sport of basketball, given the amount of time you've been coaching it, are there ways in which the, I guess the high school game in particular and certainly in, in the region where you're coaching, are there ways in which the game has changed, like, since you started coaching either, you know, either related to maybe players interest or exposure in ways, you know, that they're navigating through the sport?

at the youth level toward maybe after high school or things that are changed in the ways of strategies, the way the games are being played, things that you've had to consistently, right? I'm sure keep up with and adapt to even if you have a, you know, a good sense of, in general, the things you're wanting to do.

Jason Payne: Oh, I think the game has changed profoundly in the last two decades. [00:10:00] It is much quicker. In Canada, our high school, we play a FIBA game, so 24 second shot clock, 8 second half court, and I would say when I started, you know, it wasn't uncommon to see somebody walk the ball up. Run a set that had multiple looks.

I mean, I know when I started, we were using the John Wooden UCLA offense, which was awesome and create a layup after 35 seconds every single time you ran it because it was detailed and structured the game doesn't. Resemble that anymore. We still run maybe the first action from that offense, which is post entry in a UCLA screen.

But it's just evolved so much more. It's so much faster. It's so much more free flowing. The skill level of our athletes across, I [00:11:00] mean, we've coached in against teams in Europe, I coached in the States. The level of skill is just higher than it's ever been, but it's really interesting because I think if I were to take my team this year that was super skilled and have them play against the team.

from 23 years ago, I'm not sure who would win, because I think our kids are super skilled, they understand how to execute skills and tactics at a level they didn't 23 years ago, I mean, just the shooting alone, but I think that there was a knowledge of how to play in a competitive environment amongst those teams that doesn't necessarily exist today.

They knew how to play together at a level that kids today don't understand. I think we're at a stage, and it doesn't seem to matter what sport, the skill level's higher, the social IQ, the ability to work together in a collective [00:12:00] situation to advance things for your team is probably worse than it's ever been.

And so it's a really interesting dichotomy to see advance over the last two decades. And to further unpack the question, I think that the business of youth sport has become a huge challenge. challenge. And I think that, you know, there's so many people developing youth on an individual basis, regardless of what the sport is, you can find somebody to, you know, in our own community.

And again, we're a small community in the middle of Canada. I can find somebody who will skill train you in football. I can find somebody who will skill train you individually in hockey. There's somebody who will do strength and conditioning work. Like the focus is all on the individual instead of.

the team, which is how we play the sports. So it's a really interesting change that I've definitely seen over the last couple of decades.

Ross Romano: Yeah. I mean, that is an interesting perspective. And how does that relate to so you do mental performance [00:13:00] coaching with. athletes that are in different sports. But that is an interesting aspect of the mental performance piece is how are we addressing both individual and team objectives and reconciling that right and understanding as You know, as the coach of a team, that there are certain things that each individual player wants to work on in the micro, but also whatever their long term goals are.

But then we also have to organize around team goals but how, I guess, how do those pieces relate and, Particularly as these things have evolved, and there is so much emphasis on individual training and individual goals and pressure from younger ages to consider specializing or where are you going with the sport and all [00:14:00] those things.

Right. That are, can be in conflict with the team concept if. If there's not a good balance,

Jason Payne: And I think that's, to me, that's the big part of the coach's art. And I think that in my role as a mental performance coach, regardless of the sport, my intent in that situation would be to connect the athlete with the larger picture of what they're doing. So sometimes that means making sure that roles are super clearly defined.

An athlete understands what their role is, how they improve, and work towards the role that they want to have, while still ensuring that athlete feels valued in what they're doing. And their role within the team, I believe that culture is something that coaches need to be really intentional about building in their teams, because I think, [00:15:00] I do believe young people and athletes want to connect to something bigger than themselves, that there is that lack of, part of that's what brings them to sport is the desire to be part of something bigger than themselves.

And as a coach, you need to make sure that's the environment that you're creating. And I think that's why today's athlete really responds to a more transformational approach where a coach or an athlete knows that the coach is invested in who they are as a person first, who they are as an athlete second, and whether they win or lose third. And I think that's ultimately, if you want to make sure your athletes are all engaged, I think that's vital. In my role as a mental performance coach, I can come in and I do consult with coaches on that. on individual basis on how they can help improve these things. I've run sessions for teams [00:16:00] across our city, community, and province on how to help them develop that culture, make sure that their athletes are connected to these skills, and developing them within the team setting.

Ross Romano: are there, what is the, I guess this is sort of relates to connecting with student athletes, but what have you found about, I guess, the interest and disposition regarding being part of a team? Has that changed? Has there the same typical level of. of buy in to the team mindset as there was 20 years ago.

Is there a different, do you have to sell it differently?

Jason Payne: Good question. I believe that, in general, the kids still want the same thing. They still want that sense of [00:17:00] connection. They want to be part of something bigger. Twenty years ago, You didn't have to sell it as much. I think that it was, you had a little more leeway with the athlete to start with. And today I think that you have to sell it upfront.

I don't know that I would say the buy in is hugely different once that is connected for the athlete. I think that for our program, we don't have a whole lot of kids who miss practice. You know, it's not like I'm chasing a kid because they've missed three out of four practices. Generally. I mean, that's not a universal truth.

But, and I think they respond well to clear expectations. And clear communication, and that's a two way thing. If a kid needs to miss a practice, my expectation is that they're going to let me know ahead of time. [00:18:00] So our buy in, I think, is good and remains at a high level. Part of that stems from strong relationships.

Part of that stems from them understanding what our culture is about. and having input into that culture. And if there's something they're not keen about, then I want to hear about it and be able to change it so that it becomes something that they remain bought in on. And it is different. I think kids today are different than they were two decades ago, but not that much.

I think that in many cases it's the adults that are different. Kids are over scheduled. They're doing too many activities. They have jobs and play too sports well. You can't commit to any of those

Ross Romano: Right. Yeah I don't have any, I don't have a great feel for this necessarily, but it almost feels like sometimes there is. The trend lines or the necessities for where [00:19:00] some coaches need to focus and where they may need to get some of their athletes to focus are almost moving in, in opposite directions, right? You know, we've talked about as a coach, being able to look at a broader picture and focus on objectives and the purpose beyond wins and losses, which is not To say that's not also an objective, but that there's more to it than that.

And that's not, you know, the complete summation of whether or not you've done a good job and it's not that, you know, the ends always justify the means kind of thing. Right. But that. With the young athletes and as they're advancing into these, you know, competitive ages are they almost less predisposed to be having an emphasis on [00:20:00] the wins and losses of the team as contrasted with their individual performance or what they perceive to be their individual opportunity in a way that maybe needs to be reconfigured sometimes.

Again, not to say that the only, you know, if we lose, it was a total waste and that's the only reason why we're here. But that sometimes maybe it does feel like You know, going back a few decades that was for the vast majority of athletes, that was their number one goal to win as a team. And now there may be, you know, a fair number of the athletes who that's very much secondary.

And not secondary to fitness and having fun and collaboration, but secondary to what did I do or what did I get to do? And

Jason Payne: sort of what I hear you saying [00:21:00] is being able to refocus a generation that's sort of insular and focused on me to look to how do we function as a we.

Ross Romano: right. And because it in so many areas of their lives, right, there's so much pressure on everything from a young age to be a high achiever and perform at this optimum level. And what you're rewarded for is. Individual performance. Right. And there's not rewards in most of those areas, whether it's your grades in school or you know, your participation in extracurriculars or competition for competitive placements or whatever it is.

You're not rewarded for teamwork, you're rewarded for welled. You're actually. You might feel as though you're punished for that because you're always in opposition to everybody around you for what seemed to be a limited number of opportunities [00:22:00] whereby in a team sport, the, you know, your, the reward truly, at least the ultimate reward for the team comes from the team functioning as a unit and understanding how they fit together and support one another, not, you know, Did each individual, you know, do whatever they felt was best for them,

Jason Payne: No, absolutely. You're totally on to, I think one of the huge challenges for modern coaches working with young people today. But I think that there's a really important component that I think people miss sometimes. And I think it's the. Kids crave connection. They may not totally understand it. They may not have been raised to understand that functioning in something that's bigger than themselves is really rewarding.

You're right. They are taught that it's about my performance, my achievement, what I can get out of [00:23:00] anything. I believe once they start to experience being part of something like a high functioning team, it unlocks something for them. And in that, they're able to understand. The rewards that they're getting outside of individual athletes, performance, opportunities, that sometimes there is real satisfaction in being the person that locks down the opposing defender, but only score, or the opposing top player, but only scored two points.

Understanding and making sure that as a leader and a coach, that the environment is created that allows that kid to get celebrated just as much as the kid who scored 30. And once that happens, kids are going to buy in at a level that you want them to buy in. The rewards to doing [00:24:00] that are high. That they are going to have lifelong friendships.

They are going to have lifelong memories. They are going to take lots away from their time in sports. It's going to improve their quality of their lives and help them understand how to function in our society and hopefully continue to make it a better place.

Ross Romano: right? What does it look like, you know, for coaches today to connect with the student athletes to, you know, to develop productive relationships?

Jason Payne: I think it stems from a place where they know you have their best interests at heart, and you're interested in who they are as a person, and what they like to do, what they spend their free time doing, what are their goals, what are their aspirations, what do they care for away from sport. It requires an investment in, in, for both.

And when they know those things about me, [00:25:00] They're more likely to share those things with them. We try and make sure my assistant and I make sure we're circulating through the team every day and checking in on how school's going, how life's going, how did grandma's surgery go, all the things that help them realize that we're invested in them as humans and that the sport is just what we do together.

Ross Romano: What is the I guess, the status quo and the cultural, you know, which way is the pressure going and the expectations of where you are around specialization versus generalization, right? Kids participating in multiple different sports versus being pressured into picking one. Certainly in a, you know, a lot of spots Down in the U.

S. here, right, there's younger and younger that pressure to specialize, which there's limited, if any evidence that's a [00:26:00] good thing and probably more evidence that it's a negative, but with the competition for, you know, scholarships and NIL dollars and, you know, there's, it's under, I understand the genesis of it, and yet with so many things, it's maybe not a great solution, but yeah what, what's happening?

What have you observed up there in Canada and you're part of the country when it comes to that debate?

Jason Payne: lot of emphasis on specialization. If being hockey country here, you can play on a travel hockey team at six. That hockey, that specialized hockey team will start after the regular hockey season is over, now, and will go until the end of June. And then during the summer, there's camps, there's more. More opportunities for them to get on the ice, and that goes all the way through.

I would say, in general, I'll never [00:27:00] see any of those kids. They won't participate in our spring programming, they won't participate in our fall programming, both of which are developmental. Twice a week, let's play, let's touch, let's have fun with the ball, figure out how to figure out how to play. And, I don't see those kids.

They're in hockey, they'll be in hockey until they're done high school. At which point, maybe they'll continue, maybe they won't. The numbers of our community would say that most of them will be done. Hockey is a massive economic commitment here, and so it's really stratifying who can play at those levels and who can't.

You know, just on a hockey level, Saskatchewan used to be known for the farm boy who's tough. Gordie Howe would be my example of a stereotypical Saskatchewan hockey player. There's a statue of him in Saskatoon, so you can understand how that. [00:28:00] model is really looked up to in our province, but that's not who's playing at these levels anymore. They aren't farm kids, they're kids whose parents have the means to allow them to continue to participate. And that's trickling down a little bit into other sports. The more things are specialized, the more they require specialization to, to compete. And so, you know, basketball now, there's more club basketball.

It's not the AUA system that you guys have in the States, but it's certainly more time than it was 20 years ago. There's more opportunity for kids that love to play and so on. It's a hard, I would like to see kids participate in more sport, but I also understand, I think back to the early 90s when I was participating in sport and I would love to have had more opportunities to play more games, practice more basketball.

It just didn't exist. So, I mean, I think it's a tough line. I don't look at the hockey model and go, wow, I wish that existed [00:29:00] everywhere. Cause. I don't think it's work, it's, we, Saskatchewan just as a province has fewer kids in the NHL than we ever have. And so that model to me is not working at all, but yet it continues because economically it makes sense for those that it makes sense for, make money off of it.

Ross Romano: Right, right. Or there's a misplaced emphasis on where the cause and effect is potentially you know, potentially the overemphasis on too much of ones for specialization in the year round. You know, and the effects that it may have on sustained interest or health, you know, and injury and all those kind of things could contribute to that a lot of those young athletes kind of burn out or wash out of the sport at a certain point.

But some people may draw the opposite conclusion [00:30:00] and say, Oh, there's. There's fewer of these kids at a high level than ever before. That means we need to specialize more because they're, you know, it's more competitive. And I guess you can go around and around in those cycles and not necessarily know for sure.

But it, you know, in any case. Whenever the decision making about, I guess, what we are emphasizing with our 6, 7, 8, you know, 9, 10 year olds is all based on what are they going to do when they're adults we're probably likely to make a few wrong decisions.

Jason Payne: Yeah, I mean, as a parent of three kids in their mid twenties, I can give you the list of ones that we made, but I mean, I think that it's about focusing on those kids who are six, seven, eight, nine, and saying what we want them to take from sport. I think that's the part that has gotten [00:31:00] lost. I think to me, Understanding how to be a good teammate, understanding how to be a supportive person, understanding how to win, how to lose, how to commit everything you have to being the best that you can be are all huge things that we can take away from sport.

I think that one of the things I've really tried to focus on with the mental performance work is helping coaches realize that they can take, they can instill mental skills in their athletes that are going to help serve them and serve their mental health away from sport. for the rest of their lives.

And I think that's an area that is super important that has really not received a whole lot of, I don't think anybody trains coaches in how to do that. And I think it's a vitally important part that has been missed.

yeah, I mean, the explicit teaching of how we're developing those skills via sport, right? Where you know, so many adults, [00:32:00] particularly those in leadership positions or whatever that, that had played sports growing up at any level, you know, youth, high school, college will always. articulate lessons they learned through that experience, but not, you know, just that it happened naturally, that it wasn't necessarily explicitly taught and Yes. I And yet there are so many things that, that's part of the experience.

Ross Romano: Thinking about, you know, staying in that realm and certainly in the realm of, you know, Cross sport, right? Just athletics in general. What are the pillars of high performance as you kind of define them and focus on them?

Jason Payne: think, to me, I see three real important pillars for athletes. It's basically understanding how their thoughts impact who they are and [00:33:00] the narrative of what their life looks like. I ultimately the quality of the messages we give ourselves impact our self image, impact how we interpret everything that happens.

I think that, to me, as an athlete, was. A strong understanding of how their self talk impacts their life is an important pillar. I think that focus is another important mental skill that makes up the pillar of an elite mindset. There's no doubt. that our young people are more distracted and have worse focus than any point in human history.

Hopefully that extends to us as adults as well. So helping them understand the role that their foam is playing is an important one. How to laser fine [00:34:00] tune and have locked in laser focus is a skill that is going to serve them really well in terms of building a elite mindset while also giving them a life skill that is really important.

And then I think that the last one would be the ability to set track.

So those are three areas that we focus on explicitly in the classroom every year. And so my seniors have done it, some of them have done it for three years now, and they get good at it, they understand, they catch themselves, and they partner up with a younger player on the team and help them sort of start to understand and recognize those areas when they're creeping into what they're doing.

But for us that's the foundation of, you know, elite mindsets that we want to create within our athletes. And I think for coaching, I think there's there's a three pillar approach there too, that we build a competitive [00:35:00] advantage by having athletes who function at that high level. The second would be getting ourselves as coaches to function at that level, which requires some of the same mental stuff.

And then the last thing is creating a culture that functions at a high level.

Ross Romano: So if a coach wants to kind of start on some of these high performance factors what's the number one thing to do? The most important place to start.

Jason Payne: I think that.

It depends a little bit, I think, what is the culture of your program? If the culture is decent, then I would probably focus on some of the mental aspects for the outside. If the culture is, if you're brand new to a program and there's no culture in place, I would focus on that because I don't think you're not going to get the athletes in who want to be involved and who are going to be committed until [00:36:00] that culture is established.

So I think that to me. That's the first sort of question I would ask.

Ross Romano: What. is the hardest part of being a coach.

Jason Payne: Good question.

Challenge exists, balance, both in life. You aren't going to be a high performer as a coach unless you have balance in your life. I think sometimes coaching, especially the higher you climb, whether you get to a university, professional level, there is no balance. And to be a successful coach, you have to balance your own life versus the lives of your athletes and understanding the pressures and things that are going on for them, while ensuring that you're taking care of the things that are causing those pressures in your own life.

And that's challenging. [00:37:00] I think that, on top of that, today's athletes, have different needs as we discussed, and they need to be addressed. They need to be part of what your program looks at. So I think that there's real challenges as a coach. I think there are also great rewards.

Ross Romano: Yeah, I, you know, something I'm thinking about is how, you know, and the discussion we had earlier about the different ways in, you know, we're communicating to young athletes about the goals and individual versus team objectives and so on is what it requires of a coach. coaches regarding their attitude toward, you know, servant leadership, I would say, their humility regarding their position and what their role is with respect to the student [00:38:00] athletes, and that, I feel like there were so many times in the past where, you know, when, I'll put in air quotes, team was emphasized above all else, where what that really meant was like team was synonymous with coach, right?

And when the coach said, Do this for the team. What it really meant is this is what I want to do this for me. And it was maybe a convenient framing to be able to, you know, to say it was about the greater whole, but it wasn't necessarily an account for me. The team is a composition of all the individuals that make up their team.

So their individual perspectives. Needs, goals, strengths, weaknesses, objectives, all, you know, they all blend together to make up what are we working toward as a unit and in order to lift up [00:39:00] the athletes and their voice and their autonomy and in the creation of that, right, that may require the coaches to humble themselves and to take themselves off of that, you know, you know, that, that pedestal where they are the in charge of it all and, and to make it more of just a collaborative approach and, you know, that may be just the blend that is one becoming, you know, more of the expectation of the, this generation of athlete, but also toward creating a more effective, understanding of buy in to team objectives as valuable, right?

And seeing it not as independent from or in conflict with individual goals, individual approaches but understanding how It is, in fact, the [00:40:00] amalgamation of the individual goal.

Jason Payne: It's been really interesting to see the NCAA coaching landscape over the last couple of seasons as NIL, Transfer Portal have all been Become really powerful forces on the landscape there. It's been really interesting to see how that's driven some coaches right out of the game. You hear some of the old school guys who are, I don't want to do this anymore, I can't coach under these circumstances.

And really, I think, in the NCAA level, it's just been a power flip. No longer do the coaches wield all the power, now the athletes wield all the power. It's really created an interesting environment, and for some people who look at what it used to be, it's too different and they can't handle that. While others, you can see, are profiting from it because they have to recruit their kids every year. It's not a [00:41:00] simple thing of saying, you know what, we've got you here now, and you either perform or we don't renew your scholarship, which is how it used to be. Now it's I don't like the culture and the environment you've created, coach. I'm leaving and finding one that does suit me. So I think it's been a really interesting flip that way.

And it definitely has changed the landscape of college sports for sure. I don't know if it's for the better or for the worse, it's really interesting to watch. And it certainly has taken a toll on those leaders who have a real transactional approach where. Like you said, they're there, you as the athlete are there to serve the coach, and put an emphasis on programs where the coach is there to serve the athlete.

I think that,

With athletes, at a younger level, even at the high school level, you still have to recruit them every, you still have to recruit them every day. I think that, As a coach, [00:42:00] I don't see myself, it's not my program, it's not my team, when I leave, I don't take it with me, every year is a new team, and I'm one of the members of that team, so to me, we're all in it together, nobody, I'll be there next year, and some of the kids will be too, but it's not a situation where it's something that I own to their heart.

It's ours. It's something collectively that we do together, we build together, and we work towards the same goals collectively. And I think that, I think that works in a way to help sort of combat some of the me versus we stuff that we've been talking about. Mm ( ad here )

Ross Romano: Yeah, and it does, I mean, to the point of recruiting them daily, I feel like that's a version of that has come up a few times here recently. But, you know, with your team, whether you have six players, right? [00:43:00] And you have one who's not starting, or you have 15. No matter what the number is, somebody is going to be at the end of the bench, so to speak.

Somebody is going to be the one who is having the fewest opportunities to contribute on the court during the game. Do the, you know, does that athlete still feel like a contributor, a member of the team of value, you know, and if not, how are we strengthening that and sustaining that? Because eventually, I mean, okay, this one walked away, that one walked away.

Eventually. Somebody, no matter how many walk away, somebody is always going to be in that spot and yet it gets to a point where it's unsustainable and yeah, I mean, I'm very interested to see it in the university, the college athletics, what happens in five years from now,

Because I think for all of the positives [00:44:00] in the, you know, The power imbalance that have been you know, course corrected in some ways, there still are a lot of unanswered questions about what is, how beneficial is this to the long term development?

Jason Payne: How, you know, how is the ability to access immediate rewards in some ways potentially? At conflict with, right? So in, you know,

Well, and in some ways that power imbalances. And it'll be interesting to see, can they get it back to a level playing field for both groups? It's, you're right. It's going to be

Ross Romano: and in a lot of ways in a good way, right? And, you know, one of the easy examples of why it was so it was not the way it should have been before where the transfer rules and how they contrasted [00:45:00] with the coaches, you know, mobility, right? And a coach could recruit you into their program, and then they could choose to leave for a new job.

And if you wanted to move to a new school because you were no longer playing for the coach that recruited you, and you would have to sit out a whole year, That wasn't really fair, right? And certainly the economics with coaches that are very well paid and student athletes who couldn't capitalize on their value.

But in other ways. You know, football is an easy example because now within the NIL, you know, the starting quarterbacks, right, can certainly monetize that role pretty well if they're at a high profile program or they're high, and that contrasts with where it was before, which it wasn't really about where you started, it was about where you ended up.

If you were [00:46:00] the backup or sat on the bench for two years, even three years. And then that one year, when you had a chance to start, you performed well and you got drafted to play professionally, right? It didn't necessarily make a difference whether you were the starter for one year or for three. And potentially if you were in a better program with better athletes and better coaches, you may have developed a lot more and become much better by the end.

Yeah. versus now, if you feel like you deserve to have that position, you're going to transfer, you're going to go somewhere else and you will be able to capitalize on that in a variety of ways. But who knows if it ends up that you know, you're in as good of a position in the long term. And, you know, that's for individuals, that's choice for them to make for themselves, but it'll be interesting in, you know, the next half a decade to a decade once there's more of a sample size of seeing how is this really playing out over time.

Once some of these coaches that [00:47:00] have been at it for a long time and couldn't adapt are replaced, do some of these things change with coaches that have a different approach? And you know, in the long run, of course, it is advantageous for everybody to have, you know, to have more power in their position and be able to make decisions that are beneficial to them, but it's certainly, you know, It answers some questions and it asks a lot of others.

Jason Payne: And it'll be interesting to see how they reconcile. I can't imagine the inequity amongst teams. You have one player, and Kate McClark is on national news commercials and ad campaigns and, you know, I can't imagine the 10th player on Iowa is making a hundredth of what she's making. And so, you know, I think that dynamic must be really interesting in locker rooms.

Probably provides coaches with a real [00:48:00] challenging set of dynamics that they need. At that level, they really have to sell. We. Over me, but how do you do that when one person is earning a hundred times more than another? I just it would be very challenging

Ross Romano: Yeah, well as I mentioned to I mean by the time this records it'll be a little bit er, by the time this publishes it'll be a little bit in the past, but At the time we're recording, we, you know, recently had the Elite Eight games. And as I said to some friends, Hey, this Caitlin Clark's pretty good.

How come I've never heard about it? Just kind of joking about the amount of coverage that she has rightfully earned. But certainly, right. There's a major contrast where there's one member of a team that is so heavily covered in the others that are in, you know, relative anonymity and how that, uh, you know, and particularly with women's athletics where there are [00:49:00] significant dollars I think that are available right now to the star performers.

But as you said it's. Not, it's not going to be super equitable across the board there. And yeah, more challenges to figure out, but you know, as we're wrapping up here, Jason you also have your newsletter competitive advantage, and that is all about helping coaches improve performance of teams, coaches, athletes, a lot of what we talked about here today.

But yeah, what are, what's an example? What are some of the things that people might read about there and where can they find it?

Jason Payne: they can find it at the competitive edge or sorry the competitive advantage dot CA basically a weekly Sometimes bi weekly depending on life newsletter that explores How coaches can tie into those three aspects of the competitive advantage that we talked about, how to create athletes with an elite mindset, how to create environments, [00:50:00] cultures that are high functioning, and how can they, as coaches, become high functioning themselves.

So each week we try and do, provide practical tools for coaches. I'd like to send out lots of handouts on things. This week's issue is going to be about motivation, how coaches, and really this ties into what we've been talking about today, how coaches can. I'll build those bonds and help create a we by understanding what motivates each of their players to play.

In a basketball team, that's not that hard. There's 12 kids. It involves some questioning and understanding. And in a football environment, that's a little more challenging with as many as 60 to 100 kids. So, but all of it becomes important when that's the intentional work that has to be done to create that culture.

So, that's kind of what the newsletter is. A nice little community that [00:51:00] I hear from when they like things and things they want to, most of it is coach driven. So I look for suggestions, lots of motivation we're doing came from a suggestion from a reader. So I hope I'm touching on things that are both applicable.

And interesting to coaches, but also are really helpful.

Ross Romano: Excellent. So listeners, yeah, if you're interested in that, check it out. We'll put the link below it's the competitiveadvantage. ca. So you can go there, subscribe, send in your ideas, think about things you want to hear more about. We'll also link to Jason's social media. profiles if you want to follow him on Twitter and LinkedIn.

And so, yep, check all that out. Those resources are valuable to you and connect there. Please also, if you have not already, subscribe to Sideline Sessions to hear the rest of this spring season. We're going to continue to bring conversations with coaches from all across the sporting landscape. We have everything From [00:52:00] basketball to golf to general manner performance to baseball and more.

And so, tune in for all of that and visit the podcast. network to learn about more of our shows, particularly if you're in education, leadership, there's a lot there for you. Jason, thanks so much for being on the show.

Jason Payne: No problem. It's my pleasure.

Creators and Guests

Ross Romano
Ross Romano
CEO, September Strategies. Co-founder, @BePodcastNet. #EquityAwards Program Chair. Advisor, comms & storytelling strategist for #k12, #nonprofit, #edtech orgs.
Jason Payne
Jason Payne
Helping coaches unlock peak performance & avoid burnout. Build better people. Win more games. Founder & CEO @EvolutionMPC
Jason Payne — High School Basketball Coach and Mental Performance Coach on Avoiding Burnout and Connecting with Today’s Student-Athletes