UTEP Coach Sean Kugler on How to Deal With Coaching Changes | STACK
X

Become a Better Athlete. Sign Up for our FREE Newsletter.

How to Deal With Coaching Changes: Advice From UTEP Coach Sean Kugler, Part 1

January 28, 2013

A senior star wonders if his final season will live up to its potential. An incoming freshman worries that she might lose her scholarship. Like most athletes, they find it difficult to deal with a coaching change. To learn how athletes can ease the transition to a new coach, we reached out to Sean Kugler, new head football coach of the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP) to ask the hard questions many athletes have, but are afraid to ask.

Kugler began his career as a standout guard for the Miners; and after a brief stint as a player in the NFL, he spent 12 years as an NFL and college assistant coach. As a first-time head coach, Kugler shared some tips for dealing with a coaching change, which he has gleaned from personal experience. This three-part series will cover everything from scholarships and recruiting to player-coach relationships to making sure you get maximum playing time.

In Part 1, we cover the basics. According to Kugler, here's what you should know before meeting your new coach for the first time.

Your Coach Knows About You

You Googled your coach when you heard about his hiring. Just know that the coach has researched you as well. When he took over at UTEP, Kugler's first priority was to learn about his players. He says, "I checked all the grades and visited with retained coaches. If players checked out from an academic and character standpoint, I called them and told them their scholarship was being honored."

Worried your grades weren't high enough last semester? Then make up for it this spring before the first practice. According to Kugler, struggling athletes can redeem themselves "if they show a focused daily effort to improve. Otherwise they'll make a poor impression on ability to improve to the new coach." (If you're struggling, check out this article on how to get better grades.)

Learn How to Make a Good First Impression

For most coaches, discipline is everything. The ideal athlete is always "on time, attentive and focused," Kugler says. "Confidence and trust is built over time by doing the right things on and off the field."

If they show up late even once, athletes are red-flagged immediately. Coaches grow weary of athletes who are unresponsive, inattentive or disinterested during meetings with authority figures. But the fastest way to permanently lose your coach's trust is to lie or steal. "That completely eliminates any trust in my mind," Kugler says.

Make a good impression with your coach by learning wardrobe essentials and body-language cues.

Get on the Same Page

The upcoming season has a lot riding on it for both the new coaching staff and the players. To keep everyone going in the same direction, Kugler mandates that his "players communicate with him and his staff and are accountable for their actions both on and off the field." Kugler also sets these expectations for himself, his staff and the administration.

If  you're confused about program changes and your role on the team, talk to the coach immediately. For a team and individual athlete to be successful, there can never be any gray areas. "Everything needs to be made black and white," Kugler says. "Players should understand what the daily expectancies are of them." (Check out The Power of Accountability: Setting and Reaching Goals.)

Seek Out Your Position Coach

Because the majority of your dealings will be directly with your position coach, developing a strong relationship with him is crucial. The best way to start off on the right foot is to let your position coach know that you're serious about playing time. Express both individual and team goals for the upcoming season. From there, Kugler says, the most important thing is to "work hard to show your coach you're daily trying to improve."

This advice applies both on and off the field. If better grades are your goal, bring to practice any outstanding scores from the week. If your goal was to beat last year's rushing total, stay after practice for extra sprints.

Want to get more playing time next season? Watch for Part 2 of this series for advice on how to impress your coach on the field.

Samantha Jones
- Samantha Jones is a graduate of the University of Alabama, where she earned her bachelor's degree in communication and information sciences. Throughout her scholastic career,...
Samantha Jones
- Samantha Jones is a graduate of the University of Alabama, where she earned her bachelor's degree in communication and information sciences. Throughout her scholastic career,...
More Cool Stuff You'll Like

The Holistic Approach to Impactful Sports Coaching

The interaction between a coach and an athlete is a very dynamic relationship. When you are involved as a coach in an athlete's life the complexity of...

4 Reasons Your Team Is Losing

5 Tips to Becoming a Successful Athlete

4 Ways to Turn Mental Toughness Into Physical Toughness

How Clayton Kershaw Gets in the Zone

Mental Warm-Up: How to Build Confidence Before a Game

Tips to Be a Better Leader

Use Sports Psychology Against Your Opponents

Get Tough on Your Goals to Get Fit

How to 'Keep Your Cool' on the Football Field

Study: Athletes Think Faster, More Accurately Than Non-Athletes

Overcome Your Fear of Failure

Why You Should Be Training Instead of Exercising

How Mental Performance Affects Your Workouts

Build Mental Toughness in the Weight Room

Summer Mental Training Plan for Wrestling

Home Field Advantage Is Real, Says Science

How Nik Wallenda Prepared to Walk Across the Grand Canyon

Positive Affirmations for Athletes

Are You Playing With a Winning Mindset?

4 Obstacles to Better Goal Setting

How Mental Flexibility Boosts Your Game

Can a Faster Brain Increase Sports Performance?

So You Didn't Make the Team? 5 Ways to Move On

Regain Your Confidence by Getting BIG

3 Ways to Develop Your Football Warrior Mentality

What's Your Backup Plan When 'Plan A' Fails?

Don't Take Your Headphones to the Gym

How Mentally Tough Are You?

A Coach Describes What It

5 Tips for Playing Mentally Tough Tennis

Visualize Yourself Winning, and You're Halfway There

5 Steps to Changing a Bad Habit

Overcome the 5 Most Common Mental Mistakes in Sports

5 Steps to Becoming a Better Coach

The One Word You Should Never Say to Yourself

4 Tips for Building Confidence

How to Improve Mental Focus on the Baseball Diamond

Make Goals, Not Deals

Growth Mindset: How to Think Like a Champion

6 Ideas to Build a More Cohesive Team

Prepare for Any Situation With Mental Sunscreen