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Nicole Van Dyke is the head coach of the University of Washington’s women’s soccer team. She previously served as the head coach at the University of Pennsylvania and as the Associate Head Coach at Stanford. Below, she spoke to Just Women’s Sports about the challenges and opportunities of coaching from afar amid the coronavirus pandemic.

What is it like to be coaching remotely right now?

It’s an unprecedented situation, because we, as coaches, are wired to be in front of our players — interacting with them on a daily basis. Now, we’ve resorted to strictly phone calls, texts and Zoom. It totally changes the dynamic. You’re now asking kids, “Hey, can you come off of mute for a few minutes?”

Having just taken over the program, we’re trying to view this as an incredible opportunity to engage with our student athletes in different ways. Some things that we’ve derived from it have been awesome. That’s not to say that there haven’t been challenges or obstacles, but we face those and try to find unique ways to continue moving forward. Ultimately, this isn’t going to last forever. We want to be in a position where health and safety are the number one priorities, but we also want to stay connected with our team so that we’re ready to compete whenever that is allowed.

How much of your day-to-day is spent on Zoom?

With all the rules about how long you can connect with players, we don’t want to monopolize their time with meetings. We want to make sure they still have time to do the voluntary workouts, despite the fact that they’re not mandatory. With Zoom calls, they can monopolize your day and players can become Zoomed out. Then, it’s hard for them to get out of the house and get outside.

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What have been your coaching priorities given that practicing in person as a team is now limited?

We spent some time on culture and leadership. We’ve also reviewed film. We’ve tried to do some fun things, whether it’s playing Kahoot or some other interactive game to keep the mood light.

We’ve also focused a lot on the mental side, which we split into two parts. There’s the mental health side with coping skills and resilience skills. We, as a staff, believe that these are skills you can acquire and work at. Then, there’s the sport performance mental side where we focus on how players can be their best in tough moments and how they can persevere in high pressure situations.

We’ve tried to balance all of this information with time for small groups. That’s an opportunity for those who maybe don’t have the personality to jump out and engage with everyone, or don’t want to show as much vulnerability in the large group to connect with different coaches in smaller groups.

How have you continued to motivate your players?

I got an email recently saying, “Win the wait.” …read more

Source:: Los Angeles Daily News


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