It’s time to get in the game: Lessons from the sidelines

Craig Weinstein, Founder, MyTeamSpot

It’s time to get in the game: Lessons from the sidelines

Coaching sports is like running a small business. You’ve got lots of personalities, each pulling at your attention, time and resources. You’ve got the end goal—the title, the win, the successful practice, even. You’ve got competing interests, noise and emotions clouding your view. And you’ve got so much promise right in front of you, be it the players or that burgeoning business—and, sometimes, it can seem absolutely limitless.

When I launched, MyTeamSpot, a web- and mobile-based sports management tool, designed for youth sports coaches, managers and parents, it was those lessons that stood out most. For the first time, my life as a business leader and entrepreneur had fully intersected with my passion and learnings from decades on the field. The principles aligned, the takeaways overlapped and the strategies seemed like mirror images. As I moved through those first few critical launch weeks these powerful, actionable insights helped keep me head-down and in the moment, so I could make solid decisions and chart a smart, on-brand course to success.

Reflecting on my experiences I see endless overlaps for CEOs, business leaders and entrepreneurs. As I move through the next stage of MyTeamSpot’s evolution, these are the tactics I’ll live by and, hands down, they’re approaches that can help get you in the game in a bigger, better way.

Recognize—and leverage—strengths and weaknesses

Some players are fast. Others are killer defenders. Still others have the courage and accuracy to nail jaw dropping shots. As a coach, I see players grow into their strengths and form full identities around them, both on and off the field. 

As an athlete or a business leader, though, finding that strength isn’t enough—you’ve also got to come face-to-face with your weaknesses. By embracing where you fall short you’ll be able to accept yourself as an imperfect player, and ask your teammates for a boost. When you lose the ball there’s no time to dwell—adjust and look to your team to get you back in the game. What I do and don’t bring to the field needs to be balanced, supported and elevated by the people around me, be it customers, partners, teammates or, even, my own inner circle.

Be focused…and relaxed…and creative—at the same time

While so much has been written about the creative mind, I think it often overlooks the unique creativity I see on the field every day. Success in sports requires players enter into a focused state—he/she is in “the zone.” It’s in this state that homework woes, social conflicts, and personal goings-on fly out the window, and a player becomes hyper-attuned to his/her body, the flow of the game, the composition of players on the field, and the speed of the ball. The sensitivity in this state allows him/her to react quickly, improvise through complex situations, and, above all, think creatively. But what’s even more interesting—watching players in this state, it’s clear that despite the pressure and the number of nuanced decisions they’re making, they’re totally relaxed.

It’s a good and very simple business lesson—figure out how to get yourself in “the zone.” It’s easier said than done sometimes, but it’s a tactic I always try to employ when navigating complex decision-making and strategy that comes with running a business. Working from this state not only makes you better at what you do, but it also ensures you’ll continue to love it—the pace, the excitement, the adrenalin, the ups and downs.

Lastly—and it probably goes without saying—but you’ve got to get in the game. Head down, game face on, ready for action. It’s the cornerstone of my business approach and something I live and breathe every single day, on the field and off.

Together, this is the overarching perspective I take with me every weekend when I head out for games and every day when I sit down to tackle the challenges that lay ahead. In both instances, these insights give me the clarity and simplicity of thought to make smart, effective decisions and help steer both my players and my business in the right direction. No matter the nature of your company there’s likely something you can draw on from these examples, and ways you can better hone your strengths, weaknesses, team play and creative thinking to catapult your organization to the next level—or, at least, keep everyone charging ahead for the win.

[Image courtesy of KROMKRATHOG at]

About the Author

Craig Weinstein founded MyTeamSpot in 2012 while coaching his son’s soccer team and discovered his own need for a comprehensive team management go-to.  Between the complicated and ever-changing schedules, travel, rosters and player-specific needs, there was a lot to manage – and that cut into his time on the field. From here, Craig sought to develop the kind of management platform he himself would want, as a coach, a player and a parent.  With its all-in-one dashboard to the simple communication tools and automated scheduling system, MyTeamSpot fast became Craig’s personal tool for keeping his teams organized, and he quickly expanded to incorporate fellow coaches in his community.  Prior to creating MyTeamSpot, Craig has been working in the technology field since 1989, when fresh out of college, his boss at Price Waterhouse instructed him to write a generic, automatic, retroactive payroll system that would work for most government offices.  Since then, he has spent many years learning, writing, testing, designing and architecting software solutions.