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How Ted Lasso changed my life

…and my perspective as a NICA coach

by Billy Calkins

Photo: Trusted Reviews, Creative Commons

Hello, My name is Billy Calkins. I’m a NICA coach…and I love Ted Lasso. I would say I am a hardcore fan of the show, but the reality is that the show became so much more than a show for me: Ted Lasso has, hands down, changed my life.

I’ve been a NICA coach for a little over a year now. I started watching Ted Lasso in December of 2022 and I haven’t stopped watching it since. I watch clips on Instagram, follow fan theories on Twitter, and of course, talk about it with our team’s head coach Mike McGarry, who is my Ted Lasso ride-or-die.

I love to talk about the life lessons I observe and learn from the show any chance I get. Obviously conversing with fellow Ted Lasso fans is great, but some of my favorite talks are with people that have never seen the show. I love sharing how I’ve applied the “Ted Lasso Way” to my day-to-day life. I can’t promise there won’t be spoilers, but my goal here is to get you to watch the show in all of its glory and spread “The Richmond Way”.

If you care about someone, and you got a little love in your heart, there ain’t nothing you can’t get through together.

Ted Lasso

Now, for those who haven’t seen Ted Lasso (yet!), let me catch you up (by sharing the Wikipedia summary…)

“Ted Lasso is an American sports comedy-drama television series developed by Jason Sudeikis, Bill Lawrence, Brendan Hunt and Joe Kelly, based on a character that Sudeikis first portrayed in a series of promotional media for NBC Sports’ coverage of England’s Premier League. The show follows Ted Lasso, an American college football coach who is hired to coach an English soccer team with the secret intention that his inexperience will lead it to failure, but whose folksy, optimistic leadership proves unexpectedly successful.”

There’s something to be said for having your own leadership style and sticking to it. As NICA coaches, we establish a coaching philosophy, style, and cadence as we work with our teams. Similar to a great NICA head coach, throughout the show, Ted let all of the characters flourish with their ideas, their own coaching style, and also coached them along the way. Take this clip, where Ted listens to an unlikely source for inspiring offensive plays: 

This is one of many moments of inspiration from Ted. So, without further ado, here are a few more of my favorite Ted Lasso coaching philosophies to consider in your role as a NICA coach:

A charismatic and humorous approach

Ted Lasso uses his wit and humor to connect with people and inspire them. Similarly, a NICA coach can employ humor to create a positive and enjoyable learning environment. Using jokes, funny anecdotes, and lighthearted banter can help build rapport with riders and make the coaching experience more engaging. It’s the first and most basic rule of connection, but simply learning and knowing student-athletes’ names goes a long way too! Take a look at Ted’s first day, and his first meeting with Nate

Positive reinforcement

Ted Lasso emphasizes the importance of positive reinforcement in his coaching style. He motivates his team members by highlighting their strengths, encouraging them to overcome challenges and fostering a supportive atmosphere. Similarly, a NICA coach can utilize positive reinforcement techniques to inspire riders, boost their confidence and cultivate a can-do attitude. Praising their progress, acknowledging their efforts, and celebrating achievements can go a long way in keeping them motivated.
“For me, success is not about the wins and losses. It’s about helping these young fellas be the best versions of themselves on and off the field. And it ain’t always easy, Trent, but neither is growing up without someone believing in you.” – Ted 

Unconventional approaches

Ted Lasso often applies unorthodox methods to teach and inspire his team. He thinks outside the box, using unexpected tactics to create memorable experiences. He looks at everyone as a leader in the locker room, keeps his door open for comment or concerns and lets people speak in front of the group when it’s their idea(s). Similarly, a NICA coach may incorporate unconventional approaches in practice: organizing creative drills, inventing fun challenges or introducing unconventional exercises to keep the riders engaged and make the learning process enjoyable. Side note: not all of these get a video because there are a lot of…ahem, “choice words” in Ted Lasso. I’ll let you travel down the YouTube rabbit hole yourself. 

Building a strong team dynamic

Ted Lasso places great importance on building a strong team dynamic and fostering a sense of camaraderie. From staff in the front office all the way to the team bus driver, everyone is kind and cares about each other. During away-game travel, Ted would give the team a choice of group activity. This intentional team-bonding shows how he values teamwork, trust, and unity among his players. Likewise, a NICA coach can focus on creating a cohesive team atmosphere among riders. Using off-the-bike activities, coaches help build connections between teammates. Encouraging cooperation, facilitating group activities that involve athlete voice and choice, and promoting a supportive environment will not only enhance the overall team experience for riders, it will also give them a sense of belonging within the team.

Balancing fun and skill development

Ted Lasso understands the importance of balancing fun and skill development. While he brings humor and joy to his coaching, he also ensures his team members develop the necessary skills to excel in their sport. Similarly, a NICA coach can infuse enjoyment and laughter into the training sessions, while focusing on honing riders’ technical abilities, improving their endurance, and enhancing their overall performance. A classic dance routine would certainly work on core and endurance during practice!

As a NICA coach, it’s easy to draw parallels between Ted Lasso’s coaching style and NICA’s coaching values. The significance of humor, positivity, unconventional approaches, team dynamics and skill development is evident in both contexts. So I leave you with this last Ted Lasso moment:

About the author

Billy Calkins is a coach for Wisconsin’s Madison East high school team, and social media coordinator for the Wisconsin Interscholastic Cycling League. When he’s not coaching or spinning up Instagram reels, he’s out in the community, riding his bike, sharing the stoke, and making connections.