What the Travis Scott Documentary Taught Me About Coaching

Most people when they see this will probably laugh, but hear me out because I think there is some real value here. I’ll be honest, I watched this partly for research and part curiosity. I’m not the biggest rap fan, but put in a good beat and I’m all in. Although I also enjoy country music, so my music choices instantly become great or terrible depending who you ask. What I know is that Travis Scott blew up and that my kids love him, and I’m fascinated by the path of successful people and anything that will help me better understand my players so that I can be a better coach. Granted, some things about my kids I’ll never quite understand…like why kids will take pictures of nothing to keep up an irrelevant Snap streak…but that’s just me.

Regardless of what you think of Travis Scott, or his music, we can agree he captivated so many kids. You can see it throughout the documentary, people and kids would go crazy trying to get near him and his concerts were pure chaos. Why?

He modeled it and encouraged it, with his stage presence, going in the crowds and body surfing, bringing the kids that we’re going to get kicked out on stage with him. Yes, it’s insane that many times people would get severely hurt at these things, but he wanted people to be as absurd as possible and THAT into the music. How does this tie into coaching?

He created an environment where kids felt free to be themselves and let go. By picking kids out of the crowd, by physically going into the crowd with them, not pushing them away when they got too crazy, he made fans feel like he was with them and not above them. He especially picked out the kids that got the craziest, as to encourage this behavior even more, to reward the kids displaying behaviors typically looked down upon. The kids became part of a select group that had “survived” a Travis Scott concert, propelling the sense of belonging even more. It’s not surprising to hear a kid say he came out of depression through this experience. Especially at a time right now where suicide and mental health struggles are hitting closer to home, it’s crucial to make kids feel less alone. By creating spaces for kids to let go, be themselves, to feel like they belong, is exactly what so many of us are after - not just kids. 

As coaches, and players this is why we love sports. The feeling you get when you’re in the zone and not thinking, when you see your teammate make the game winning shot, or when you’re struggling through a workout and your teammate picks you up. As leaders, we have the opportunity to create the environments we want to coach in if we choose. It doesn’t always come easy though, it requires you as a coach to get in the trenches and model the behaviors that you want your players to show. If you want them to be energized, then you have to bring that energy. If you want players to show up with their authentic selves, then you must be yourself. If you want to create belonging, you have to make players feel like they belong, feel like they matter. Not only will you help your players execute plays and work better together, but you’ll make their lives better too.

I haven’t quite figured out the formula, but today I asked the players to answer why they were playing lacrosse this season and one of my returners said, “last year we created a family and I want to grow that,” and some of the freshmen gave an obligatory “aww” and I could hear it in their tones they didn’t quite get it. All I could do was smile and laugh because they have no idea what they are about to get themselves into, and I can’t wait to see it all unfold. Creating and changing culture is honestly the hardest thing I’ve attempted to do and I commend people like Travis Scott in creating the movements they have. I might not agree with everything he does and says, but I’ll take the positive lessons where I can and I hope you do too!