Thoughts On Being A Coach

For those of you who routinely read what I write, you know that I closely follow the current research from Tim Elmore.  Not only do I enjoy his insight and opinion on today’s youth, I appreciate that he doesn’t shy away from telling it like it is.

I hadn’t intended on posting today, but his daily blog this morning gave me an opportunity to relate his thoughts to youth athletics.

His post can be read here.
If you’re a parent, teacher, coach, or any adult who deals with kids in any capacity, it’s worth 5 minutes of your day to read.

Within that post, Dr. Elmore includes three points that reminded me of posts I had previously written.  First, he writes about the idea that while we always love our kids, we don’t necessarily always like them.  My wife and I have three boys at home – ages 9, 6, 4; I could describe, very candidly, a personality trait of each of them that drives me nuts (and I would describe them except my wife usually reads these…it’s much safer for my own well-being to not elaborate on the annoying traits of the boys).  When these negative traits surface, we try to point out the negatives and educate the boys on better ways to handle the current situation.  (In theory, at least; like most parents, sometimes we just take the easier route and yell at them.)
The second point in Elmore’s post that I picked up on was the need for healthy leadership to guide kids through the roller coaster that is childhood.   Elmore’s comment is, “Students who are jerks need to see healthy models of emotional intelligence and mature behavior.  They don’t need to hear a lecture – they need to see a lifestyle.”
The third statement that jumped off the page to me was his final comment about our role in raising future adults.

To the first point – coaching is just like parenting, except with an even wider range of personalities.  My wife and I recognize that the three boys living in our house are made up of completely different personalities that we struggle to manage from time to time.  If we, as parents, can recognize the difficulty in dealing with the personalities of the three kids we know best, it shouldn’t be hard to imagine the difficulties for a coach to deal with the personalities of 40 different kids coming from 40 different backgrounds.  Thinking back to my coaching days, I can remember the kids I had the most in common with as easily as I can remember the kids I struggled to relate to, but I tried like heck to coach them all well – just like most parents try like heck to parent kids well.  What we need the public to understand, however, is that managing all of those personalities isn’t easy.  It’s a daily grind that results in good days and bad days, but we do the best we can.  My previous thoughts on this can be found here.

To the second point – I elaborated on this topic in this post from last spring.  Take a couple minutes to read that post because it sums up how I feel about good coaching.  Coaches have the benefit of being able to lead a group of kids who want to be there.  Think about it – kids get to choose their coaches, but they don’t get to choose their parents or, usually, their teachers.  We, as coaches, have a willing audience asking to be led by us on a daily basis.  It’s our responsibility to lead them the right way.

To the third point – we’re dealing with kids.  If you’re coaching at the high school level or lower, you have a roster full of kids.  You can label them with any fancy euphemism you’d like to, but they are kids.  As I’ve written about before, don’t forget that they are kids, and make sure that we are allowing them to be kids by keeping a healthy perspective about youth sports.

Coaches – don’t forget that our job is to lead all comers.  We get kids through our doors in all shapes, sizes, and temperaments, and it’s still our job to provide a safe and healthy environment for learning.  Keep coaching ’em all up!

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