Friday, 20 January 2017 18:27
To Be a Coach Takes Maturity
Maturity and sincerity are essentially saying that certain people always have their cards face up. We know where they stand, and we know where we stand with them. This is an essential ingredient in getting along with people, an essential ingredient in being a coach. There is no pretense, hypocrisy, arrogance or evasiveness; coaches have to be real all the way through. Personal integrity, humility, courtesy, and wisdom all refer to the special qualities of a mature coach, one who teaches about loyalty, fair play and honor. I am continuing to notice an issue that is becoming more and more disturbing to me. That issue is how important a coach’s ego is at athletic events. And it is becoming more obvious that too many of these coaches are getting so emotionally involved that the competitions are becoming more about them than about the kids. If you have attended a youth sporting event, I am sure that sometimes you have heard or noticed a coach yelling or screaming at officials, the players, competitors or even the parents of their team. Often, they make such a spectacle of themselves that it becomes embarrassing for the players and the school or program they represent. And, maybe most importantly, most people don’t know what to do. All too often, I have often observed coaches talking to their teams and referencing themselves in their discussions. They will constantly use the word “I”. They will refer to how they feel, how much time they put into coaching the team and how disappointed they are when the players don’t perform to their potential, at least as the coach sees it. I am hearing about more and more situations where coaches are being penalized or ejected from games. Not just at the professional or collegiate ranks, but also at youth competitions for kids under age 10! Why? Because the coach has gotten so emotionally involved, that he/she loses perspective. They take losing as a personal threat to their reputation as a coach and place the blame on the players. They get so emotionally wrapped up in the game, they forget it is about the kids, about development, learning skills and most importantly having FUN. Let me turn this around, let me outline some of the true logistics in the nature of sports, especially when it comes down to winning and losing. First of all, one of the “Cardinal Sins” of coaching, especially at the youth sports level: Do not take losing personally! As a coach, become the teacher you’re supposed to be, and learn from the “failures,” yours and the players’. Don’t be condescending, and remember this, kids don’t make mistakes on purpose. The maturity that a coach must have comes with experience and knowledge. If you’re just getting into the world around coaching, especially with youth programs, prepare yourself. Take some coaching courses, do a lot of reading, study the good ones. I recommend the old school guys like John Wooden, Dean Smith, Don Shula, Joe Torre and a famous high school basketball coach by the name of Bob Hurley who is from nationally renown St. Anthony’s High School in Jersey City, NJ. But, warning to you from me, try not to emulate these guys, just learn from their methods of teaching. Guys like Bobby Knight, a coach who I consider my mentor, had the philosophy of striving for perfection, but he knew it could never be achieved in any sport. These are the fundamentals for the maturity of becoming and being a coach: winning is easy, losing is hard, but you obviously will learn more from losing than winning, at least that’s what I have learned in my 40 plus years as a coach.