COACHES CORNER: TWO FOR TUESDAYS ~ The Top 10 Lessons I Learned As A Coach

29 Jan

Five Weeks – Two Lessons Each Week


Although though this post is geared toward coaching, if readers will tweak it to their own circumstances, it’s pretty relevant to parenting and teaching, as well.

7.     IF YOU DON’T FOLLOW THROUGH, YOU WILL NEVER, EVER (I MEAN NOT A CHANCE, HERE) EVER BE A GREAT COACH WITH A GREAT TEAM: When I was in the CHEER! MICHIGAN office every day, I heard from the same coaches with the same problems – week after week, month after month and for too many of them, year after year. Most of these problems centered on respect and discipline. Either the kids were disrespectful by challenging coaching decisions or refusing to complete a training task or the parents felt free to barge into practice demanding that their child be an exception to some rule or requirement.

So, we’d talk about the structure of the team and how the rules were presented. More often than not, I would find that these coaches held a ‘Mandatory Pre-Season Meeting’ but some of the parents (almost always the ones who we were talking about) didn’t bother to come. So my first question was if the meeting was mandatory and the consequence of not attending was that the student could not try out, and worse, that the parent that was challenging was the one who didn’t show why on earth did the coach let the athlete still tryout and make her team?

And every single example a coach could give me was just like that – the rules were in place, the expectations were clear, but the coach did not have the courage or resolve to hand out the necessary consequences that would send the message that she stands by her standards and will do whatever should be done to keep the integrity of the team intact.

In the end we know that kids (and their parents!) want strict guidelines and clear structure. It gives them that secure safety net that athletes and students crave and respect.

8.     HUMOR IS KEY: If you have the choice to correct a mistake by either yelling at a kid or getting your point across with gentle sarcasm (not the nasty kind) or good humored ribbing, do your best to make it the latter. Or at least start there….

There are times when straight talk to a kid or a team is impactful: when mistakes are being made way too many times, when kids are leaning toward defiance (see #7 for solving that problem) or when one particular athlete is being a ‘team blocker’ and making it difficult for the rest of her team to conquer a specific task. In those cases, I have absolutely no problem with coaches calling a kid out in front of the team (I have little tolerance for not wanting to embarrass or discipline a kid with his teammates around if that kid is causing a problem for the entire team).  In fact, I favor getting right to the point and right to the athlete rather than saying a vague “some of you are….” When a coach fails to nail a problem or an athlete and everyone knows what the trouble or who the troublemaker, the coach looks pretty wimpy and in essence, silently announces to his team that anyone can cause a problem since it won’t be dealt with!

However, if you can get your point across by using humor and making a potentially tense moment light, do so. Maybe you have just requested your athletes to warm-up by running a mile and you catch someone rolling their eyes. Instead of screaming that because Susie rolled her eyes the whole team now has to run two miles, maybe just look over at Susie sweetly and ask if a fly just flew into her upper eye lids because you are SURE she wouldn’t be rolling her eyes at an opportunity (running) to improve her stamina and make her team stronger. Right? I promise, Susie will get the message, as will her teammates and no one will be rolling their eyes at you for some time.

 Remember – never, ever ignore a problem. Nothing should get by you – not a swear word, not an eye roll, not a lazy day or anything less than giving 100% every time you, as the coach asks for it. But the thing we want our kids to take away from their organized sport experience is FUN….so try to lighten up when you can.

One Response to “COACHES CORNER: TWO FOR TUESDAYS ~ The Top 10 Lessons I Learned As A Coach”

  1. stacy sheler January 29, 2013 at 11:59 am #


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