Practicing What I Preach
Coaches trying to win at all costs sends the wrong message and can lead to abusive behaviors. Consider recent August headlines:
· Football coaches being investigated for hazing at Elk River High School in Central Minnesota and St. Paul High School in California
· Indiana Fishers Area Swimming Tigers coach Ken Stopkotte accused of altering 180 swim times
· Florida's Pompano Beach High School baseball coach Stephen Weigel accused of bullying
The desire to win can take a coaches' focus away from player development. Teaching athletes how to play the game, how to win and how to lose should be the emphasis in youth sport. The behaviors of the coaches above set a terrible example for young athletes.
Celebrating first win of the season in the rain ... EVERYONE played and had fun
That is why I had my 8/9 year old football players decide what team culture they wanted to develop this season. The kids voted and decided to emphasize: 1) bouncing back from mistakes, 2) playing smart, and 3) having fun. Coaches don't give helmet stickers for touchdowns. We reinforce the process of of how to play immediately (vs. the outcome of the play) by giving a sticker when exceptional effort is made, or when they demonstrate an ability to push the envelope, make a mistake and learn from it. At a time when mistakes are not tolerated, this decreases a young athlete's fear of failure. They learn that they have to make mistakes to succeed. It is more than ok.
You will see one player at practice wearing a dirty #11 jersey (which stands for "#1 twice"). At the end of practice he awards it to a teammate that best demonstrated the team's culture that day. That player is the role model for the next practice. This continues all season. ... But why not wash it? We reinforce players who 'get their jersey dirty' through hard work and effort.
Huddling (and focusing) in the rain.
Coaches teach mental toughness skills that can be applied to other areas of life like school or playing a musical instrument. You can teach them how to achieve. Through positive coaching you develop the skills that maximize their chances to win on and off the field.