Fall sports have kicked off across the country. It’s an exciting time for all involved in athletics. Coaches have a lot on their plate and sometimes the essential coaching obligations can be overlooked. This week we’re going to take a look at what coaches must do. Here are 10 coaching obligations that every coach needs to follow.
- Never put winning on a pedestal. Coaches should never overlook the significance of academics. Athletics should not take precedence over academics or character. It is our responsibility as coaches to blend athletic skill and competition with academic achievement. One of the things I tell my players is what they are as people is far more important than what they are as athletes. Winning a game should not take precedence over academics or character. The reality is the vast majority of high school athletes are finished playing once high school is over. We are doing them a disservice if we don’t stress the value of a quality education.
- Be a role model. It’s not like Charles Barkley’s infamous commercial from the 90’s where he stated, “I am not a role model.” We as coaches are role models whether we like it or not. In order to be a great role model we have to display high moral character and always exercise sound ethical judgment and practice. As role models we must always conduct ourselves with dignity and honor; not just when the spotlight is on us.
- Treat all with respect. Coaches must treat all players, staff members, parents, opponents, and officials with respect. This means coaches should never use threats, never humiliate, or ridicule others. We should always remember what goes around comes around. In order to get respect we must first give it.
- Promote safety at all times. The well-being of student athletes should be the number one priority of coaches at all times. The health and well-being of an athlete should never be compromised just to win a game. There should never be a scene like out of the movie, Varsity Blues, where a coach encourages an athlete to shoot pain medicine to mask an injury in order to play. Along with this, coaches should educate their athletes on proper nutrition, hydration, as well as care and prevention of injuries.
- Promote sportsmanship. Sportsmanship has to be taught. I feel as if this is something too many coaches just glaze over. It’s not enough to simply say, “I expect you to be a good sport” or “We practice good sportsmanship around here.” Well what does that mean? Coaches must make teaching sportsmanship a priority. We should always take the lead and model the correct behavior while always remembering to be humble in victory and gracious in defeat.
- Provide honest evaluation. As a younger coach I did not do this enough. I was too afraid of hurting a kid’s feelings. Now I realize I am doing more harm than good in not giving them an honest evaluation of their skills. I would advise young coaches to be as honest as possible with their athletes. Players deserve to know where they stand and what they need to do to get better and earn more playing time. Coaches must provide encouragement and motivation for the athlete to improve.
- Communicate. As coaches we must always maintain clear expectations within our programs. We should be open, honest, and approachable towards all members of the program and to parents and administration as well. Coaches should hold regular team meetings and one-on-one meetings with players to maintain quality relationships and clear lines of communication. By having clear communication we allow others to do what they do to the best of their ability.
- Teach the fundamentals. More games are lost than won and much of the reason lies with poor fundamentals. Little things make big things happen. I’ve never understood why, but too many coaches overlook fundamentals. They focus more on the plays they run rather than the players who run them. What would you rather have at the end of the game, two good plays or two good players? I’d rather have the players. We should not teach advanced concepts and drills until the basics have been mastered.
- Maintain a positive image. Image is key. How we look on the sideline matters. Coaches should maintain a professional appearance at all times. Jeans should never be worn on a sideline. If we want people to take us serious, we must dress the part. Act like a leader and you’re in charge. Have pride in yourself, your appearance, and your program. Image is key.
- Be positive. I saved the most important for last. It is our obligation as coaches to make our athletes’ experience as fun as possible. As I mentioned earlier, most athletes are finished playing after high school so we should make their experience enjoyable. Teach them more than the game. Positive energy in contagious and it inspires. As coaches we are the beacons of hope. After all, the relationships we build are more important than the wins we accumulate. Positive wins!
Did I leave any obligations off the list? Do you agree with mine? I’d love to hear your thoughts.
As always, thanks for reading, have a great week, and be an RGP today!