Purposeful Coaching

By October 25, 2013 No Comments

Basketball season is right around the corner. As a coach there are so many things to get organized and prepare before the season tips off. I believe one of the most important things to do as a coach is to reflect on your goals and reasons for coaching. This week we’re going to discuss three reflective questions each coach should ask themselves prior, during, and after the season. I have long thought these questions were important and they were only reinforced when I heard Brendan Suhr and Billy Donovan discuss them on a CoachingU Podcast.

The first question we must ask ourselves is why am I coaching? This may seem basic and straightforward, but greatness lies with simplicity. This is the most important question a coach must answer. Coaches must have a reason, a why, for what they do. Hopefully it’s beyond the scoreboard, because if it’s not, it will lead to a lifetime of frustration and emptiness. My why or reason for coaching is simple yet profound. I coach to impact as many lives as possible. I am a very competitive person and want to win, but for me the most important thing is the relationships you build with people. By reflecting on this question and coming back to my why, I am energized, motivated, and prepared to take on the upcoming season.

The second question coaches must ask themselves is how does it feel to be coached by me? One of the greatest qualities we possess as humans is our ability to empathize. Great coaches are able to show empathy towards their players. Let’s not forget what it was like to be a player. Too many times I hear of coaches being overly demanding without keeping the athlete’s other commitments in mind. Coaches should keep in mind the stresses of academics, athletics, and teenage life. If we’re able to show our players empathy, it will develop trust. We’ve all had good and bad experiences with coaches growing up, hopefully more good than bad, so we should emulate the coaches who made our experiences fun. Our number one goal as a coach should be to make our athletes’ experience as enjoyable as possible.  As coaches we need to create an environment that includes trust, respect, and love. No athlete should ever feel unwanted or unappreciated. Coaches need to take the time to thank all athletes, regardless of skill level, for their contributions to the team.

The final question coaches must ask themselves is would I want to play for myself? Start off by creating a list of the traits you’d like your own child’s coach to have. Then take the list and evaluate it to see if your traits fit the list. It would be best to have a player or fellow coach do this. Players want to play for coaches who are motivated, inspiring, demanding, loyal, loving, and knowledgeable. Coaches need to find ways to motivate and inspire their athletes. Each kid and team is different, so variety and originality are key here. Believe it or not, kids today still enjoy being held accountable. The problem is that we as adults fail to hold them accountable. Players respect coaches who demand a certain level of effort, attitude, and conduct. They lose respect once we fail to hold them accountable. Players also love playing for coaches who show loyalty. Mike Matheny of the St. Louis Cardinals is a great example of this. He will take the fall for his players so they don’t get trashed in the papers. He will take the blame for an error just so his players don’t have to take the heat from media.The players respect him and give their all for him. It’s no coincidence they have had great success. As coaches we also need to show genuine care, concern, and love for all athletes. The best coaches and teams have love in their hearts for all team members. Everyone feels this and wants to do their very best for the team. Players also want to know that their coaches really know what they’re talking about. Coaches must be extremely knowledgeable about their sport and must continue to learn. Great coaches are lifelong learners. They find ways to keep things fresh, changing drills, schedules, and routines to keep things from getting stale. A coach should never do something just because “it’s always been done this way.” The best coaches evolve with the times and players want to play for those coaches.

Coaches, what are some of the things you reflect on as your season approaches?

Players, what type of coaches do you love to play for?

Parents, what traits do you look for in your son or daughter’s coach?

As always, thanks for reading, have a great week, and be an RGP today!