August 18, 2009
Volume I, Issue 8
Being a Responsible Coach
It is mind boggling to think about the number of people we have given the title of “coach” to over the years in the various levels of sports. Coaching a team can be a life changing experience for any parent who has a child in youth sports, or sports enthusiast and an even greater experience for the many young people they touch through the trials and tribulations of a sport season. There have been many outstanding coaches who have given the time, energy, expertise and leadership that have made a tremendous impact on the development of our youth. What a great opportunity and responsibility we have to influence so many young people during a time in their development as athletes and, more importantly, as people. Some of my most influential mentors who helped shape me into who I am today were coaches throughout my youth.
We cannot argue that the foundation of our character is built by our own parents, although for many young people, it is their coaches that provide them with the moments and experiences that ultimately make a difference in their development as adults. I can look back today at the coaches that I had in elementary school, Little League, high school, and other various leagues that I participated in up through my college career. I can remember every name, and more importantly, what kind of influence they had on my life. That is a very powerful statement and it proves the point that Responsible Coaching can have a tremendous influence in shaping the character of our youth. I was influenced so well that I chose to coach as a profession. To this day, I continue to thank the coaches in my life for the guidance, discipline, encouragement and knowledge they’ve instilled in me over the years.
When we make the choice of becoming a coach, it is imperative that we understand some simple guidelines that have been proven over the years to provide the proper environment for our youth to develop their athletic skills, but more importantly, the skills they will need to be successful in life. These principles are the foundation of the Responsible Coaching coursework on ResponsibleSports.com.
Coaching is a privilege and great coaches have to wear many hats. The most successful coaches have the teaching skills of an educator, the training expertise of a physiologist, the administrative leadership of a business executive and the counseling wisdom of a psychologist. But the most important role you play in youth sports is to teach character. Coaching for character is helping your players know the right thing to do and then helping them to do it right!
Guidelines to coaches for teaching character:
- Of the game and to its rules and traditions
- Of your opponents
- Of the officials
- In victory and defeat
Responsible Coaches conduct themselves by a code, which Responsible Sports and Positive Coaching Alliance call "Honoring the Game." To remember the components of this code, remind yourself and your players that Honoring the Game means respecting the sport's ROOTS. The acronym ROOTS helps remind us that we must respect Rules, Opponents, Officials, Teammates, and Self. Learn more about Honoring the Game and ROOTS.
- Prepare yourself to do your best
- Be punctual for practices and games
- Be self-disciplined
- Be cooperative with your teammates
Our society tends to put scoreboard results ahead of everything else. Responsible Coaches care about the scoreboard, but they care even more deeply about instilling a "Mastery Approach" in their athletes. A simple way to remember the three keys to the Mastery Approach is another Responsible Sports and Positive Coaching Alliance acronym, ELM, where ELM stands for Effort, Learning and M istakes.
- Help your teammates play better
- Support teammates – Encourage vs. Discourage!
- Be generous with praises; stingy with criticism
- Play for the team, not yourself
Responsible Coaches keep players' “Emotional Tanks” full. Responsible Sports and Positive Coaching Alliance refer to a person's “Emotional Tank” like a car's gas tank. When it's full we can go anywhere we want to, when it's empty we can't go at all. Players with full “Emotional Tanks” give Responsible Coaches some distinct advantages like being more coachable, more optimistic and better able to handle adversity. See a youth softball coach in action with her team as the players fill the “Emotional Tanks” of their teammates in the video “ Softball Buddy System.”
- Play by the spirit of the rules
- Be loyal to your team
- Make good choices on and off the field
- Admit to your own mistakes
Jessica Mendoza talks about how she learned to overcome mistakes as a youth softball player and how her softball lessons have carried over into life lessons in the video “Handling a Mistake.”
5.) Be Fair
- Treat other players as you wish to be treated
- Be fair to all players, including those who are different
- Give all players an opportunity to grow & succeed
- Play to win within the rules
In Coach Candrea’s “Player Development” video, he talks about getting kids to understand how to handle failure, and how that moves right into teachable life-long lessons.
6.) Be a Good Citizen
- Be a good role model
- Strive for excellence
- Give back to softball
- Encourage teammates to be good citizens
One way to demonstrate to your players to strive for excellence and how to act as good citizens is by Coaching Beyond the X’s and O’s. Responsible Coaches, beyond the X's and O's, teach athletes life lessons in persistence, teamwork, sacrifice, effort, empathy, discipline, leadership and overcoming adversity.
Until next month,
ASA & USA Softball News
The 2009 USA Softball National Coaching School presented by Liberty Mutual is Nov. 20-22 at the Robert Livermore Community Center in Livermore, Calif. The cost of the school is $175 per-coach but individuals who have their application postmarked by Sept. 1 will receive a discounted rate of $150. Deadline for registration is Oct. 30, if all 250 spots are not filled prior.
School instructors include current and former members of the USA Softball National Team staff including former Head Coach Mike Candrea, 2009 Head Coach Jay Miller and 2009 Assistant Coach Ken Eriksen. Among the instructional topics are hitting, pitching, catching, in fielding, out fielding and responsible coaching.
Register today. >
ASA Softball is proud to partner with Liberty Mutual Insurance to bring the youth softball community the Responsible SportsTM program, dedicated to championing and celebrating responsibility in youth sports. We believe that some of the most influential individuals in young people's lives are parents and coaches. Visit ResponsibleSports.com to learn more.