An Open Letter to Coaches
I know that your job security is often dependent on wins and losses. But I hope you know that your job is much more than that. I hope you know that you have an incredible amount of influence and responsibility. Yes, you are responsible for your players’ on-field development and performance. That’s in the job description. That’s why you get paid the (not-so) big bucks.
You have to ensure that your athletes are getting the very best when it comes to skill acquisition, but also strength training, injury prevention, etc. I am tired of talking with your athletes and hearing that they weren’t able to get a workout in their SCHOOL WEIGHT ROOM because they were kicked out. You have to fight to provide your players with necessities like that because that is how they get better.
But you also have a hand in your players’ off-the-field development. A successful coach is one that helps their athletes grow as people. Develop them as a whole. You are supposed to provide your athletes with an environment conducive to growth as a person. You must provide them with every opportunity for success, while using defeats as teachable moments and invaluable lessons. Your athletes are impressionable; they are still young, still learning, and still molding their outlook on the world. You have to be mindful of just how malleable they are. It is your job to be a role model. Many times the locker room takes shape based on your personality and temperament. You must model conflict resolution and accountability. You must show respect. You have to know when to pick battles and argue with officials. You must set high expectations and display the work ethic necessary to meet (and surpass) them. You have to embody the TEAM concept. If you don’t, then your team sure as hell won’t.
This game isn’t about you. People don’t drive a few hours to see you coach. People come to see your players PLAY. This game is about them. You have had your time in the limelight. It’s their time now. Let them have it. Coaching is a thankless job. The good ones don’t get credit and the bad ones get blamed. But that’s the way it should be. The game can still be played if you aren’t there. Take away the players? You are left with nothing. This is why you need to check your ego at the door. Don’t make this about you. You have to do what is best for the team and for the player as an individual. You want your guys (or gals) to run through a wall for you? First, you have to run through walls for them. You want them to respect you? Respect them. Show them,, that no matter what, you have their best interests at heart. And don’t fake it ’cause they will see right through your bullshit. Don’t play favorites. You are the adult in these situations. Act like it.
You are not going to like every single one of your players and you will butt heads with some. But how dare you demean them. How dare you cloud their future in the sport by letting your pride get in the way. Be the grown up. Handle the situation with aplomb. Don’t constantly throw shots at the player during team meetings or post game huddles especially if those shots are completely irrelevant to the preceding game/practice. Your player is still a kid. A kid with feelings and insecurities. And miss me with the “everybody is soft nowadays” bullshit. That’s a cop out. It’s never been ok to demean a vulnerable person especially one that is taught to bow down to your authority as coach. That’s just bullying. Don’t turn your back on a player that did everything that you have asked of them just because they want what is best for their future. You should be cultivating that future and doing whatever you can to make it brighter. The player has sacrificed for you. Reward that sacrifice.
Your players are not pawns in your plot to further your career. You will achieve success and upward mobility when you develop strong, capable young men and women.
You have an incredible platform to promote positivity and growth. Use that platform, but don’t abuse it.