Monday, March 18, 2013

A PSA To Coaches

First of all, this was initiated not by a situation with my child, per say.  The fury was bolstered by the 10 years of the idiocy of coaches, however.  Which, as a parent has frankly been a confirmation of my perspective of my own 37 years of personal experience.

Dear Coach of Any Sport:

You are not only an adult and caretaker in my child's world, but you have a unique postition of power and influence.  You are not a parent, but you have charge of every child's psyche on your team.  In 30 years, these kids will still look back and hear your words.  In many cases, this will be the first tag that they have to assess their worth outside of their parents.  Your words can give them drive and persistence.  Your words can break their spirits.  And I'm not just speaking of encouraging the talented of the group.  It is highly unlikely that you are coaching the next generation of Michael Jordans, Anton Ohnos, Jackie Joyner-Kersees, Kristy Yamaguchis, or Babe Ruths.  But you are coaching people that will go on to have lives, jobs, and relationships.

So hear me now, if a parent comes to you and tells you that their child hates the position you have put them in, don't come back and tell that same parent that child cannot be motivated.  Who on this planet is going to be motivated by something they hate as the reward??  I'm not saying you have to "start" every player, but seriously, what's it going to damage to have a rotation?  I can't really be motivated to set fire to my own socks, but you might be able to motivate me to wait another 10 minutes in a disliked position with the promise of  15 minutes of my dream position.  There is another child who is more talented that loves that position?  Fantastic.  It will build their character to play a position that isn't their favorite or their strength.  They will learn the valuable lesson that they are not deserving of priority over all others thanks to a genetic fluke.  They will perhaps learn patience and not to bully.  They will learn that life isn't always roses and gum drops.  I further doubt that it will destroy their chances at the major leagues, the olympics, or a college scholarship to ride the bench for a quarter.  It may, however, encourage true sportsmanship and team encouragement.  At the very least, a taste of real life, may help perspective down the road.

As a matter of fact, I'll take it one step further.  I will go so far as to say that it is imperative that we "let" kids lose.  Why??  Because it is the making of their character.  Losing in games and in play, allows them to practice coping mechanisms to failure.  If they never have the opportunity to fail, they will never learn how to brush themselves off and go on, learning from their mistakes.  If their lives are so insulated that they never learn to meet defeat and go back to fight, the magnitude of a defeat in the future can be catastraophic, perhaps even final.

We literally have people who are out of work because they refuse to take a job that pays less or that is not making use of their degrees.  Why?  I suspect it's because they have never been trained at humility or patience.  It's not the "low kids" who "deserve" these lessons, to "get them used to disappointment".  It's a favour we can give to all kids.  Everyone will go through a time where they aren't living their dreams...and it will give them compassion to others in the meantime.

And since when can you not play a game for the pleasure of the game?  Why must we be the best of the best OR spectators?  Why can't we play to feel the pleasure of wind in our hair?  Kids are struggling with obesity.  And you know what I think??  I think it's because we celebrate the best and crush the average.  I don't want to sweat or experience discomfort, if I am only going to be abused when I try.

I am sick and tired of coaches that use their power to live out their own failed dreams and crushing boys and girls in the process.  You winning in your tiny league will never satisfy you compared to a young adult returning to you thanking you for your support and encouragement.  You seeing a child's strengths  and telling them, help them see their own.  Even telling a kid that they are excellent encouragers and that their words have power on their peers will be a gift.  I am not telling you to lie to kids and tell them that they will be the next star!!!  I am telling you that you can be the voice that you wish you had heard.

99% of these kids won't play in middle school, high school, or be sport professionals, but they will ALL go on to have relationships with people who are better than them and worse than them.  And their perspective of superiority/inferiority will transfer to all areas of life.  Compassion is learned, not innate. 

SO.  I beg you, PLEASE coach their minds and not their egos.

1 comment:

  1. I love this! I quit playing team sports in junior high because it wasn't fun any more. It was all about winning and since I'm not super athletic, I wasn't "needed" on the team. I guess it didn't matter that I was having fun, learning how to be a good member of the team, learning about the dynamics of the game (science and math!), and doing something other than sitting in front of the TV. And we wonder why we have a generation of kids that think they should be rewarded for everything they do and why kids are overweight and not motivated to do anything outside.