Leadership 101

simple insights for those in leadership

Coaches . . . Get. A. Grip!

Before going on my rant and then offering some thoughts, let me start with a disclaimer.

I get it. I really do. I’ve coached baseball for the last ten years, everything from tee-ball to high school varsity and every age and competitive level in between. I also assisted as a basketball coach for a number of years (which is really funny if you know me well and my complete lack of basketball abilities). I’m also a parent. I sit in the stands and on the sidelines. I’ve watched great coaches do their thing with my daughter and terrible coaches “bully” their way around the gymnastics floor. I’ve watched coaches with great technical skills work with my kids and coaches who might have lacked all the knowledge but loved kids. I’ve also seen some flat out terrible coaching and officiating as a coach and as a spectator. I really do get it.

But coaches, it is time for a reality check. It’s time to get a grip.

I had the opportunity to go watch my nephew’s rec basketball championship game last week. I won’t mention names or teams or locations because shaming a particular individual is not the point of this. The teams were comprised of 14-15 year olds. After another bad call by the official in this game, one of the coaches went flat out crazy. Yelling and screaming at the officials (two of which were just high school kids). Cursing … loudly in front of everyone. Then picking up chairs and slamming and hurling them into bleachers. Nuts. Insane. And sad. Very very sad.

Coaches, it’s time for a reality check. Time to get a grip. There’s no money on the line here. No parade. No scholarships. No visit to the White House if you win. No Coaches Hall of Fame. This is not about winning and losing (although we all want to win). What is on the line are the futures of the kids you are coaching, and I’m not talking about their athletic futures. Whether you like it or not, as a coach, you are a leader and therefore a role model. Kids look up to you. Your example speaks more loudly than you will ever realize. Much more is caught than ever taught. Your primary job in coaching these kids is not to win championships but to shape the character of the next generation of athletes. A fraction of a percentage of the kids we coach will ever get a scholarship to play their sport after high school. An even smaller fraction will receive a cent for doing it. But…the character that you have the privilege of shaping in part will stay with them for the next 50+ years.

Coaches are leaders and a leader’s most important attribute is his or her character. The very nature of the position makes you a role model. Eyes are on you. It’s time to figure this out. Time to stop making it all about you. Time to steward the responsibility of building the character of the kids you have the privilege of coaching, leading and being a role model for. Enough is enough.

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February 26, 2019 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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