Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The Right Impression

I have coached two soccer teams in the last 15 years: a boys team, the Vipers, and a girls team, the Avalanche. The teams are approximately ten years apart in age. Recently, the boys--now out of college--have come out to help me coach the girls--now freshmen in high school. The guys have been around the girls enough to be seen as big brothers, but I need to them to be seen as coaches.

After practice today, I talked to Chris, Tim, and Anthony about how they have to switch gears from someone that is there for fun to someone that is there to teach. "You have to realize," I said, "that they hear everything you say and listen to the way you say it." Although the girls are all growing up rapidly, you still have to pay attention to the impression you make. Arrive on time, work hard, set examples. Be serious when seriousness is called for. Be fun and funny when that makes sense, too.

Next to parents and teachers, coaches have greater opportunity to influence children than many coaches realize. Creating a successful team environment--regardless of winning percentage--sets them up for success in life. How many organizations today profess to be team-based or team-builders? In my company, we call our alliances with other businesses "teaming agreements" and  we evaluate individual performance based, in part, on how well a person works within a team.

On the athletic field our children find ways to grow, to communicate, and to play together. Their ability to do that, molded here, will serve them well throughout their lives. We, as coaches, need to be committed to that concept and do everything we can to make their time at practice and in games worthwhile for the long run.

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