Excellent teacher-coaches are able to provide a meaningful journey for the athletes they find themselves around.
They create experiences that set in motion the athletes aspirations to provide more:
Effort, Desire, Passion, Commitment, Development, Intensity, Skill Development and Leadership Growth.
Athletes that participate for teacher-coaches like this love to interact with the coach, be praised by the coach, learn from the coach, and have the coach provide constructive feedback. This type of teacher-coach is an important person in the life of the athlete and influences the athlete on and off the field in the millions of decisions that are made over the course of an individual’s lifetime.
Most athletes are deemed “lucky” if they get to play for a teacher like this throughout their lifetime of athletics. That should not be the norm…The norm should be all coaches working towards becoming an excellent teacher-coach, always looking to see how they can further develop and be the positive influence so many sport participants need.
Over the course of the last week, I performed an unscientific survey of coaches that I know asking them to tell me about their favorite coach and what type of attributes this person possessed. These were athletes that performed at various levels including high school, club, college, and the professional ranks.
The results from this survey were amazing. Nearly each person stated the same five characteristics for their favorite coach. These attributes are listed below:
- Honest/Approachable/Great Communicator
- Emphasize positive relationships
- Dedicated to success of athletes and program
- Educated in teaching, altering leadership style for varying situations, and providing effective feedback
Some ideas that were presented to me about these amazing teacher-coaches were:
- The coach was always studying the game, trying new activities, tactics, and games in training. He was always looking to keep us engaged in everything we did.
- Coach went above and beyond with his players by spending numerous hours before and after practice to mentally and physically provide meaningful experiences for the athletes. Coach was willing to work with the top or bottom players on the depth chart. He just wanted to see passion.
- Provided honest communication by telling me that I may not make the team the following year. Immediately I knew right where I stood and how hard I was going to have to work to make the team the following year.
- Coach went out of his way to ensure each member on the team was having an exceptional experience in the appropriate developmental environment.
I also noticed a few attributes that their favorite coaches did not possess. These attributes are listed below:
- Negative towards athletes and other coaches
- Authoritarian style of leadership
- Treating winning as the most important aspect of coaching
- Playing favorites at training and in game situations
- Using sarcasm to demean players
It seems to me that successful teacher-coaches understand how to reach the athletes that study under their training.
Learning how to be this style of coach does not happen overnight. Just like the athletes that the coaches work with, hours and hours of learning and practical application have to happen prior to this level of success.
Brad Nein, an Academy doctoral student in Sports Management, writes the blog EducatedCoaches.com. He is the Coaching Director at Storm Soccer Academy, a competitive soccer club in Savannah, Ga. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.