First and foremost, one thing I’ve learned is that there are parents in both Florida and Texas that can do a better job than me!
Coaching comes with quite a few cons but the pros outweigh those tremendously. Every year you encounter parents of all types. Ones that don’t think their kid gets enough playing time, one that thinks you are too hard on their child, another one that thinks their child never makes a mistake, and yet another that thinks their child is the best on the team when you and everyone else in the stands know that’s far from the truth. You also encounter parents that stand on the sidelines or in the bleachers that coach the whole team and tell them to shoot constantly. The good thing is, as the years go by the better equipped you become with dealing with those types of parents in a more sincere and professional manner. The best part is later on down the road those parents thanking you for how you helped shape their child in those early years of their sports career.
That’s where the pros come into play. Those are the things that keep you coaching. It’s the, “Thank you, Coach!” the awesome victories, the improvements throughout the season, the hard losses that make you family and the many memories that are made within one season.
As a coach and teacher, I spend around 4 hours a day with my athletes on average. I get to learn so much about my athletes and its a blessing to be in the lives of young kids these days and being an inspiration to them. As coaches, we don’t have every athlete look up to us and not everyone we get to coach will be inspired by us. Sometimes personalities just don’t match, but for the most part, more often than not we tend to make some sort of positive impact on kids if we are doing our job right.
The hard lessons. They are not as easy on us coaches as the athletes think, but they are indeed necessary.
Last year we had a constant battle on locker room cleanliness. We decided as a coaching staff that wasn’t going to work this year. If anything was left on the floor during the period or after practice there would be consequences, even if it was something as small as a hair tie. What so many of our athletes don’t understand is that coaches don’t like consequences either. Do they really think we like to sit there and waste athletic period time or practice time making them run, do wall sits, and burpees because they didn’t put stuff in their locker? Bless their souls if they do, because that’s not what I’m there for. But, I am there to teach them respect and responsibility. I am there to teach them good habits. I am there to teach them about a good work ethic. And sometimes, consequences are needed to teach those things.
It was 2 weeks into school and here we were having to run because shoes and trash were left in the locker room. I had been appointed in making them wish they had kept it clean. I ran them and worked them until they were worn completely out. I had one athlete crying because she was so tired, but she kept going and we cheered her on to help her finish. That was a lesson and one they learned. I don’t think we have had to run because of a dirty locker room since that day and we are halfway through the school year. Let’s hope they keep it up and don’t forget those rules over the holiday break!
You have to learn to have a strong back as a coach because to be a good one sometimes you have to hurt feelings and be tougher than you’d like but its part of the game if you wanna get better. It seems hard to do in the society we have today though because we live in a world where everyone wants to be treated equally when that’s not the way the real world works, so it shouldn’t work in the 7th or 8th grade either. Sometimes failure is inevitable and we need to learn as early as possible how to accept that.
Everyone can’t make the team, so you gotta learn to put the practice in. Everyone is not going to play the whole time or even half the time, so you gotta learn to put the work in. That’s another con of coaching in today’s society. I have had plenty of athletes on my teams that are not really athletes at all but they made a team due to their eagerness to learn, their good work ethic and the fact those things won them a spot over the other girls that didn’t have those characteristics. Don’t misunderstand me, I LOVE having girls like that on my team, I love seeing them make gains through the season, I love seeing them be apart of something that THEY also love. But I hate that I can’t play them as much as I would like. Of course, when we are well ahead I will throw them in and let them play as much time as possible, but when games are close and mistakes can’t be made the team becomes more important than that player.
That may sound harsh, but being a team player is one of the huge things we have to teach. In my adult life, I have to understand that I am not always the best one for certain jobs and that’s how it is in sports sometimes. Few and far between to you get players that say, “No, don’t put me in, we’ll lose!”. You often have girls sad and confused as to why they didn’t play much or why they didn’t go in. As a coach it is our job to help them understand that and that’s not always an easy thing to do.
It takes some guts to be a coach.
Games. Games are when they put it all to the test. The time the parents get to come out and see all the hard works their kids have put in. As a coach, for me, games are the hardest and most scary times. Are they going to do all the things we taught them, are they going to panic, are they going to give it 110%, are the parents going to keep their cool? It’s a time of giving it our best shot as a team. It’s also a time of hoping you don’t make too many people mad with your decisions because you are going to make decisions that are best for the TEAM because that’s what we are.
Those wins are always fun, even for those athletes that didn’t play much because it’s a good feeling being part of something successful. Those losses are hard, even for those athletes that didn’t get to play much because failures don’t feel good. But, when you come together in the huddle and you tell them what they did good, and things they need to correct, and how we will work on that to fix it for next time because we are going to win next time, they get a little bit of motivation you didn’t think was possible. They don’t give up, because you still have hope and a little hope can go a long way!
I have teared-up with happy tears, with sad tears and most definitely mad tears in my short coaching career and I don’t see those tears stopping any time soon. The work that young athletes put in inspires me, the progress that they make every single year is motivating in itself. I think one of the best parts of coaching is being a part of a team again and being part of something successful.
Because everyone likes to be a part of something successful, right?