Friday, February 29, 2008

Are you a good coach or a great coach?

Think about it for a second. I believe that all of us think that we are good coaches or at least we ASPIRE to be good coaches. We make sure that we are organized, we prepare for our practices, and we make sure that we do our best to pass our knowledge of the game on to our players. We teach the fundamentals of our sport from both the physical and the mental side of the game with the hopes that at the end of the season our player’s will be a much more developed and well-rounded athlete. More importantly, as their coach, we do our best to leave our athletes with the desire to continue playing for years to come. We help fuel their passion for the game. And hey…If our record shows more wins than losses, well, that’s pretty good too. If we can achieve these things, then we can go to sleep at night knowing that "Hey, I am a pretty good coach".

But how many of us are GREAT coaches? How many of us ASPIRE to be great coaches? How many of us truly know what it means to be a great coach? I guess that before we can define what being a "great coach" is, we need to define what just "being great" is. All we need do to find the definition of greatness is to turn to the greatest coach of all time….Jesus Christ. For in the Bible, Jesus tells us what the definition of greatness is. In the book of Mark, Jesus says to his Apostles "Whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first among you must be a slave to all". What does that mean? Well, the message that I get from that passage is that in order to be great, you must put your own needs and wants aside and do everything that you can to assist others in achieving their needs and wants. Not always the easiest thing to do is it?

Now, how do we take the definition of "being great" and apply it to being a "great coach? I believe that first and foremost as a coach you must realize that it is not about you and it is not only about teaching your athletes how to be a better baseball player, or basketball player or gymnast or whatever. Realize that the majority of the athletes you coach will never make it to the High School fields of play. If you are a High School coach, realize that most of your athletes will never play that sport again after High School. The length of the athletic careers of the ones you coach will for the most part be very short lived in the grand scheme of their lives. So wouldn’t it make sense to spend a little more time teaching your athletes life lessons as you are "teaching the game".

To be great, it means that we are to put the needs and wants of others before our own. So, does that mean that because we have a player on our baseball team that wants to be a pitcher that we let him pitch, regardless of whether or not he can throw the ball over the plate? Put one athlete’s wants ahead of what is best for the team? Of course not! However, what we can do is take that athlete and help him achieve his goal of being a pitcher by working with him. Spend some extra time with him providing him with the tools and instruction that he needs to reach his goal. Tell him how hard that he will need to work to achieve his goal. Teach him important life lessons such as perseverance and work ethic. In other words, don’t hold him back because what HE wants isn’t really what YOU want. Realize that as a coach, God has given you the incredible opportunity to help shape the lives of many others. With that opportunity also comes tremendous responsibility. That responsibility, in my opinion is to not just be a good coach, but a great coach. Seek to serve your athletes not for your own personal gain, but for theirs.

Thursday, February 28, 2008


Coaches.......What does the word respect mean? One of the first things you ought to communicate to your team is the importance of respect. In seasons past one of the first things I tell all my parents is that I am a little old school and I expect all my players to say Yes Sir, No Sir, Yes Ma'am, and No Ma'am and I would like their help in this at home as well. I get overwhelming support in this area. I then do not back down on this issue.

In baseball there are many ways to teach respect, here are just a few areas that we should teach respect in:

Coaches, example above
Umpires: Do not ever let your players say anything towards an official. Remember they are going to act what you model....WOW.....that's not easy.
Other Team mates: Do not allow your players to down grade another player or make fun of them, teach them to use positive words. It is perfectly OK for players to get on to one another and keep each other in line as long as it is not degrading.
Opposing team: You should not allow your team to make fun of, laugh at, or talk trash to the opposing team. They should show respect and win and loose with dignity.
Equipment: Players should be taught how to treat their equipment, i.e. helmets should never be thrown and everything should be put in its place every time.

With all the examples above, it will start with YOU the coach. If you model and train them by example and then teach them about respect you will be amazed at the outcome. Remember respect can not be forced but must be earned.

This makes a great "bucket talk". You can even go into how even with the 10 commandments in the Bible start with the first three talking about God's place in our lives and places God as our ultimate authority and then later it talks about how children are to honor their father and mother. It doesn't say, they have to like everything they are ask to do or not do, but it does command us to honor our father and mother.

As you begin to teach your players about respect and honor, their hearts will open up to hear about a Creator God who loves them and wants a relationship with them. Feel free to comment or email me at anytime. Thanks for what you do in the hearts and lives of your athletes.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Training Coaches makes better husbands, fathers, employees, and friends

Originally upon starting this project my goal was to help men and woman become "Coaches" who would one recognize their influence and platform on the fields and courts of play. What I have discovered is a group of men who are all asking the same questions in life and desire to know their Creator in a personal way as they go through a life that is hard.

What is the single greatest trait of humanity? Many traits could be discussed such as love, compassion, humility, trust, friendly, integrity, consistency. In his book "Season of Life" Joe Ehrmann explains that EMPATHY is the greatest trait of humanity. Although that may be true, compassion is probably a better trait, because we will not always be able to identify with a particular issue any one person may be going through but I can always choose to be compassionate regardless of my ability to empathize with someone. Meeting the needs of others does not require empathy, but does require compassion for fellow mankind.

Parts of our past mold who we are and how we respond to life situations especially on the fields and courts of play. Our relationship with our father can have an influence on our lives. In "Season of Life" 3 kinds of dads are described:

1. Totally absent Father. Never home and when at home doing his own thing.
2. Has presence. this dad may be around but son or daughter would not Know their father and understand who he is and what he believes.
3. Strategic Dad. this would be the dad who spends time planning and working through how to raise his children to be men and woman who are built for others and on purposes teaches his children life lessons that will last a lifetime.

What kind of father are you? More importantly what kind of Coach are you? Do you recognize the platform you have called "Coach".

Thursday, February 14, 2008

From Ballfield, to bedroom, to billfold

This week's discussion revolved around what does it mean to be a man and what does that look like as we relate to other men. Our world would have us believe that real men are defined by their athletic ability, therefore how they perform on the ball field has a lot to do with how much of a man they are, we are then lead down the belief path of thinking we should "get" the prettiest most popular girl, after conquering woman we should then strive to have the highest paying job with a lot of status and power. When we have worked our way through those stages of life we will have become real men. This could not be further from the truth and what we teach and how we teach it on the fields and courts of play could have a profound positive or negative effect on the hearts and minds of athletes.

The question as been asked, do men have any real friends? Friends who would care enough about them to hold the accountable for things, thoughts, and actions we would all say are noble and right. Is it necessary for men to have real friends?

When you coach do you tell your team you are proud of them even in a lose for the things they did right and the effort they gave? Or, do we only praise when a victory is gained, what lessons are we teaching young athletes about life when the only praise that takes place is when there is a "W" in the win lose column?

More to be written this weekend as we didn't get a chance to discuss all the topics this past week. Let me and others know if you have thoughts about this post or any other post. Keep coaching the heart as well as the mind and body.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Are Coaches training boys to become Men or training them to be disfunctional?

As you think about our society and specifically what is being taught to our young men through their coaches it can be scary. Young boys are being taught that money, fame, and power is what it means to become a man. They learn at a young age their self worth comes from how well they perform on the field or court of play; later come to believe that they should attract the prettiest girl on campus and do what feels good just be careful, and then as they become of age, do what ever it takes to climb the ladder of success to reach a position of status and financial freedom. As described in the book "Season of Life", Jeffrey Marx writes about Joe Ehrmann who teaches that real men should base their manhood on their ability to have and maintain relationships, live under a code of conduct, and find a cause to live for that is bigger than they are. This is great advice, but so different from what our world teaches.

When I started this round table for coaches I asked the question: "what is the definition of a successful coach?" The answers varied but the conclusion was to have athletes who would grow up and could recognize and point back to us as coaches and say: "that coach taught me lessons about life that I can carry throughout life". While this is certainly true, Joe Ehrmann explains it by stating he would not know for 20 years as we are able to look at the young men we coach now as husbands, fathers, and involved citizens in the community.

My challenge to coaches today is simple: Do you spend as much time preparing to teach your athletes the fundamentals of the game as you do in preparing to teach them the principles about life that will make them good husbands, fathers, and citizens?