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.

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