By Hailey Unger/Coach Education Coordinator
Coaching gives you the opportunity to give back to your sport and your community while having a positive impact on the lives of athletes. Whether you’re new to coaching, or have been in the “game” for a while, here are some helpful tips for success:
As a coach, remember that you have a responsibility to be a role model, ally, supporter and leader to a group of athletes looking to you for guidance. Your athletes learn what is acceptable based on the way you behave during and away from competition. It can be difficult to self-reflect and make changes but the more often you assess your performance, the quicker you can make interventions on yourself, which will impact your athletes.
Your athletes need to feel as though you have their back and you believe in them. Team bonding activities can foster positive relationships and respect on a team and its coaching staff. Take some time to go do a paint night, figure out an escape room, or plan some ‘minute to win it’ games to build the foundation of a positive team culture.
Talking about respect with your athletes can go a long way on and off the competition floor. Have them identify what respect looks like, sounds like, and feels like. Sportsmanship is a skill that needs to be taught just like every other technical portion of your sport. Put together some scenarios that could happen in competition and brainstorm ways that you can show respect to the opponents, parents, officials, teammates, and coaches.
PLAN, PLAN, PLAN! Don’t leave things to chance or assume anything will work out without a plan. Athletes are looking to you for guidance with their development and dreams so take the time to make a plan and double check it.
Expanding your knowledge has always been important in the world of sport. Every sport is constantly changing with new techniques and new training tools to get the best results. Seek out as much information as you can from as many different resources as possible! Every coach has experienced different situations and has advice to give. Let’s face it, there’s no secret to successful coaching that will fall from the sky. But connecting with other experienced coaches can give you new perspectives on the game and tools for your coaching toolbox.
In the new age of technology, learning is now easier than ever before! From new apps that record and analyze performance, to new fun drills on Instagram, resources can be found in seconds. Coaching Manitoba offers NCCP courses on a variety of topics specifically geared to coaching topics and many other professional development opportunities and can be accessed through the Coaching Manitoba website at https://www.sportmanitoba.ca/coaching
Build up those communication skills and never stop working on them! Communicate expectations and goals to your athletes. Do they agree? Do they have different ideas of what they want to focus on at practice? Also, communicating with parents can create fewer issues as the season goes on. Have an open and honest discussion with each parent on how things are going with their athlete. Just like at school with their teachers, parents are invested in their child’s performance and want to know how they can best support them at home.
As a coach, you also need certain elements to perform at your best. Rarely do coaches stop and think, “What do I need today” because the focus is typically on the athletes. Do you need rest and processing time when getting home from a big tournament or trip? Do you set aside time for yourself every day to not be “coach” anymore? What makes you happy outside of sport? Self-care for coaches is important for creating a sustainable coaching career. Don’t be afraid to set boundaries and stick to them. We’re all human and in order to best serve our athletes we must first check in with ourselves.
Take a look at your core values and decide what is important in your life. Those values will shine through in your coaching, so identifying them early can guide you when making certain decisions. When you become confident in what’s important to you then you will feel more at ease with the choices you make for yourself and your athletes.
*This self-care information is attributed to the 'Where's The Finish Line?' course, taught by Donna Harris and Adrienne Leslie-Toogood.
As soon as the worth is placed on the outcome, instead of the process, the passion for the activity will be lost. Athletes won’t remember every game won or every skill performed perfectly. What they will remember is how coaches make them feel. Athletes get into sports because they are fun and as coaches we have an obligation to not let that fun fade at any level.