What is it, really, that is so important about having coaches. Certainly in the future we could replace our flawed, fully human and mistake-bound selves with robots that have more knowledge than I’ll ever have. There’s no shortage of how-to info or even easy access to it out there these days. What’s really the most important thing I can provide as a coach that they can’t get online, at a camp, or by reading.
Connection. The most important asset a coach has for their players is the human connection. I can give them my belief in them, my care and concern for them, my understanding, my patience, my guidance, my accountability, my feedback, and my adjustments to their feedback that make me a better coach.
And what can we do with that connection? Guide them to find out they are more than they knew they could be. Not just by teaching them more skills or pushing them harder. But by the sheer power of that connection, that belief in them.
Humans come into everything they do with self-imposed limits. We all have a roof. Some have a relatively high roof, with goals under it that they feel are reachable. Others are being crushed by a short roof that feels like they’ve already capped out their talent, that growth is unlikely. That roof has risen and lowered with their own confidence level, but it’s always there. Whatever height roof they come in with, my job is to show them how to rip it off, remove the ceiling. To show them that there are no real limits.
I want them to do something that’s outside of and above the roof they’ve built. Something that challenges themselves to do exactly what they believe they cannot do. That they thought only others could accomplish. To have the courage to step onto a new path knowing they will likely fall down just to teach themselves that they can get back up and keep going. That drive and persistance can erase those self-made boundaries and thoughts. They can expand growth potential beyond their own comprehension and think bigger, wider, and deeper than before.
How can I do something I don’t believe I can do? How can my growth not only impact my sport, but my life, and even the lives of those around me? What if I’m stronger than I thought I was? What if my teammates are struggling with the same ceiling, and what happens when we break through it together?
What kind of player does a coach need on a team that is multidimensional and has limitless potential? How do we manage team selections with that in mind? A coach needs players with heart, desire, the will to learn, the courage to step outside the lines and try something different, the tenacity to get back up and embrace failure. A coach needs players who will trust in and believe in their teammates – even when those teammates fail and let them down because we’ve committed to allowing mistakes to sharpen us. A coach needs players who will trust in and believe in their coaches – even when those coaches fail and let them down, because at times, despite being on the same path and wanting the best for their players, coaches do, in fact, also step out on a limb, fail and let players down.
A coach and the players need parents who are ready to jump into a limitless future for their daughters and sons. Parents who agree to not allow talk in front of, or to, their child about blame, comparison, and doubt. Who avoid the would have-could have-should have conversations. Parents who celebrate the learning opportunities with discussions that let the player talk about those mistakes and how they would approach it next time, letting the player talk through and walk through this journey with full support in their own learning process. A coach and players need parents who realize that connection is the most important thing, and that when a disconnect and misunderstandings start to form, a reconnect is a priority before anyone loses sight of the goals or starts rebuilding those limits once again.
Who does this team need to come out and play? Everyone who wants to be a part of it. Every person who loves this sport, who wants to be a part of an adventure- because that’s what stepping outside of comfort zones and blasting through ceilings really is. Every player has a role, and every role has a value that makes a team and a season what it is. You may not know that role yet, and even as you step into the season your role may change – maybe even more than once. But each player fills a piece of a puzzle that would lay empty without them. All of the greatest athletes in the world cannot make a well rounded, inspired, limit destroying team if they don’t have the right personalities to build something of real value. If you want to be a part of something, part of a group that’s about to test the limits and then free themselves of those limits then this is probably just what you’re looking for. Start making your list. What can you accomplish that you never thought you could? What lives can we touch and make better through our own sports experience, how can this be so much bigger than us?
The adventure is coming. The inside jokes, the new ideas, the tried and true favorites, the traditions, the new traditions, the struggles, the connections, friendships, and the realization that YOU can be and do whatever it is that you can just believe you can be and do. Every learning opportunity is a new adventure if we always choose to see it as a door opening. That path didn’t work? Thank you for trying and showing us that we need to open a new door, where shall we go next?