After I finished sharing my reflections yesterday I knew I still had a few lingering in the archives of my mind waiting to be processed. So, today I will add them to the list. Most of the reflections are from track, but I will also add a few from basketball. I shared reflections after coaching the 7th grade girls team in the fall, but because of busyness and a day off before track started I never shared reflections from the 8th grade boys basketball season.
Once again I offer these reflections from coaching very humbly, recognizing that they are my thoughts and reactions and not necessarily anybody else’s. I also recognize that I think about and take a different approach to youth sports than many other people. I don’t always share the thoughts behind my reasoning, and maybe through the course of this blog I will some day, but don’t always feel the need to express myself. Perhaps, in these lists you will get a glimpse of where I am coming from.
- From the Head Coach: Heidi, my wife and Head Track and Field Coach at Homedale High School, shared this with me this morning. “You have me thinking about more reflections this morning … one I’m stuck on is when there is respect, encouragement, and a positive environment, you get more out of kids … harder work, better results, more leadership.
- Judas Didn’t Get It: Perhaps this reflection is a bit broader than just my thoughts and observations from sports. Okay, I know it is. I’ve been thinking about Judas as I interact and work with people. Judas spent significant time with Jesus, and in the end he still decided that he didn’t buy in and opted for a different path. I’m convinced that this will happen every once in awhile in our work with people. Sometimes we can agree to disagree, sometimes we can’t. I wonder what Jesus’ thoughts were about Judas? Did he weep? Did he run through conversations and interactions in his head? Did he think “Father, forgive him”? Sometimes on our teams with players and parents there is total buy in, and sometimes there is not. There are a variety of reasons … some of them valid. I think as coaches we have to humbly examine those reasons, and know when we need to stick to our guns (thoughts, philosophy, approach) and when we need to rethink. I don’t think Jesus needed to rethink what He was doing, Jesus knew the mission, and was steadfast. But since we are fallible humans we have to be open to God’s guidance and the leading of the Holy Spirit as we coach.
- A Better Coach: I’m a better coach because of the young people I get to work with. I’ve learned to better listener, to have empathy for the athletes, and to really try and hear where they are coming from. Three years ago one of the girls I coach shared with me how she responds when coaches yell excessively for no apparent reason. She just tuned them out. I started watching other coaches and athletes, and noticed that most young people tune out when their coaches use yelling as coaching tactic on a regular basis. I wasn’t much of a yeller before, and I am even less of one know. I’ve learned other things from shutting my mouth and listening to my athletes, and I am grateful to them for the things I have taught me.
- Saying Goodbye Is Hard: We have our end of season team awards banquet tomorrow night, and I will probably cry like a baby at it. When I’m sharing with people my thoughts about how awesome they are I can get emotional. Last year I cried when I talked about a sophomore, and didn’t even say anything about a junior except “I can’t do this two years in a row, I will say something next year.” Now, it’s next year and she is a senior, and there are several other seniors … saying goodbye is hard. This happens when you invest so much in the lives of the young people you work with and coach. You grow to love them, and develop amazing relationships with them and it is hard to not work with them in the same capacity anymore. The cool thing is that the relationship continues and changes. I love it when they swing by the house to say hi when they are home from college, or they just need to stop and visit. Tomorrow night will be hard, I’m already preparing myself because it will be good too.
- PR’s: One of the reasons I like coaching track is because if athletes work hard and focus on being their best selves, competing against themselves daily to bring out their best, they can see results. I don’t care about places, but I am passionate about young people working hard, and doing their best. In track and field everything is easily measured, and athletes can see the result of their hard work and effort. They get times, distances, and marks for every event they do and we keep track of those things. The goal is to progress throughout the year and peak at the end of the season. We measure their distance, times, and marks and celebrate Personal Records or PR’s. PR’s allow the athletes to see the result of their efforts … pushing themselves to be their best.
- There’s Always Been Basketball: I’m contemplating a book by this same title. This year I was able to coach my son’s 8th grade basketball team, and I now know this is exactly what I needed to do this year. We were having trouble finding an assistant coach for the B team, and so before Christmas I asked my dad (a retired teacher and coach) if he would like to help. I also had one of my former players volunteer to help. So, this season I got to coach my son, and coach with my dad. How awesome is that? (The answer is very awesome.) In January we found out that my dad’s cancer came back and all I kept thinking was that I was glad he had basketball practice and games to give him something else to think about. My dad and I have shared a lot of experiences on the basketball court, and I am grateful we could share this past season together as well.
- Hand Shake: I always teach my basketball teams how to properly shake hands. I don’t know why I started doing this but I do think being able to shake hands properly is a valuable life skill. One of the fun things for me is when I get to shake former player’s hands. Every time I show up at the middle school one of the young men who played for me this year comes up with his hand out ready to shake hands. (I told them to always be prepared when they see me.) Lately, some of the guys I’ve coached in the past have been coming home from college for the summer … lot’s of proper handshakes. Good stuff. I just think you can tell a lot about a person from how they shake hands and I want to make sure my players represent themselves well. Plus they will use the art of shaking hands more than they will use their cross over dribble.
- A Space to Belong: One of the goals of our track program is to create a space for young people to have a since of belonging. Within this environment they are free to be themselves and connect with their friends and coaches as they see fit. Positiveness, encouragement, and support are on display and being a great teammate is of the upmost importance.
- Being a Good Teammate: One of the things I saw on display often was how great of a job our track and field athletes did of being good teammates. They loved each other. They supported each other. They encouraged each other. They cheered for each other. They talked to each other. They joked with each other. They mentored each other. They helped each other. They coached each other. They looked out for each other. They were good teammates.
- In The Grand Scheme of Life: In the grand scheme of life high school athletics are a small blip on the radar, but they can have great impact. I think it is good to keep this in perspective as we work with young people, and understand that high school athletics are extra-curricular activities that are one part of their training and education. Let’s make sure we don’t put undue pressure on our young people while encouraging them to do their best and have fun.
- Rest: I think rest is important and I think one of the reasons we had such a successful season is the way we included rest within our training schedule. Our message the last few weeks during training as been “go fast, and full recover.” Proper rest allows student athletes to shine when they need to shine, and reduces injury and burnout. Sabbath rest is an important topic in the Bible, and I believe is one that needs to be encourage in youth sports for the best results to be obtained.