Sport has the potential to develop character as well as reveal it.
A major focus of amateur sport should be on developing character rather than preventing it from being revealed. Adhering to this focus requires us to re-evaluate our perspective on success in sport. I believe too often we allow the attainment of percieved worldly success; wins, championships, postional titles to hide the process used in their achievement. The ends justifying the means seems too easy and contrite. I believe the viewpoint of too many in sport is the end is all that matters as long as we can keep the means hidden.
Please hear me, I am not saying there is anything wrong with pursuing and setting as goals wins, championships and titles. I am saying we need to constantly evaluate and take personal accountabilty of the path we choose to take in pursuing those goals.
It is time to recapture the right perspective on sport, where how you live daily on the journey is more important than reaching the destination. To refocus our perspective. To understand and live out that it is acceptable and may be long-term beneficial to come up short trying to attain the public symbols of success; if we are meeting the standards of character on the journey we are still successful. A purpose of sports is to be a vehicle to teach life lessons, to use sport as a tool and metaphor to develop character and reinforce healthy societal values. Unfortunately, too many of us have to come to view and place the value of sport in obtaining wins, championships, and positional titles and fame.
Redefining the perspective on success in sport is not going to be easy. It is going to take courage. It is going to take a willingness to change; a willingness by people to risk losing some revenue and/or some positional status. But most importantly it is going to take personal accountability. It is going to take all of us involved in sport in any fashion at any level, to be courageous enough to daily do the right things. To be courageous enough to speak up; to stand against the wrong pressures; to walk away from the temptations and trappings; to risk our own positions or career paths to do the right thing.
Doing the right thing is not someone else responsiblity. It is not at a level above us. It is not something we have to wait for permission to do; and it may not be popular to all involved at the time. But it is what we all need to do. Understand none of us willl ever be perfect we will all make mistakes on our journeys, but we need to and can be a part of creating a sports system that helps us work through our errors rather than feeding a system that trys to cover them up.
Devote yourself to loving others, devote yourself to your community, devote yourself to a purpose or a passion.
Tuesdays With Morrie
Coaching provides a great opportunity to live out this mantra. Love the people and players you work with. Improve your communty; coaches are fortunate enough to be in a position to impact this. Be passionate about the opportunities you have; if you aren’t you are probably trying to live someone else’s passion.
Coaches have an unique opportunity to work with young people in a forum that they are truly interested in and desire to excel in. This opportunity creates a responsibility. A responsiblity to best serve your athletes in the sport and use the sport to prepare them for their opportunities outside of sport. Coaches need to help players learn to be devoted to more than themselves and the simple accolades available in sport. A coach should be devoted to the following goals along with devoted to winning games. I also think winning comes easier when the following goals are achieved by coaches.
- Help players identify their gifts and find their passions.
- Provide them experiences in which they can benefit others and their community, so that they may see the benefits of living life well.
- Help them identify ways in which their unique giftings can be applied withn a team so that they may discover how these gifts can be applied to the larger world around them outside of sport.
As coaches we need to help players improve their performance and use the on court performance to help them learn how to improve their performance off of it. There is no greater reward for a coach than seeing their devotion displayed through others finding their passion and sharing it
Everything should be made as simple as possible, and no simpler.
— Albert Einstein
As coaches the simpler we can make things the easier it is for players to understand the priority. Too often we think that effective equals complex, that simple equals inferior. Yet so much evidence points to the opposite. The success and the relentless pursuit of simple by Google serves as a prime example in the business world. The benefit of the pursuit of simple is also applicable in athletics, the most successful coaches are the ones who make the game simplest for their athletes and teams.
The challenge for coaches is to seek out honest feedback on the simplicity of their teaching. As coaches it is hard to identify our own weakness in keeping our teaching simple and most effective without outside feedback. Yes it takes courage to invite someone in to evaluate our teaching and help us to be our best, but isn’t this what we are trying to do for our players. Also, this process doesn’t have to be a painful experience either. An effective coach of coaches understands the best approach is to ask questions that lead to self-awareness as that is the quickest path to lasting and effective change in behaviors.
Common pitfalls that lead to complexity in our coaching can be:
- A coaches own lack of clarity on what are those truly vital priorities to success in their system. Due to uncertainty or not having spent the time to ask themselves the question
- Falling back on doing things that were done to us and teach the way we were taught
- Feeling the pressure to make things more complex to justify their position