This is the time of the year that we have both the NBA Finals and Stanley Cup going and talk about which team has the better coaching as well as players. The players we all knowhow we talk about them, who is better? Which player is more clutch than another, who is the G.O.A.T. for this year, (I will get back to this one at a later time). What people do not talk about much is the influences of the coaches on the players, as well as former coaches.
We all know how much professional coaches influence players, helping them become more professional, how they should act with the media and fans. How to stay out of trouble, manage the money they get, stuff like that to mold them into the players that they want to coach and have on their team. Us fans also hear all the time about how the players are like kids to the coaches, and they help them get acclimated to the lifestyle of a professional. These coaches are just the end point in the learning cycle of these players life, it all starts at a young age.
When professional players first get into the sport they do it because their parents want them to for one reason or another. It could be just to have something to do, or meet knew people and get friends, or even to try to get the kid to love the game they did when they were a youth. This is were the learning starts, sometimes the kids get their parents as a coach or even other kids parents that they may know.
Every coach is different, some love to win and will do anything to win, while others want everyone to be involved and get them to love the game. The first type can sometimes be good at a older age as they get the players to start to have that burning fire and desire to be great, if they are doing it right. But the other type is great for the younger group that is just getting into the game, because the young players need to stay in the game and have something to look forward to.
Both these coaches do one thing in common however, they teach these kids important life lessons. They start at a young age reinforcing a mindset of teamwork, helping teammates and not putting your teammates down. That is a key to every great athlete is the ability to recognize that sports are not a individual effort but rather a team effort. This lesson helps the players start doing more selfless things on and off the playing surface.
The next level of coaching teaches sportsmanship, this is started at the first level somewhat by the coaches have the players shake hands after, but most of the kids do not know why they do that. So the second coach has the duty to teach them that as well as show the players how to maintain sportsmanship while in the middle of the game.
Other coaches in the future will teach more, and different things to these players. One thing is for certain if you ask any player what they remember most about the years they played, not about how they played, who they played for, but rather what they learned. They may say “I learned a certain skill in this sport,” or they may also say “I learned that we have to play as a team and it is not all about me.” That is where you learn who cares about the game and actually wants to further their love for the game.
The one thing that every player does say is that their coaches are their role models. That is what every coach should hope for, that the impact that they have on their players was so positive they those players consider them someone to look up to. Whether or not the coaches know it they play a huge role in the lives of these young players, they can serve as a second dad in some cases, a dad figure in others, or even just a person to talk to. If you want to be a coach be someone that kids will look up to, that they would like to be like when they grow up. That along with being able to teach not just the sport, but also life lessons is what helps these kids more than just knowing how to perform in the sport. Coaches are the lifeblood of youth sports and helping future youth become great people.