Minnesota Hockey Magazine

Tearse: “Coach Said … ”

(Photo by Joe Korkowski)

What you say, and do, as a coach matters to your players.

There are 53.8 million kids playing sports in the United States and the most common phrases they all say to each other and their parents is, “Coach said….”.  Because kids pay close attention to what their coaches say and do, coaches hold great power to influence young people.

Research shows that in the hierarchy of adults coaches have the highest position in the minds and hearts of their players. Understanding this stature places quite a responsibility on youth and high school coaches.  What you say, and do, matters.

Coaches have a choice between being a transactional coach or TRANSFORMATIONAL coach.

Transactional coaches are concerned primarily about winning games. The inevitable results are, short benches, misplaced priorities, too many games and similar strategies that supports winning as a priority.  These strategies can be successful in the short run but they leave kids empty, uninspired, and looking elsewhere for what they need. The strategies also drain the depth out of a program as fewer kids develop the passion they need to sustain their participation and fulfill their potential.

Transformational coaches are concerned about developing the players’ minds, body and spirit. Transformational coaches  can  change the lives of their players in a positive direction and give the players the  skills they need to succeed in life  and not just  in hockey.

A transformational youth coach:

  • Play all players regardless of game situations.
  • Treats all players fairly
  • Models sportsmanship
  • Teaches respect for the game, teammates, officials and opponents
  • Is patient and takes time with every player to help them overcome obstacles and build confidence
  • Understands that to be successful a coach needs to teach each individual and the team as a whole.
  • Has a strong set of values that guide their daily interactions with individual with players and the team.

A transformational High School Coach:

  • High school is supposedly about winning! And yes winning is important. But high school coaches can also be Transformational and arguably their teen-age players are desperate for this type of adult in their lives. This age group is where coaches can make the biggest impact on their players.
  • With all of the attention and pressure placed on high school players their coaches need to help keep them grounded and provide an environment in which they can succeed regardless of the final.

With all of the knowledge and resources we have about how to inspire and support our young people in in sports, it only makes sense that we not tolerate anything but a transformational approach to coaching. This approach can be hard and it can be challenging at times but the effort is worth it. Youth sports are called “Youth Sports” for a reason. It is about our kids.

Illustration by Jeran Schmidt

Illustration by Jeran Schmidt