Green River Star -

By Lu Sweet
Western Wyoming Community College 

Lifelong Learning: What makes great coaches


March 21, 2018

I read an article in the February 2018 edition of “Coach & A.D.” titled “What Makes Good Coaches Great?” The author, Kevin Hoffman, listed five attributes of great coaches.

After reading the article, I found myself thinking that these traits are not good just for coaches and for me as an educator and administrator, but for me as a parent as well.

The author started by mentioning “passion.” He said, that with coaching, a coach can have all the sport knowledge in the world, but if they aren’t sincere about coaching and teaching young people, it’s meaningless information. An invested soul is everything. Similarly, as a parent, of course I love my children, but I need to be genuinely interested in what they are interested in, even if it’s not an interest of my own. My children don’t have to like or love the same things that I do, but I do need to help them with their passion because my children are my passion.

Next, Hoffman talked of a “desire to learn.” He reminded the readers that despite all we know, we never know it all. He stated that if we think we have nothing left to learn, we won’t grow as we could otherwise. As a parent, each of my children need different things. What worked for my parents may or may not work for me with my own children. Things have changed and I need to be willing to change, learn and grow, for the sake of my children. I need to role model lifelong learning for them as well.

Third, he says, is the ideal of “selflessness.” We need to listen to ourselves when we talk. As coaches and educators do we talk about “I” and “me,” or do we talk of our entire group? Do we refer to our groups and those we work with? Do we use the word “we.” As coaches, this reflects a team attitude and a value in those around us. As parents, we are always putting our children first as we should.

It doesn’t mean they get whatever they want, nor does it mean that they don’t have chores or expectations, because they most definitely do and should. It is important to teach our children that they should look outward first and then inward.

They need to see themselves as part of a group, team, family or unit and be aware of how they fit and what they can do for the good of the whole while still having high self-esteem and believing that they are individuals who do matter. “Selfless” which is much different than “selfish.”

Fourth is “humility.” Can coaches, administrators and parents admit their mistakes openly and honestly? Do we expect those we work with to do so, but have a different standard for ourselves? We cannot whine, complain, blame or make excuses, especially if refuse to accept those things from others. Doing those things doesn’t fix the problems we encounter. It’s also important not just to admit to our mistakes but to openly accept them, own them, and then work to correct them. As a parent, I need to show my children how to say ‘sorry’ and that I can admit to my mistakes. I need to show them how I work to fix things when there is a problem and how to do so without excuses, blaming, and complaining. If I do not, then I am failing to remember that they are good imitators and I must give them good things to imitate as their role model. And once I have genuinely said “I’m sorry”, and the other person has accepted it, it needs to be over. We need to move onward, upward and forward. Dwelling only slows us down.

Lastly, Hoffman talked about “work ethic.” Are you a clock-puncher or clock-watcher? Do you do the minimum?

No one should be expected to work all the time, however, completing tasks and being flexible, while trying to achieve maximum results will help you succeed more often than just doing enough to get by.

It is also important for me as a parent to model to my children that you finish what you start and you shouldn’t wait until the last minute to prepare or study for a test.

Whether you are an athlete or a musician or have another passion, if you don’t put in the extra time and effort, you will only get minimum results.

As an athlete, we talk about being the first one to the gym and the last to leave, instead of the other way around. When I took piano lessons, I must admit that I only did the minimum amount I could to practice and that’s why I am not a great piano player today -- something I now regret.

I really enjoyed this article. It definitely made me re-evaluate those qualities that I deem important in both my work and my home, personally and professionally, with colleagues and my own children. I hope you are able to self-reflect upon these traits as you strive to be great in your relationships with others, both at work and at home.


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