A coach's greatest asset is his sense of responsibility - the reliance placed on him by his players.
Sports are big business, whether it is high school, college, or professional leagues. At a young age, more children are gravitating to a single sport and playing it almost year-round through various leagues. With the potential of a college scholarship from a top flight school and maybe even a lucrative professional career, the seductive power of winning can diminish the importance of sport being a mechanism for healthy character development.
Notre Dame’s Knute Rockne has the highest Division I winning percentage among coaches in college football history. In the 1940 film Knute Rockne, All American, Rockne (played by Pat O’Brien) explained his purpose in being a coach. He said it was about teaching young men the importance of hard work, self-sacrifice and the humility found in effective teams. He indicated he wouldn’t know if he was successful for 10 to 15 years following a player’s graduation to see if he had become an honorable and responsible member of his community.
V.J. Stanley Jr., the former University of Rochester hockey coach, has written two books (Stop the Tsunami in Youth Sports and Less is More) on the risks and lost opportunity that exist when the ends justify the means and the gift of the journey of team participation is lost. Stanley makes the case that the pressure put on children to win overshadows the importance of participation and having fun. Rockne was famous for saying, “I don’t play my best 11, I play my 11 best,” stressing the importance of the togetherness of team over the glorification in individual talent.
I’ve witnessed many businesses fail when a highly talented CEO is removed and the lack of an effective team cannot maintain the business. It is likely the single biggest risk for successful entrepreneurs that the business becomes “who they are,” not “what they do.”
I coached youth basketball, sixth-graders, and recognized how impactful a coach can be with young people. Our team’s winning formula was “teamwork + discipline = success.” At the end of the season, one of the boys asked me why I didn’t talk about winning, after finishing the season with a string of consecutive wins. I explained to him, I can’t coach “winning,” but if we work together I can coach “becoming” the best person you can be.
Leaders in business, like coaches in sports, have a solemn responsibility to their employees and players in making them the best person they can be and resist the temptation of using them as an instrument of their own desires.
So let’s get to work.
This analyzation also explains why playing one sport year round is unhealthy. You play your best when you are fresh and healthy. When you drag yourself to countless games and practices, your brain accepts that this is the way to do it and your play suffers. You keep seeing more playing time for the more talented players and less playing time for the bench players. This not only splits the players into the haves and have nots, but it also makes it very difficult to improve as a team. It is impossible to maintain that high level of athletic accomplishment year round because your body will eventually wear down. Your brain is telling you to take a break, but you play through it. Most of the repetitions in practice then come from a new base that is unproductive. However, that is the memory reservoir that you are building up and it is easily transferred into how you play a game.
Pre Hab. We did it every day when I coached in college. We had fewest injuries in our league 20 out of 21 years I was the head coach. Took whole first year to change the culture. If you left practice or game with injury you had to have a doctor’s note to return. No exceptions. We did what is now called dynamic stretching every day. And REST. We gave our players every Monday off and NEVER practiced on ice day after the game. There is a big mental part to this. Create an environment where they miss the rink. I encouraged our guys to play another sport. When they went home in the summer they had to rest for 2 months no hockey. Then, only 3 weeks to play and they had to play a different position.Contact us. We will show your team and orgainzation how to do this for your sport! Healthy athletes and teams play better!