Coaching the “Inside Stuff”
Almost every single issue we deal with today is a character issue—good or bad. In today’s world we hire people for skills and then fire them for character.
The same can be said of sports. Today talent is not enough. Character and skill develop excellence. Skill without character develops mediocrity. If the skill levels of two players are equal, the player with the higher level of character will perform most consistently than the other one.
It’s time to focus on the intangibles, the “inside stuff,” which makes the difference in our players’ performance, and in their lives. In sport, our fields, courts, courses, tracks, and wrestling rooms provide an “experience” to make that difference.
Character comes from a Greek word meaning “to scratch or engrave”; “the qualities or features that make up and distinguish an individual.”
Most coaches know the importance of character but long for a game plan and practical tools to develop it in their players. Remember, sport doesn’t develop character, a coach does. Each season is an incredible opportunity to “scratch and engrave” into your players the character qualities they need to improve performance, attitude and heart.
First, we need to realize that behind every skill we are teaching there is a character quality or two that can be developed to improve the performance we are looking for.
We must begin to recognize the character quality that will help that skill. As a coach, can you articulate the change needed in character to improve the skills of the game?
Let’s take perseverance, which means to endure difficult situations to become stronger.
Now as you coach a skill like a swing, shot, serve, etc., you are looking for the player to “finish” the technique all the way through. When they don’t, your teachable moment is “You need to persevere or finish your follow through to the top.” And when they do it, pounce on them, “that a way to persevere and finish that swing! You’re a Finisher!”
And in that moment you are coaching the character needed to improve the skill. You are coaching the person to be a better player, and not just the skills of the game. It is here we are Coaching 4 Life…not just a Season.
This week think of two character qualities or CQs that you would want your players to have on and off the field or court. Look up the definitions and write them down and take it with you to practice. Then think of where it would help the skills of the sport you are coaching.
Start your practice off by sharing the CQ and its definition. Tell your players where the game demands them to demonstrate that CQ. Then recognize it, respond to it and reward it.
There is a high school coach who started to do this and focus on the “Inside Stuff” in his coaching. His next season the team went undefeated and advanced deep into the playoffs but fell one game short of the State Championship game. At the banquet a parent stood up who was very thankful and said to the coaching staff, “We gave you 48 boys and you gave us back 48 young men”.
The tears began to run down the faces of the coaches and even parents. Coaches realized that they were part of transforming lives through sports. Their coaching now has moved way beyond the X’s and O’s. For this head coach, it was one of the greatest compliments he has ever received. This coach and his staff realized there is nothing like coaching the “Inside Stuff.”
For more information on how to coach this way and practical tools to make character development a reality in your sport, go to www.coaching4life.us or email firstname.lastname@example.org
– Wade Salem is the Founder of Coaching 4 Life and Author of C4L Character Quality Curriculums. He comes from a coaching family and has worked for over a decade with hundreds of coaches and teams from schools, colleges, leagues, sports facilities and pro camps. From playing, coaching and consulting, Wade brings a unique insight and clarity to coaching character. An exceptional leader, speaker, author and motivator, Wade is dedicated to equipping coaches to develop the “Complete Player.” He currently lives in Surprise, AZ with his beautiful wife Jamie and their children Jordan, Breanna, and Christian.