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LovePrints. Parents should ask questions.

LovePrints is the collection on love on any one person, place, or thing. It is the accumulation of actions in love, and the resulting love from action. LovePrints is the presence of love in us, and the choice to share love with others.

Scholastic sports seasons end in June, and there is a short window before the begin in August. Some of you will meet new coaches, and some with revisit with coaches from the year before. There will be individual and team camps, solo workouts and group drills. There will be weight sessions, cardio evaluations, and film study. There is no off season. There is only improvement season.

As parents, there are questions. What I suggest is organizing your thoughts now so that when the time comes, you are prepared to ask the right questions to the right person at the right time. These are not all the questions, but they should help in determining what you need to ask your young persons coach.

Remember, each coach has a full schedule, and a voicemail and email box full of parents and players asking questions. A simple email suffices if you do not have a question the requires immediate answers. (No, what cleats should be purchased is not an immediate answer kind of deal) Also consider this: It may be your child’s dream to play in the league, but it is everyone’s dream to play in the league. The coach must answer to anywhere from 10 to 100 parents, and as you stand up for your child, there are 100 other parents standing up for theirs. Coaches love players with respectful parents. (MESSAGE!)

Here are some questions that may provide you with insight and information about the coach, the team, and the program.

Ask the coach who they are.

What does the coach need/want from you as parents?

What the most important thing?

What is the academic mission/plan?

What is the motto of the program?

Why do you coach?

How important is winning to the coach?

What is the protocol for injuries?

Who talks to the teachers and why?

Who is the trainer?

Can you have a list of the team rules?

These are just starter questions. Feel free to add your own. If you ask these questions, others will come to mind. If you don’t ask, you will find yourself asking these questions every day of the season. Ask away.

Posted in Parents
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LovePrints. Why do we coach?

Why do we coach?

In every coaching interview that I have ever given or been on, the question has come up in some way or another. Why do you coach? There have been as many answers as interviews, and while some good answers are given, some bad ones are given as well. There might not be a perfect answer, but the coach should have some idea of why they want the job. They should have some idea of why they will succeed at the job. If they don’t know why they want to job, it is unlikely that they know how to be successful at it.

I can’t speak for all coaches. I won’t speak for all coaches. I know why I coach, and there are several reasons. There are some jobs that have winning games as the focus, and there are some that place character as the priority. Some coaching positions are at schools or with teams that don’t care about academics, and some that are faith based. There is a constant for me. I only seek coaching jobs where the focus is known and honored. This is important.

Coaching is love. Coaching is caring. Coaching is teaching. Coaching is support. Coaching is being present. Coaching is being prepared. For me, the first thing is important thing I need to know is why. Why do you need me? Why should I coach with/for you? Why?

I coach out of service. It is an easier space to work in if service is the top priority. I can’t coach and think of myself first. I need to be excited about building something. I need to feel like I am not really working. I need to feel like I’m adding. I need to feel like I am a part of something bigger than myself. I need to know that todays work is a part of the greater process, and that my input is a part of a greater plan. I need to consider those young people I am coaching more than I consider myself. I need to think of them first. Always.

The ability to see the greater version of people is a gift. I can see past flaws and weaknesses. Those are correctable. Those are temporary. It is a blessing to be able to see a diamond when it’s just coal. The diamond is simply waiting for a change of environment to recreate itself in its greater form. It requires pressure and friction, and it requires someone to dust it off and place it in a perfect setting to shine.

I learned long ago that when I coach from this place, everything else that can be a focus is easy. When I remember them first, I take care of the small details. I prepare better. I plan better. I adjust better. I correct better. I teach better. I applaud louder. I love stronger.

When a coaching position opens, ask what the job is. Is it winning? Ask questions. What is winning? What is acceptable standards for winning? What is success? What is the task each day?

I coach to serve. I coach to teach. I coach to remove mistakes. I coach to strengthen. I coach to learn. I coach to share. I coach to win. I coach to love.

The question is, why do you coach?

Posted in Coaching
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LovePrints. One coach. One experience. No gun.

Here goes.
A little of my experience.
I was coaching football at an unnamed High School. ( I have coached at many, so this protects anyone offended by this sharing.) In the middle of hot August two-a-day practices, 90 plus degree heat, tempers are short, and nerves frazzled. Both the coaches, training staff, and players are all exhausted from dehydration, extremely hot weather, ridiculous football conditions, and the fight for positions and placement for the upcoming season. Mind you, the regular season had not started yet, just practices and scrimmages, so we were in the early phases of things.
I believe that this was the second practice of the day. We had just returned from lunch and recovery session, and were going through some individual drills in the days afternoon practice when among the whistles blowing and pads popping, I heard a voice scream out from the other side of the bleachers. It startled me. It was not a voice that I was familiar with among coaches barking, and players chanting. The voice was an adult male. “COACH SO AND SO!” “COACH SO AND SO! WHERE ARE YOU? COME FACE ME YOU SON OF A ……..!”
There was a pause, and then the voice bellowed out again from a different place, which let me know that he was on the move towards us. “COACH! YOU HEAR ME?!! COACH SO AND SO, COME FACE ME LIKE A MAN!” The voice had cut down the distance between where it was and where we were. I was at the far end of the field, which was closest to the early bellow rather than where he was now. I saw a shadow of him, and took off in a full sprint to the place where paths needed to cross before he would face players or coaches. I wanted to be there first. I needed to be there first.
Not one part of this is heroic. In the words of the local police, I should stay away, make the call, and let them handle it. I fully understood that. Who knows if they are armed or not. They are obviously angry and moved to the point of action. Even at school, it would take a while for them to get there. So I sprinted to where he was. I never looked back.
I got to the man behind the voice. He was the father of one of the players. We kind of knew one another, but were not friends. I asked him what was going on. He said that he had issue with the head coach and how his son was being treated and slotted for playing time. (Again, we are in summer practice, and slots were not assigned yet, and certainly, this was NOT the way to handle this. Approaching a coach about playing time is a big time no no. Approaching a coach during practice, with other players around, in public, another big no no.
I explained that this was not the way to handle this. But my inner dog barked that nothing was going on without going through me. Talk to me. Talk to me, so that it just remains talking. We do not want to do more than talk. Trust me. He barked a little more and then settled into an angry rage rather than an erupting volcano. Yes, being a big dude provided some buffer. I used it.
The head coach showed up after I did. At that point, things were in discussion mode, and they went off to talk about all of it. I looked around, and noticed something. Me and the head coach were the only ones that came running. Yes, my two buddies on the staff had their eyes on my back in case I needed them, but of the 10 or so coaches, only 2 were at the stand off point. I kind of chuckled. These were football coaches. Maybe they simply wanted no part of the confrontation. Maybe they chose to stay away. Or as my two buddies told me, “We heard him bark, and before we could react, you were already in full sprint. We knew it was going to be good. ” I also know and trust that if something popped off, they had my back. No doubt. The three of us chuckled about it. Insanity. Who shows up at practice and challenges a coach?!!”
Real talk. This could have gone horribly wrong. I am thankful that God has his hands on me. The head coach said he was impressed that I reacted and rallied as I did. He also noticed who did not. So did the players on the team. The KNEW.
This is not an uncommon occurrence. Adults misbehaving, parents flying off the handle, players being emotional. It happens often. Calm heads and big hearts can often solve the problems. Often, insanity ad chaos happens. There are mountains of videos of parents fighting, referees fighting, coaches fighting, players and fans fighting. To add to that with an expectation that teachers and coaches are in control of their emotions and faculties is a reach. It only takes one adult to cause havoc. It only takes one to set hundreds of angry reactions in place. And here is this, not everyone is there to thwart nonsense. It is not what they signed up for. Its not why they are there.
I am not a stand around guy. I get that. But, I am also not an escalator either. I made a horrible mistake. I was lucky and did not pay. I did not know why he was there, nor did I know his intentions. I simply reacted. Most did not. I don’t blame them. I just know that in every case where this happens, there are those mouthy folks who say they will react, and don’t. They cant. Actions are greater than words. They require more.
Lets not add weapons to the equation. Lets add love to it. Lets add common sense. Not everyone is built for it. Not everyone cares enough to react to it in love.
Posted in Weekly LovePrints
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LovePrints. If you love the game, action in love.

If you love the sport, treat it right.

Love it out loud.

Love. The bible defines it as such:

 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Love. Webster’s defines it as such:

Strong affection for another arising out of kinship or personal ties.

 

Affection based on admiration, benevolence, or common interests. 

 

Warm. Attachment, enthusiasm, or devotion.

 

The object of attachment, devotion, or admiration.

 

Unselfish loyal and benevolent.

As coaches, players, and parents, and fans, we all speak of love for the games. Love. If in speaking of the games, we remember this, we will all speak more love into the game. If we do so together, out loud, the games will always be elevated.

As coaches, if we are patient, kind, unselfish, warm, devoted, and protective, we are truly acting in love of the game and the people in it. Coaches who understand the real reason they are in this charge can do amazing good in their position. It is a labor of love indeed, and if the love is the first thing and the last thing, good will come from it. Good will come with it. Leave the anger outside the game. Coach the evil away. Delight in the good in it. Let good persevere. Let the truth be said. Let the truth be known.

If we honor the trust put in the position, the lives that will be bettered from them, and the love that will be shared and spread can only make the game more than it was. Patience is in the teaching of skills, the improvement of person, and the lifting of spirits after a stumble. Kindness is in the understanding that trials come with battles, and there is a need for compassion and consideration when they do. Warmth is the invitation to truth, and enhances the connection between coach and community, coach and parent, coach and athlete. Devotion is the simplest idea of doing what is right before, during, and after the game itself. Preparation, planning, commitment, and path are all tied to this one thing. Love the game enough to prepare for it, even when time is short, energy is low, and the negative is loud. Be protective of the game itself, but be protective of your players more than that. Never choose the game over the young person. Protect their bodies, their spirit, their future, their hearts, and their lives. Do so loudly, constantly, and consistently. Be protective of the truth. Be protective of why we are all in this. Love. Love in action. Action in love.

As parents, the task of handing your most prized possessions over to anyone is daunting. Hold love as the mirror and measuring stick to everything in and about the game. Make sure that everyone in the game is being loving. Hold the mirror to yourselves as you watch, cheer, and enjoy. Make sure that your words and actions say one thing. Love. Make sure that the athlete is loving themselves as they play, and that everyone else is as well. Hold your athlete to standards of love, and demand that they are patient, kind, warm devoted, and protective. Keep their character and integrity in the front of all things, and make sure that they know that you are watching and loving. Help them prepare for the games, help them be devoted to the task, and keep them on the path to admirable and strength. That is your task. That is love.

Athletes like to say that Ball Is Life. I amend that. Love is Life. If you live for the game, you better love it, and you better love it properly. Love the game enough to honor it. Love the game enough to prepare for it in its greatest form, and yours. Love the game enough to make it better when you are done with it, and more importantly, it with you. The ball stops bouncing for us all one day, and we should all strive to say that when that day comes, we gave it everything, especially love. Be patient, athletes all. The game is everywhere, and everything. It can take you good places, or bad. It can make you better, or worse. It can make you stronger, or weaker. It can make you loving, or hateful. If you love it, it will love you back. The game can only love you as you love it. This statement is undefeated. Give to it what you want from it. Do so with patience as the game does not give you anything right away. It demands that you take time, grow, fall, get up, fail, succeed, and repeat. Those athletes that love it enough to patiently continue the process, reap the benefit of the process. Devotion is trusting the process. Love is in the fall. Love is in the sweat. Love is in the effort. Love is in the sacrifice. Love is in the repetition. Love is in the constant. Love is in the game, the practice, the preparation, and the victory. Love is the ultimate victory.

Love the game. The game wants to love you. Let it.

Go.

Love.

Posted in Weekly LovePrints
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LovePrints – The Line. Conditioning.

Great lines make great coaches. Great coaches make great lines.

Love Out Loud.

  1. THE. LINE.

As a player, as a coach there are certain inevitable things. Some are good, some are dreaded, and all of them have purpose. All of them belong. All of them send us forward with something stronger and better than what we had before it. There are often constants in sports, and conditioning is one of them. It is never pleasing, often painful, and always the truth. It is also where winners show up, acknowledge, and crown themselves. It is where the line is drawn.

As any of my teammates, and any of my players, wind sprints are going to happen. They are going to happen. They are going to happen. Sometimes, they are masked as kickoff drills. Sometimes, they are masked as baserunning drills. Sometimes, they are masked as transition drills.  They can include oars and shells held over head, They can include stairs, hallways, gymnasiums, tracks, and mud. They might be. But sometimes, they are not masked at all. They are simply conditioning. They are lung busting, leg dragging, tongue wagging, stomach upsetting, sweat puddle inducing, cramps in the side reminders of why game days are fun.

It does not matter what sport it is, what age group it is, or what gender. Conditioning must be done. It serves as the measuring stick for readiness, preparation and commitment. If a coach wants to know how much this sport matters to his players, he can look on day one of tryouts or practice to see who has put in the work. Coaches know who is in shape, who isn’t, and how much work it will take to get everyone on the same level.

Parents often miss this part of coaching. When the players show up on day one, they may or may not have an idea of how much work their young one has put in. More importantly, they may or may not know how much work the OTHER young people put in. They may believe that their athlete has worked hard, but have they worked as hard as the athletes they are competing with? Have they worked as hard as they could? Have they worked as hard as the athletes they are competing against? That is the line.

As players, if they do not know how much is enough, they need to ask. They need to know. What they think is enough may be enough for beginners. Or average. Or good. It may not be great. It may not be their best. That is the line.

How conditioning is done varies from climate to climate, coach to coach, and program to program. Recent awareness has asked, begged even, that conditioning be done as a part of the skill training rather than as punishment. It should be done as a part of the practice plan, a part of the improvement session, a part of the warm up and cool down. It needs to be ambitious, motivating, and sensible. It also needs to be the standard. It needs to be the line. And that line needs to be new and moved daily. That is the purpose of the line.

It is the sound that makes skin crawl, smiles disappear, sweat appears, and deep breaths happen. It is the beginning bell or the final whistle. It is the most feared sound of any practice session, and it is also the signal that we must come together and get better.

It is also the gatekeeper, the babysitter, and the constant reminder. It is the dog at the fence, it is the alarm on the door, and it is the latch on the window. It keeps order, and creates unity.

I am sure that anyone that has played for me will wince at the final sentence of this piece. It means that it is time to be measured. It is time to improve. It is time to grow. It is time to prepare for the final out, the final quarter, the last drive, the final lap, the last jump, the big shot, the next base, and the huge play. It is the line.

ON THE LINE! ON THE LINE! ON THE LINE!

<whistle>

 

Posted in Giving Back
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