These are uncertain times for all of us. What our student athletes need most right now is reassurance from their coaches that things are going to be alright. Good coaches know that the most meaningful part of our jobs is helping these young men and women make good choices and develop the skills to be successful not only in sports, but in life. Our athletes look to us for guidance and wisdom. Now is not the time to sit back. Now is the time to step up and coach your kids through this crisis.
Connect with your athletes
A lot of the kids are feeling isolated right now. Send a quick email or text and let them know you care. It means a lot. You’d be surprised at the lengthy responses that simple question will generate.
Focus on team culture
Social distancing goes against the very nature of adolescent development. Kids need to make connections with each other to develop important social skills and feel a sense of belonging. You can help them right now by organizing activities that bring teammates together.
We recently held a round table discussion on Google Meet with our track captains and posted it to YouTube. We covered topics including schoolwork, isolation, motivation, and training. We even shared some laughs.
Another easy thing to leverage is social media. For example, our Instagram account has been attracting more followers and getting a lot more activity since we asked kids to submit post workout photos and give each other kudos. The fact that we’re picking up students that don’t even participate in track and field is evidence of how much kids want to connect right now.
Coaches across the country are sidelined right now. Not just high school level coaches, collegiate and professional coaches as well. Many of them are staying busy and making a positive contribution by hosting free seminars and collaborating via Twitter, Zoom and other easy to use formats.
In New Hampshire, the Athletic Director’s Association has developed a special site for virtual learning. There are many free resources for students and coaches available and the list is growing daily. Now is not the time to lean back.
Take some time to read. I’ve been loading up on Daniels and McMillan for running. I also just finished Coach to Coach, by Martin Looney. It’s a centered around a fictional college football coach and the lessons he learns from an old timer. Through story, it reinforces the most important parts of coaching, relationships and character.
Share your expertise
Give away a few secrets. Share your training plans for athletes that might be feeling a bit lost right now. Offer to share your expertise on something with another program. Put together podcasts, slideshows, or start that team blog you’ve been talking about for years. Generosity is going to help us get through this period of isolation. We can be #TogetherApart
Your athletes get their queues from you, their coach. If you exude confidence and a positive outlook on things, they are likely to do the same. As coaches we are role models. We have a responsibility to our student athletes to promote an environment of caring, compassion and good character. Good luck out there.
Please leave your comments or suggestions.