Character Building Coach #1- Focus on Character

Focus on Character

This will be the first in a series of articles expanding on our tip sheet:  Seven Characteristics of a Character-Building Coach.

Great coaches demand their athletes place values such as hard work, poise, teamwork, and leadership above victory. Define the values that matter most and hold your players accountable to them.

Coaches have an incredible opportunity to transform the lives of young men and women and leave a lasting impression that will help shape morals and work ethic for life.

In the public’s view, wins and losses typically define who coaches are and their level of success.

Success is not typically defined by how many kids graduate, how many go on to college, how many are saved from street life, how many make the honor roll or how many do community service and give back.

Unfortunately, these intangibles are often overlooked by both the public and by coaches when in the heat of competition. Coaches sometimes forget what their true role is: Mentor.

In all sports, there are a small percentage of “elite” players or teams while there are thousands of participants that play for the enjoyment of the game.

From the NCAA Website[1]:

“About 2 percent of high school athletes are awarded athletics scholarships to compete in college…Academic, not athletic, achievement is the most reliable path to success in life.”

Winning is great, but it’s not everything.  Only 50% of games are actually won—remember, there is always losing team.  By focusing on the athlete as a well rounded person and teaching them the steps to achieve success—everyone wins.

Take yourself back to when you first started playing sports.  Do you remember your team’s record from your first year of youth soccer?  Probably not and neither do most kids.  What we do remember are the experiences and camaraderie of both teammates, many who still may be your friend, and the coaches who made your first experience with sport memorable.

Whether at the high school, collegiate or youth level, the goal of coaches is to build confidence and instill some basic character traits that can be used throughout life. Athletics will come to an end for everyone at some point and coaches must prepare athletes for life outside of athletic competition.

Traits coaches can reinforce daily

  • Citizenship: Respecting the law and actively be involved in service to school, community and family.
  • Self-discipline: Setting goals and staying on task–demonstrating hard work controlling emotions, words, actions, impulses and desires. Giving your best in all situations.
  • Perseverance: Accepting failure as a way to truly grow as a person and athlete knowing that small actions taken each day will results in big results over time.
  • Integrity: A firm adherence to moral or artistic values. Being honest, trustworthy and incorruptible while playing by the rules set forth.
  • Self Accountability:  Looking at oneself in the mirror and admitting mistakes and taking onus for personal actions and outcomes.  Not always pointing the finger and placing blame on others.

Coaches often times spend more time with children than parents or guardians and are truly the first responders to mold positive citizens for the future.

Coaches have a unique place in the development cycle of children and young adults and ultimately, have the power and influence to changes lives and empower communities.

Let’s go out there and focus on building athletes of character and success and winning will be byproduct of the traits we instill.


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