There are great coaches and there are terrible coaches. Yup, I said it. I brought up the negative because ALL coaches have the power to change lives. We learn great things from great coaches and we learn what NOT to do when we have bad coaches. Our destiny is shaped by the people who mentor us. We could have a wonderful coach who bridges gaps and leads us to the next level or we can have a coach who deters us from ever trying again. Either way, there are so many types of coaches that fall between great and terrible because styles and temperaments are varied as well.
I learned from the book Bounce, by Matthew Syed, that the best athletes being coached by the top coaches, will always have an edge. This is because everytime the best athletes are led by a well-experienced coach, it widens the gap between good and the very best. The book made me appreciate that although raw talent and grit are necessary traits for being a really good athlete, spending a lot of time with the best coaches is the deal breaker. To be taught by the best and supported by the best fills in the gaps between talent and determination.
My daughter doesn’t have coaches for ballet; she has instructors. However, for swimming she has coaches who inspire her to keep coming back every summer to swim her best every day. My son loves every sport and plays tennis, golf, hockey, basketball and football. Most of his coaches are fathers of the kids who participate on the same teams as my son. At this level, none of them get paid to coach but they still show up. Not just for their own kid but for everyone else. They are hoping to make a difference; hoping to get these athletes on the right path. Some of these dad coaches coach because it’s an opportunity to spend more time with their child. Some dad coaches have older kids that have “gone thru the system” so now they are giving back. Some dad coaches are living vicariously thru these young athletes, a “do-over”, hoping to prevent some from making the mistakes they made. Some of these dad coaches feed off of the energy of the youth - it makes them feel alive and it motivates them to stay young at heart. When dad coaches show up - it’s hopefully a win-win for the players and the dad.
Whether it’s a dad coach or young teenager coach, I teach my children to address all coaches by their title of “Coach”. I want my children to respect the title of “Coach” because it is an honor to be one. Even though I am older than most of my kids’ coaches, I still address them as “Coach”. We lead by example - if I don’t respect the title, why should my kids? Please do me a favor. If you haven’t addressed a coach as “Coach”, please start. Maybe, just maybe, when a coach hears that title, they will hear respect and be reminded of the responsibility that goes along with their title as they continue to shape lives.
Besides calling them “Coach”, another way to say thank you to coaches is by giving them thoughtful pinches. Even though everyone else in the country does not recognize hockey as a summer sport, we do because we live in Minnesota. And to be on two summer hockey teams is nothing out here. So as the summer hockey season is coming to an end, the parents are gathering up some thoughtful pinches to show the coaches our appreciation. Side note: This is when I wish the Thoughtful Pinch App was already in it’s later versions because we would be able to use social media privately to let everyone (except the coaches’ families ) know what we’re up to and then we could collect the money by using the app. It would have been perfect for this scenario. Of course our team is currently using the GroupMe app but if we create another GroupMe account, it would alert the coaches because they are also on the account. For now, we’re doing it the old fashion way - secretly telling and collecting. But one day the TP app will make all of this so easy!
Speaking of hockey coach gifts, I have to share a thoughtful pinch that my friend Lisa gave to her son’s coaches at the end his Winter season. Even though she prefers to give cash to coaches and teachers, Lisa also included something warm and thoughtful. Adorbs!
Last year, at the end of our summer hockey season, I took charge of the coaches’ gifts. I collected gift cards and attached them to leis. If this sounds familiar, I have made gift card leis for teachers too. I felt like these gifts were thoughtful because:
It was easy. Parents just bought a gift card for the coaches while they were in line at their favorite store or while they were eating at their favorite restaurant and then they handed the cards over to me.
There was no pressure. No set dollar amount was expected.
Everyone was in control. Parents could buy gift cards to the venues they preferred. Plus, each parent decided if they wanted to give a gift to one coach or all three.
It was a group effort. The gift cards were attached to the leis anonymously so it was truly collaborative. Even with small amounts per gift card, each contribution made one big gift.
Coaches usually don’t expect any pinches at all. They’re not in it for gifts, money or fame. Most coaches genuinely just want to see winners win. My son and the hub are watching all of the Rocky movies starting with Rocky 1 and working their way thru all eight movies (including Creed). At this point, they have finished Rocky 2 and I am dreading the part when Rocky’s coach, Mickey, dies. But since my son is so young, I am not sure if he will feel the impact of losing a coach yet. I am also not sure if he will understand the magnitude of the loss and how much he meant to Rocky. Lastly, I am not sure if my son would even give Mickey credit for Rocky’s career. However, there is something that I can tell you that I do know for sure: When that part in the movie comes, I will be bawling like a baby!