Coaching Methods Can Make Or Break Athletes

Alyssa Blair, Editor-In-Chief

During the season, student athletes, will likely see their teammates and coaches more than their parents and siblings on some days. This is one of many reason why teams become so close. An integral part of a team, as well, is the team’s coaches. Spending this much time together creates a unique bond between coaches and athletes. Coaches can become confidantes, mentors, role models, and so much more to these athletes than just a coach, and they need to remember how much weight their roles bear in the eyes of their athletes.

One of the central goals of most athletes is winning and wanting to be the best. They work long hours conditioning their bodies and minds to maximize winning potential, but there’s only so much room at the top. Out of nearly 8 million high school student athletes in the US, only about 7% go on to play a varsity sport in college according to the National College Athletics Association. So why do so many student athletes play sports? The answer is more complicated than it might seem.

Athletics teach and introduce young people to values and morals. These lessons they learn will stick with them long after their sports careers’ end. Sports teach determination and the value of perseverance. It also teaches the idea of self-discipline and holding oneself responsible for going through on a commitment. Finally, it can teach things like patience and the ability to move on when the outcome of a situation is not what you wanted or hoped for. In short, sports teach a lot more than just conditioning and how to win.

So what happens when coaches fail to acknowledge the profound effect sports can have on life, and instead choose to only focus on winning? There are consequences, and more often than not, it’s the athlete that suffers. Only focusing on the winning side of sports teaches athletes that their self-worth and value lies in their ability to succeed. Rating their self-worth based on this system can have effects on the athlete. It can create negative self-image, feelings of anxiety and depression, and even make an athlete hate the sport they once loved. It can also affect performance in the sport, instead of promoting celebration for the small victories on the journey to get to the big goals. In team sports, these feelings can be manifested into inner-team conflict and competition. A coach with misguided values could ruin the season for their athletes.

All of this can be avoided if coaches that apply these ideologies remember who they are trying to coach. Most of the youth they’re coaching aren’t training to be major league and professional players who are willing to sacrifice everything for their sports. They’re people who are growing emotionally and have other outside factors that can sometimes affect their ability to only play to win, like stress from school, relationships, and plenty of other places. Under the tutelage of the correct coach, practices and sports activities could even provide a place to reduce the effects of these stressors. Sports for high school students can be fun when everything else in their lives feels like pressures.

If coaches can remember there’s more to sports than just victories, their athletes will be better off. The coaches that do remember this philosophy create people that are not only good athletes but also good people.  They can achieve goals successfully, appreciate the journey, and celebrate the small victories.