Imagine yourself putting on that Misfit , BC or Vortex jersey for the first time. That Furious George or Traffic jersey for the first time. That Team Canada jersey. All the sprints and hours grimacing while you roll your IT bands and quads, all the days when you lack feeling in your hands for hours because you choose to throw in the pouring rain, all the early mornings to play indoor and workout: They will be worth it. We promise you. And we want to help you get there perhaps with a counter intuitive strategy.
I started my coaching career at Roman Tulis Soccer School of Excellence as an Assistant Coach when I was 15. I was responsible for setting up the field before practice, designing and leading warm-ups, and giving feedback to athletes during drills. I of course did not take the job with the sole purpose of becoming a better soccer player yet I learned so much from my coaching experience that made me a better athlete and human.
Rather than hear the benefits from me however, I thought our Leaders in Training could provide a more interesting and unique perspective considering they now have some coaching experience and theoretical knowledge under their belt. Let’s dive/layout into the three reasons why coaching will help you as an athlete.
You drop an easy pass in the end zone and you feel your heart sinking into your stomach. You drop your head and tell yourself that you messed up. Meanwhile, the other team has picked up the disc and is heading towards your end zone.
“The most important thing I’ve learned from coaching so far is that mistakes aren’t the end of the world…I think coaching these kids, who get determined rather than upset after making easy mistakes, shows me the attitude I ought to have. The kids are having fun despite throwing that bad throw, despite missing that easy catch. That’s a valuable mindset these kids have: They have fun no matter what. I think it’s probably time I adopt that same attitude.”
Clayton is spot on with his analysis: The 7-9 year olds in our Elementary Academy do not think twice after throwing a bad throw. They are already thinking about the next one (or butterflies or something) with a smile on their face. If you were coaching a 7 year old and they missed a catch, would you yell at them? Remind them it was an easy catch and how they should have caught it? Of course not, so why tell yourself the same thing? Mistakes are part of the game, it’s how you recover from them that defines you as an athlete.
“As a coach, your mentality affects the team as much, if not more than the players. Going into the high school season I’ve been stepping up on my team as a leader, and my mentality is something I need to work on if I want to continue to be. Being a coach makes you a role model as the kids look up to you. Similarly, when you step up on a team, more teammates look to you as a role model and if you have a toxic attitude, it could affect how the team plays and the team chemistry.”
Anne understands how vital the coach’s mindset is going into a practice. Coaching forces you to put aside your troubles and negative personal thoughts to run a successful and positive practice for the team, and this is exactly what you need to do to play your best game as an athlete.
One note, leadership doesn’t always mean the coach or the outspoken player barking orders and yelling “push yourself!!” Leadership can look like many different things including leading by example quietly with your effort, not your words.
Trust in Your Coach
When you become a coach, all you’ll ever truly desire is for the athlete (s) to be the best they can be, both mentally and physically. “As a result, as a player, I’ve learned to take criticism more to heart. I understand that they’re not trying to belittle you, but showing that you could be so much better with these slight adjustments.”
This all comes down to trust and team-culture, something Nicholas seems to understand. Translating this to you as an athlete, if you truly trust your teammates and coaches, feedback won’t be criticism, not being put on the O-line won’t be taken personally. Once you start to adopt this mindset, you’ll be free from distractions and you can focus on what really matters: your throws, your defence, your check, and your effort.
So what are you waiting for? Ask your coach if you can help coach the Junior team. Take on a leadership role on your team (this doesn’t mean ask the coach to be captain). At the very least, you can read up on some coaching articles or watch some Ted Talks. If you want to be the best player you can be, then you’ll do whatever it takes, right? Now get coaching!