Leadership Early in the Season


I am always amazed how quickly parents, and therefore their kid can change after one tournament or game.  As a coach we go from being the second coming of John Wooden until we don’t play little Suzie as much as the parent thought she should have played.  When I am faced with this situation and the player actually talks to me about her play time I ask the question.  “Who should you have played in front of”, this question goes to the heart of the matter.  I want them to take a look at their teammates and based on their thoughts, they have to tell me who they think they are better than.  See my belief is that athletes, especially female athletes, are pretty honest.  They know in their hearts if they should play or not.  Most of the time it is the parent projecting that they want their kid out there playing not the player.

Let us for a moment pretend that the coach is wrong and the kid should have played more innings than she actually played?  It is the first tournament, parents, wait and see if the coach feels like the player should play more, and if so it will show in the next tournament, or the following one.  What if the coach is wrong, but the play time remains the same for the next few tournaments?  In today’s world of competitive youth sports, parents are afraid of letting their student athlete deal with adversity, learn how to work hard and through it, and live with the results knowing that she did all she could.  Because that’s how life is.

We as coaches, should be coaching for one purpose, and that is to help empower and develop our student athletes to possess life skills, leadership skills which are learned sometimes more effective when the student athlete is challenged with play time.

Preparing young people for a healthy and successful future has taken on many new and complex dimensions, and the trend is likely to continue. Success in today’s competitive environment requires that young people develop their personal leadership skills. Leadership is essential in enabling youth to develop character, confidence, and values that promote the goal of healthy behavior.

Leadership is essential in enabling youth to develop character, confidence, and values that promote the goal of healthy behavior. Research shows a majority of American youth engages in health compromising behavior and concludes that half of all ten to seventeen year olds are at high or moderate risk of undermining their chances for a healthy life because of substance abuse, unsafe sex, teen pregnancy, school failure and delinquency, and crime or violence. More importantly, a recent report from the American Medical Association captures the importance of this goal: “For the first time in the history of this country, young people are less healthy and less prepared to take their places in society than their parents. Moreover, this is happening at a time when our society is more complex, more challenging, and more competitive than ever before.”

So what is the answer.  Developing personal leadership is a critical component in bringing today’s youth from athletics into society and ultimately the workforce as healthy, productive contributors.




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