Great coaches hope their players transfer positive personal attributes from sports into
other areas of life. However, this process does not occur on its own. Through demonstration, modeling and practice, coaches can help athletes carry important life skills into other settings. Here are several practical suggestions from the NABC, along with some personal examples:
- Consistently reinforce your philosophy through a keyword or phrase.
In our program at Bob Jones University, we attempt to develop mental toughness in our players. We commonly discuss the importance of remaining confident and consistent despite uncontrollable circumstances or players’ play. During a game, there is no time to repeat that conversation. Instead, we simply say to a player, “Strong face.” That simple phrase encompasses the concept previously discussed with the player.
- Encourage players to use skills (academic and leadership skills) outside athletics.
As a Christian school, our primary goal is to develop the spiritual side of student-athletes. Our basketball program’s motto is “Live Christ.” On a regular basis, whether in practice or during a game, we remind players that our ultimate desire is for them to take the skills learned through basketball and use those skills in their interactions with peers, family, and friends.
- Model the core values of your coaching philosophy.
Players imitate behaviors displayed by their coaches. If coaches want their players to display respect, integrity, and fair play, then they themselves must display those characteristics.
- Suggest to athletes that they participate in volunteer work.
Our players are encouraged to volunteer in the community, local high schools, and churches. Taking part in such opportunities allows athletes to display their leadership and teamwork skills outside of the sports domain.