Monday, October 1, 2012

Coaches - You are building the workplace team of tomorrow

Growing up, I participated in lots of sports, both formal and informal.  Basketball was my game, but many other sports were in the mix as well.  During those years I had many coaches and was lucky enough to have some very good ones. Those coaches helped shape how I think about teams in my work life today.

I have been a youth soccer and basketball coach for over 15 years.  During that time I have coached all age groups from six year olds up through those high school age.  Some teams were introductory and instructional while others were highly competitive.  Sometimes I had a kid on the team, sometimes I did not.
For me, it never mattered the age or skill level I was coaching, the message was always the same.  On the first day of practice I would get all the parents together to set expectations.  I would explain that we are building life skills for these kids.  We are not creating the next generation of national team players, division 1 athletes, Olympians, or professionals.  If your expectations are different, you have found the wrong team.  For the record, no parent or player left as a result of this proclamation.

Every day in some aspect of our life we work as part of the team.  To be a good member of a team requires skills that don't necessarily come naturally to everyone.  The discipline required for the preparation, training, and competition as part of a team is no different at its core whether it is soccer, band, volunteering at the local soup kitchen, or doing your job.
As coaches we have the responsibility to put the pieces together in the most effective way and to provide the environment that allows for success.  We must leverage the strengths and improve upon the weaknesses of each member so as to allow them to be a success.  The kids that have great team experiences will be more likely to be highly functional team members for the rest of their lives.  Nobody is going to remember the score of the pee-wee football game 10 years from now but they will remember the team they played on, the commitment required, the hard work, and the experiences they had. 

Coaches and parents alike play a big role in shaping the corporate citizens of tomorrow.  So, the next time you are freaking out on the sideline (coaches) or in the stands (parents) during that next U-10 soccer match, remember what is really happening.  It isn't the wins and losses so much as it is the experiences and life skills acquired during the journey of being part of the team.  Help to make it memorable in a positive way.

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