Coaching Education content provided by the NSCAA
You've Got to Walk the Walk
As a role model for their players, coaches must do more than just talk the talk
by Lawrence Fine
A few years ago, Charles Barkley of the NBA insisted that, as an athlete, he was not a role model. His statement was meant to convey the message to young people that there are more worthy role models to emulate, such as their parents and others in their community. Taken at face value, though, Barkley's words were seen as a failure or unwillingness on his part to accept the responsibility that athletic success brought.
As coaches, especially at the younger age levels, we assume the responsibility of being a role model each day. There comes a point where coaches have to realize that it's not good enough to simply say something. Instead, we have to assume the responsibility of being a role model for our players as well.
How can a coach expect his or her players to be on time for practices, games or other team activities when the coach shows up late? How can a coach expect his or her players to treat officials with respect if he or she constantly screams at the referee? How can a coach expect a team to take an opponent seriously when, through actions or words, he or she doesn't?
To be taken seriously, a coach has to be willing to set the example. This does not mean the coach has to be able to shoot perfectly or run two miles in less than 12 minutes. However, if players see their coach trying to do some of the things they are being asked to do, that coach can earn a great deal of credibility in the players' eyes. Again, this doesn't mean the coach has to be participating in the actual exercises, but it is easier for a coach to ask
players to get in shape if they can see that the coach is making an effort to maintain or improve his or her own fitness level. Not all coaches are able to stay in shape for various medical reasons, but those who do make their jobs much easier through positive role modeling.
As coaches, we have to realize that there is more to athletics than winning and losing. We have to take some responsibility for helping to instill values and morals in those we coach. The first step is to live by these values and morals ourselves. Once coaches have set a good example, they can ask their players to follow their lead. Anyone can talk the talk, but it's a true leader who walks the walk.
Lawrence Fine produces FineSoccer.com, an online resource for a variety of tips, ideas and newsletters related to soccer coaching. A member of the NSCAA Website Development Committee, Fine also serves as volunteer assistant coach for an NCAA Division I men's team.
Reprinted from NSCAA.com's Coaching Tips section.