I've been coaching and developing young athletes for about 4 years now; I'm primarily working with kids aged 5-9 and I absolutely love it. In fact, I never imagined being able to love it the way I do now as I'm still hanging on to my glory days with a Kung Fu grip (ask my friends, I won't let go)—but truly, I love it.
I'd like to think I've developed my coaching style entirely on my own, but I've had so many mentors as coaches, I catch myself passing their message across with my voice at times. Not ground breaking when I hear myself think or translate it to the kids but what is "aha" for me is the why.
A specific event happened a few weeks ago that took me until now to realize the deeper beauty in the message I shared with the kids, and I now want to share it with you as a parent, coach or player.
Our team had just finished a game, and the unwritten rule in the locker room is as follows:
Game ends > Get in the room > Take off helmets and gloves > sit quietly and wait for the coaches to speak.
You do not dare sneak an elbow pad off, or quietly undo some sock tape while Coach is talking. I mean, how disrespectful right?—And it is. The coaching staff is volunteering their time to pass on some important lessons about what happened out there, and if he or she is a great coach, some life lessons that might change your life some day. Sh**, they might even make their way to a blog some day.
Here's the kicker, and the alternate twist to my thinking. So there I was in the middle of the room, giving it my best post-game, and I heard the nasty sound of sneaky sock tape coming off while I was talking. I turned to the player (He's a beauty) and said "Dude, what is your hurry to get out of here!? Homework? Reading before bed? The -40 snowstorm?"
"If you truly love being an athlete, there is no better place on earth than where you are sitting right now–The Locker Room."
Do not hurry out of the locker room. I've played thousands of games, been to hundreds of tournaments—and I could not, for the life of me tell you which ones we won, lost, how many goals I scored (maybe my dad could, Hi Dad)...
I will always remember the highs in the locker room.
The lows in the locker room.
The tears in the locker room.
The laughs in the locker room.
Players, leave the sock tape on while coach is talking.
Parents, grab a coffee and give them a little extra time.