This could apply both at home with your own children and certainly with your kids on your team. As you prepare for the opening of your season, remember that beyond the X’s and O’s there are important life lessons that you as a coach impart upon the people who work for you. Whether you want to or not, some of you (your character… your personality) is going to rub off on your players. I remember hearing a Child Psychologist once say: “Values are caught… not taught.” Your players are watching you. So be a positive influence by giving them these 4 things:
1- Instruction. Not only in the fundamentals of football but in the “game of life” as well. Take time at the end of each practice to comment on life. Impart instruction on how they should live their lives. You have a tremendous influence on your players. If you’re not talking about subjects like the importance of grades, staying away from drugs and alcohol, running with the right crew, etc., you are doing your players a disservice. Teach them! You have a responsibility to instill character and convictions in your kids.
I have recently contacted a bunch of my former players on one of those social websites. Several of them have written back and said basically the same thing: “Thank you, Coach J., for teaching us that the man who works the hardest is going to achieve the greatest things.” They’re listening guys… speak the truth!
2- Correction. It is true: kids want boundaries. Children who know how far they can go are relieved of a great burden. Knowing that your authority will stand gives them security. When they learn that “no” really means NO, they’ll be able to say it (“No!”) to others and to their own impulses.
3- Blessing. In Old Testament times, parents laid hands on their children because they believed that the blessing of God was transferable. You can bless your own kids and your players by letting them know how important they are to you. Letting an individual player know how much you appreciate his dedication can really impact that boy. I liked to tell our players that “you remind me of ______”. We had a winning tradition at our school and the current players knew about the older ones. Why? cuz I told stories about them to later teams. The blessing was passed on to the next generation of players. They wanted to live up to what the former teams/players had accomplished.
4- Example. A great preacher once looked in the crib of his infant son and prayed: “Lord Jesus, if ever You made a man, make me one now. Let my life, my example and my prayers mold this little fellow into someone You can use. And, Lord, let me die 24 hours before I say or do anything that would cause him to stumble.” Will you pray that prayer?!