Effectively Coaching by Example
When coaching at any level, leading by example is one of the biggest positives a coach can bring to the table. It usually comes easy to most coaches, as they set the tone for their programs by setting standards on energy, work ethic and preparedness.
When the going gets tough however– the really, truly great coaches shine through as examples for their players to follow; both in life, and in sports.
Steve Mariucci, a former head coach in the NFL and Division I in the NCAA– spoke about the importance of a coach and/or parent remaining a positive example even when the tough times start to roll in, during the video below from the Positive Coaching Alliance.
“You know, we all go through tough times, challenging times. Whether it’s on the field, in a slump, whether it’s at home, whether it’s at school, personal life, we all go through some tough times.”
As many successful coaches before and after him have established, teams, player, coaches, everyone will face challenges at some time or another.
It is often said that how someone responds to adversity shows you all you need to know about that person.
In coaching, this is no different. Players will turn to you for guidance when things aren’t going as planned, and how you respond will leave a large and important impression on them. The way Mariucci sees it, parents and coaches reacting in tough times will be the way their children/players will begin to handle these situations in their own lives.
“How we act or react in those times, I think some of that is learned behavior. I think that some of it is watching our parents, because they go through some tough times– that our kids will learn. I think some of it is learned from our coaches, who happen to go through some tough times with losses and injuries, or whatever that is.”
Joe Girardi, the former manager of the New York Yankees, and one of the more successful skippers of the last two decades in the MLB once spoke to the Harvard Business Review and told them how he saw the importance of leading the way for his teams.
“You have to lead by example. You ask your players to be prepared mentally and physically, so you have to be prepared,” Girardi said.
“So I think we have to be mindful that when it’s a tough time, you go through it with your chin up, and your chest out and do it the best way you can, because those little eyes are upon you. And they are learning how to handle tough times,” Marucci says. “There are lessons to be learned about going through these things, and I think if the coach demonstrates the right way of attacking, coming out of those times, the players will benefit.”
You are the person your team will learn from. It’s not just about the fundamentals or physical skills of the game that are transferable as a coach– you’re also passing along something equally as important: the mental and emotional approach to all the different aspects of the game.
Sometimes, this also transfers to real-life situations. You never know how your actions and behavior in tough moments will rub off on the players on your team, so be sure to handle these tough times with as much grace and level-headedness as possible.