And You Call Yourself “Coach”?

This post is not an easy one to write. I’m an avid supporter of the National Coaching Certification Programme in Canada! I believe this programme comes as close to producing coaches who are knowledgeable, dedicated, forward thinking and caring as any in the entire world. But, nothing’s perfect. Some coaches who get certified somewhere along the line, lose sight of their role with athletes, especially young athletes.

The impetus for this post comes from two long distance situations where coaches sought my thoughts on respective scenarios into which they had been drawn and in both cases, the less than savory environment was caused, not by athletes making poor decisions, but by certified coaches. In both cases my initial and sustained reaction was that both coaches should be removed from working with young athletes in our sport until they realize, accept and exhibit the charateristics of someone charged with working with impressionable young athletes!

In one case the coach was blatantly unethical to the degree that the athletes in the coach’s care where taught by example that winning trumps everything else. In the other, the coach’s treatment of a segment of the team is nothing short of unconscionable. In fact in the latter case, when the details where made known to me, I was stunned by what I was hearing! I didn’t believe any coach, certified or not, could conduct him/herself in that manner.

Clearly I’m not going to go any further into either case but perhaps the NCCP needs to take a look at a process by which the “bad apples” can be thrown out of the barrel until they are worthy to be called “coach”.

I do not know the names of the two coaches to which I have referred but if they are reading this, and I suspect this post will find its way to them, do the right thing. Stop, before any more damage to the athletes is done and get help for yourself. I suggest you take a step back from working with young athletes and re-examine why you’re coaching in the first place.

I usually apologize for sounding “preachy” but I’m not in this case. If you’ve not read my articles or posts you need to know something that regular readers have heard or seen me say. “Your athletes don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” And that means caring not only about your own athletes but respecting their opponents and your fellow coaches. It also means that you care about the ethics and rules of the sport both in spirit and in letter. You appear to care much more about yourself than you do your athletes! That’s not right and cannot continue! You do not belong in the fellowship of coaches who put athletes first and see them not just as athletes but as young citizens who are part of the solution rather than part of the problem in this society.

In a recent post I stated that sports does not build character, it reveals it and that’s true of coaches too. Interestingly and disturbingly enough, in both cited cases, the coach is also the parent of an athlete on the team. Those parents will pay dearly for the lessons they are teaching to their own children. In both cases, the caring coaches who contacted me about what’s happening, are now left with cleaning up the mess and I’m helping them do that in the best way I know.

The silver lining in all of this is the rarity of these unfortunate instances. But that’s no reason to turn a blind eye. If you are a coach or a parent of an athlete who is involved in a situation in which a coach in your opinion is not guiding the athletes based upon generally accepted principles, speak up! If you can’t find receptive ears in your area, you know how to reach me!