Coaches Blog

Sam's Blog is a bi-weekly addition to the US Youth Soccer Blog. Sam Snow is the Coaching Director for US Youth Soccer.

 

What Makes A Great Coach - Part Two

Sam Snow

In my last blog you read bullet points from several coaches on the qualities of a good coach.  Here’s a more in-depth piece from Coach Steve Davis, Technical Director for the New York Rush.

A great coach never stops searching for more pieces to add to the jigsaw that makes them who they are. The picture on the box should be constantly changing to allow for growth. Players have been very influential in my development as a coach. Listening to them is without a doubt one of the best educational tools a coach will ever have access to. Their honesty is unparalleled.

In 2010, a friend handed me something he had received during a volleyball convention he attended, and it was written by Anson Dorrance. The piece he handed me was Anson's thoughts on what coaching is. I remember taking it from him and walking into my office thinking about what coaching meant to me. It's one thing to read what it means to one of the most influential figures in women's soccer, but let's be honest, we don't all work with the players he does, we don't get to recruit from the very best the country has to offer, and we definitely don't all have the facilities and resources that are available at UNC. And, I don't think I'll be winning a World Cup anytime soon. However, should that really make a difference? Surely coaching is coaching no matter the sport, no matter the age or level of athlete right? If coaching is about character and integrity, then it doesn't matter if you're working with a fifth grade team or UNC. What matters is how well you understand your athletes, the complexities of the sport, and the steps that need to be taken to challenge and improve each individual in order to build the team.

I decided to write my thoughts on what coaching is, and below is what I wrote:

"Coaching is... breathing life into what you do. Taking the time to develop and assemble a way in which you can be authentic but still challenge yourself and your players. There will be days that can be emotionally draining and often take you to the edge, but it's then that you choose to keep going as only a coach can. Coaching is for those who make a difference in the lives of others, someone who knows that a smile can be just as productive as a hundred meaningless words, it's about the kind and caring individual whose words of encouragement will be heard years after they've been whispered. Coaching is taking players on a journey to a place they have never been before, to treat each day like it's your first, and your last on the job. It's a journey that will last a lifetime and bring forth many emotions, some great, some not so good, but more often than not they will all become treasured teachable moments that will last forever. Coaching is caring, it's keeping players engaged, enthusiastic, and building confidence. It's about sharing your passion, and having a willingness to be a guide who loves the game and wants nothing more than to share their knowledge with those they coach, to challenge them so they too can share their passion and understanding. A coach is someone who sets standards, who relates to others and their needs, who handles pressure knowing that optimism will get them through. A coach must know that to enjoy success, they have to know how to deal with failure. A coach understands that it's trust and integrity that builds and maintains team chemistry. A coach should love what they do, and do what they love, and make each experience fun, meaningful and educational. I am a coach, I am a teacher, I am a trainer, a manager, a guide, a mentor, someone who allows his players to take ownership of their individual and team development, and through a process of encouragement, accountability, and team ownership, players start to become teachers and facilitators for themselves and their teammates. Teaching and instilling these qualities will help the young children I work with enhance their life skills along with their soccer abilities, and there is no better reward for a coach than that."

I'm sure you're all wondering what Anson wrote.  I'm embarrassed to say I can’t tell you, because I never read it.

What makes a great coach? All of you by responding to this and sharing. I'm a little bit better today than I was yesterday - Thank You.

 

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