Teacher v Coaches
The definition of Coach: a person who teaches and trains an athlete to perform, but what does it mean to teach?
The definition of Teacher: one whose occupation is to instruct.
So really, the definition of Coach should be a person who instructs an athlete to perform.
Let’s look into the life of a teacher. A teacher takes a certain concept that a student is expected to learn and hopefully master. This concept is reinforced many times through different types of instruction such as questions, discussions, worksheets, homework, reviews, and finally a test. Students are not just told an answer and expected to know it. They are taught/instructed on how and why the answer is correct.
I have played and watched a lot of games throughout my career, and the one thing that I constantly see is players not thinking for themselves mainly due to not understanding how to do so. There are too many girls that get the ball on the field and never attempt to throw because they have no idea where the play is. Coaches, players, and parents all yell different things but the young girl doesn’t know who to listen to; when in reality she should not have to listen to anyone but herself and her teammates. This confusion often leads to errors, which leads to the player getting pulled from the game, which leads to fear and loss of confidence. More often than not most of us have had some sort of connection to this type of Coach or situation. Whether we are that Coach, our daughter or son plays for that Coach, or we had that type of Coach growing up. We all know this circumstance a little too well.
Take this same type situation and put it in the classroom. Do Teachers pull a kid from a class for missing a problem? Or do they patiently explain the problem and discuss why they missed the problem and how to do it differently next time? So I ask you, as Coaches are we really doing our job of instructing and helping the kids understand why and how?
If students’ struggle the teacher continues to work with the students until the concept is fully understood. Therefore students experience success as well as gain confidence and then feel ready to move onto future and more difficult concepts.
Teachers encourage to answer every question and try your best. Just as these teachers do, Coaches need to help these players understand through quality practice, communication, discussion, and trial and error. Therefore they won’t have to listen to anyone else but themselves because we have helped them to understand the game, and understand what to do in each and every situation. There is a plan in place every pitch due to the situation and it is critical that each and every player on that field and in the dug-out knows what that plan is.
Coaches need to encourage girls to make plays, to swing the bat, to throw the ball, and to make good decisions on the pitches they swing at or the base they throw to. Coaches should want their young athletes to do these things with 100% effort and confidence and if by chance they get it wrong a time a two, teach them why and help them be confident in making the change the next at bat or the next play. Importance of learning from experience is how we get through each game or each day in life and it is widely underestimated.
When a player understands why with two outs and a ball hit on the ground the best play is at first, they are less likely to throw it to the wrong base. When a player understands the importance of getting a bunt down, they will put more effort in their attempt to get bunt down as well as have more reason to practice it with focus. More understanding leads to more effort, more effort leads to more success, and success leads to confident players. Which we all battle with each and every day.
As Coaches we are teachers and need to take the time to teach our players, to help them understand their mistakes, as well as dust off and try again. We need to allow them to ask questions and not take offense to their questions as if they are “questioning our knowledge or drill” but they are just asking questions due to trying to understand and to help themselves create a focus. By “teaching” not only will our players have more success, but their confidence will grow and it is amazing what a team full of confident players can do together.