The Importance of the Coach

February, 2 2021

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The influence a coach has on the young people who come into their life is comparable to few. They have such tremendous power and opportunity to help shape individuals into who they are to become. And they do so with passion, care and concern.

We were recently reminded of the value and importance of coaches. We just did an online session with a hockey team. A team who, like many of you, are no longer on the ice, no longer working out together, no longer building face to face relationships with one another. Their coaches are not as hands on as they used to be, or want to be, despite trying to do everything they can to keep their team engaged. Some athletes joined us from home, some from the ODR that miraculously has been permitted to remain open. Yet regardless of where they were tuning in from, the whole team tuned in. More on this later…

The importance of coaching goes far beyond the ice. Coaches set the tone for team culture.

As presenters we did our thing. We discussed the importance of continuing to complete their HONE surveys despite, or perhaps in spite of, recent changes to sport. We talked about where their data would be going (to their coach) and how he would be using it. Quite frankly we said a lot of really great stuff!! And none of it mattered.

With confidence and self-assuredness, we can openly admit that the only thing of importance these young hockey players heard was what their coach had to say. While we pretended not to notice their eyes looking off to the side of the screen or the shaky images of those who were outside - that was the reality! However, once we were done and the coach started speaking the eyes no longer looked offscreen and the images settled. They listened.

The coach talked about how much he appreciated having data that allowed him to get a sense of their mental wellness especially during a time where he can’t connect and build relationships face to face. He spoke about his commitment to checking their data every week and learning about ways to further support them. He discussed recognition of the importance of staying on top of their mental wellness and working together to make sure they were creating a team culture that fostered wellness and care. And that is what they heard.

The importance of coaching goes far beyond the ice

Coaches set the tone for team culture. No matter how much influence we may like to have - it is the coach they look to and let’s go a step further – it is the coach they look up to. A coach who recognizes that he or she builds the team off the ice is going to beat you every time. The coach who nurtures healthy relationships among teammates, the coach who respects his or her players, the coach who values happiness and enjoyment will garner compliance and effort far superior to those who fail to see the importance of wellness.

While things may be off kilter, which they are, there is an opportunity here. Take the time to know your athletes as individuals not just players. Get to know what they value, what matters to them in a teammate, what kind of team they want to be a part of. Foster an environment of wellness and support. When the day comes for your team to step back on the ice, and that day will come, your commitment to the individuals that make up your team will be more than ready to get out there and play as one.

….oh yes – about that aforementioned team…their team participation for their HONE surveys are among the best we’ve seen. And we are not the least bit surprised.


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Demystifying Athlete Mental Health

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