Rather than telling a team how it all looks from the sidelines, great coaches first seek to understand how their players are seeing and experiencing the game. Questions are crucial. The coach asks, ‘Tell me what you’re seeing out there?’, ‘Can you identify any problems?’, ‘How can we fix it?’, ‘What’s working well?’. The coach encourages learning.
It’s a coach’s job to get the best out of their players and their team. The coach’s job is not to vocally impress spectators or parents on the sidelines with their tactical insights, in depth knowledge of the game, or directorial skills.
These learnings are not just for sports coaches. These ideas and ideals are equally important for our parents and spectators. At Brigidine we ask that our girls be allowed to play, and that our coaches be allowed to coach. Our community culture around sport is overwhelmingly positive, yet not always, and it’s certainly true, that at times, some of us get the answers to the above three questions wrong, I know I have.
None of this means that we can’t cheer, encourage, support, and enjoy the sport our girls play, however, role modelling, perspective, context, and culture should be considered by all.
Last week I presented these issues to the student body at the full College assembly, although through a slightly different lens. The students were asked to consider sportsmanship, gratitude, team commitment, and communication with coaches, officials, and the opposition. They were asked questions like, ‘Do you always thank the referee and the coach?, ‘Do you thank and recognise the opposition?’, ‘Do you clean up the changerooms after games?, ‘Do you always attend training because you value a team commitment?’, Do you wear the correct uniform, and more importantly, if not why not?’.
We never always get things right at sport. A deep and positive passion and care for the players, the team, and the game result, can sometimes lead to negative outcomes. Things can be said and done in the heat of a sporting moment, that with the benefit of hindsight, would not. Yet, we still need to ask the questions, and to reflect and consider culture, if we are to have moments of powerful learning for our players, our coaches, our parents and our community.