Coaches at high levels at prestigious programs need to win to keep their jobs. Winning consistently makes recruiting easier, keeps the fan base energized, the administration and boosters happy, and the financial bottom line healthy. But when the awards for the championships and the successful careers have been given, has the coach been a good coach?
There is an old saying, "Don't confuse winning with good coaching." Games are sometimes won because of good coaching and sometimes in spite of mediocre coaching. Games can be won as a result of elite player and team development, but more often games, particularly championship games, are lost by poor player development and team preparation.
When a game is done, I have always asked myself two questions: 1) Could we have defeated our best competition today, e.g., the #1 ranked team in the league, state or country? 2) Did we go about our business in preparation, hustle, effort, perseverance, and sportsmanship and inspire those who watched us, e.g., the other team, the officials, and the fans of both teams, to be better in their lives? If so, we 'won', if not, we did not.
Good coaches recognize that to develop the best teams and players, they must first train the team members to be great athletes. And before they can train their team members to be great athletes, they must connect with, understand, validate and mentor the team members as persons. Better People = Better Athletes = Better Players/Teammates.
The best coaches proactively design their daily practice and training plans to teach life lessons within the game for beyond the game. They do not simply let the game's adversity imply those lessons. They use quotes, acronyms, role plays and guest speakers to teach the team how what they are learning and experiencing relate to their lives as sons, daughters, brothers, sisters, students, employees and community and business leaders.
The mentorship of the person, at every level, youth, high school, college and professional is the foundation for everything!
Why is this so? First, if a coach stays in coaching long enough and has gone about coaching the right way, the communications of appreciation from their players in the future will not be about the wins and the championships; they will be about how the coach made the player a better person.
Second, even if a coach is not lucky enough to be given the opportunity to coach for many years or at a high level, the impact the coach can make on one team or even one player can inspire those players to help and inspire countless other people throughout their lives. The ripple effect is exponential and immeasurable, but is directly correlated to the quality of the mentorship they received. "To the world you may be one person, but to one person you may be the world."
Third, when a coach stands in final judgment by Him who matters most, the trophies for wins and championships will be irrelevant. So will the number of great and famous baseball players the coached developed. He will only score and count as a win the number of people a coach helped in their own lives who were poor, homeless, hungry, oppressed, sick, etc., i.e., His people, and how many of the coach's players the coach taught and inspired to do the same. It is not enough to Him to develop great players and teams; a coach must mentor players who use their gifts not for personal gain, but to serve others.
If I had one recommendation for coaches for a lesson that provides the foundation for the mentorship of every player it would be the concept of passion. When a person is truly passionate about something, they will be motivated to use their gifts to be the best they can be to further that passion. If a coach or player is not passionate about baseball they move on to find something in life they are passionate about and use what they have learned from the attention to detail it takes to be great at our beautiful game to be the best they can be in their work and life to benefit others particularly those in need and the less fortunate.
When coaches do this, they will be and will coach champions, Champions for Life.
Adam Sarancik is the author of an Amazon Top 100 Best Seller, Coaching Champions for Life - The Process of Mentoring the Person, Athlete and Player and its companion book, Takeaway Quotes for Coaching Champions for Life.