Check out this little league coach showing this youngster how to grip a bat; now that’s teaching! Photo courtesy of westsidelittleleague.org
As many of you would probably know if you’ve been reading this blog or any of the stuff I’ve written on sites like Hub Pages, I worked with young people in some capacity – a physical education teacher, a sports coach (mostly baseball & softball), a tutor, and an after school leader – for roughly 25 years.
After those days were over and I had some time to reflect on it all, having noticed the styles of the various teachers and coaches that I worked with, worked for, and who taught and coached me during my formative years in school,
I developed a ratings system pertaining to the personality a teacher/coach; his or her philosophy and approach to working with and (particularly) interacting with children and young folks and how effective such would ultimately have.
My system is based on a 1-10 scale:
ONE – a teacher/coach whose approach is that of a buddy or a best friend, which in my experience describes many youth sports coaches who coach beginners and kids who are single-digit age.
Teachers and coaches like this are often quite popular, and their charges usually have a fun experience, which is important.
The problem with leaders like this is that the children who are learning whatever they are learning, usually end up not learning anything as the mindset of coaches like this is,
“We’re just here to have fun, it doesn’t really matter (if you get any better at whatever’s being taught)”
In essence, coaches like this run their team like a glorified recess.
Which is not good.
TEN – the opposite of a “ONE” coach.
Basically a Marine Corps drill sergeant in boot camp-type of leader.
These are the coaches/teachers who yell/scream at their students/athletes, belittling them, oftentimes calling them names, saying that they suck, giving harsh punishments, even throwing things at them.
A good illustration of this: My first high school marching band director (I had two during those days).
As a teacher, he fit all the above descriptions, his most often tirade being – at the top of his lungs of course, while looking like he was about to turn into the Incredible Hulk…
“You stink! You can’t march!! You can’t play!!! YOU STINK!!! I HATE YOU!!! Now go on and give me some push-ups!!! GO ON!!!!”
I also vividly recall him throwing his baton at a trumpet player during a rehearsal.
Essentially, teachers and coaches like him aren’t just intimidating, they are just plain mean – at least with their charges during practice or rehearsal.
I like the way the coach – one guess who it is by this pic – is interacting with his team here. Photo courtesy of happyhealthykids.com
And then there’s a…
FIVE – The rating that all leaders need to strive for.
These are the people who can get on you if needed, but in a good way so as to not make their students or players feel demeaned or humiliated.
More importantly, these are the leaders that show that they care about you not only in whatever they’re coaching or teaching,
But also as a human being.
For these coaches, it’s about positive reinforcement, self-esteem, and confidence building without being overly friendly or not holding their charges accountable.
In my experience and observation, there are only two people who are perfect fives in my book:
1. John Wooden, the former UCLA basketball coach widely regarded as the greatest coach in the history of sports not only due to his winning ten national championships in a twelve-year span – including seven in a row – but also due to his various quotes like “Be quick, but don’t hurry” and “Failing to prepare is preparing to fail” and his renowned “Pyramid of Success”, that is a basic guide on how to succeed in life.
2. Valorie Kondos Field, the dynamic coach of UCLA’s women’s gymnastics team who has won national championships, worked with All-Americans, members of the U.S. National Team (and other countries), Olympians and Olympic gold medalists, and who like Wooden has been extremely effective in teaching her young ladies how to get along in life, which has shown in the success of all her gymnasts once their Bruin days were done.
As For Me and My Rating As A Coach And A Teacher…
I was more or less all over the place.
There were times where I was about an eight, particularly during my first few years working with kids as while I never, ever hit anyone, I was a bit of a yeller at times and a my-way-or-else type of leader, something saying things to certain kids that I regret, that I would apologize for if I ever encountered such kids today.
There were also times when I was about a three, in that I would interact with my students and athletes like I was trying to be their buddy, which ruined the sense of authority that I was trying to establish.
I’d never say that I was a perfect five, but I was always striving for it, and you know what?
If I ever got a chance to coach or teach again, I’m confident that I would be as close to a five – perhaps a four or a six – than I ever was.
I hope this rating system makes sense to those of you who teach or coach or have aspirations to do so.
It’s certainly something that will be kept in my mind if the opportunity to work with young people ever arises again for me, my attitude being…
NEVER SAY NEVER.
Another illustration of good instruction from a coach. Photo courtesy of chicagonow.com