Mentor or mere Coach?

Article by Dr. Tim Tregoning

We wanted to share this great article by Dr. Tregoning on how the player-coach relationship is vital and touches on both the coach and player role in that relationship.  It is a good reminder that our coaches do not realize sometimes the impact they have as a mentor and role model for young players.  For the players, it is also important that they take an active role in building a relationship with the coach.  Relationship skills will be a critical core competency as our players develop in the game of soccer and in LIFE.

Dr. Tim Tregoning

Some of the greatest men and women in America’s history have  credited much of their success to either their mentor or coach. That one individual who took the time to  care.  To instruct in more than just the tactics and skills required of the game. The person that was looked up to...a role model. Someone you wanted to be when you ’grew up.’ 

As parents, we must strive to be ’that person.’  We also must make every attempt to place our children in the path of these types of men and women. 

John Wooden: One of the true gentlemen in sports, or any other walk of life. He taught them how to be good people, good sports AND still be competitive. He got stars to play unselfishly together. He won an unprecedented 10 NCAA National  Championships in 12 years while at UCLA! Seven in a row !!

John Wooden’s Seven Point Creed, given to him by his father (mentor) Joshua upon his graduation from grammar school:
Be true to yourself.
Make each day your masterpiece.
Help others.
Drink deeply from good books, especially the Bible.
Make friendship a fine art.
Build a shelter against a rainy day.
Pray for guidance and give thanks for your blessings every day.

Dean Smith, UNC: Coach Smith exemplifies characteristics that are regrettably so lacking in today’s society: decency, fair play, doing the right thing...not the easy thing. Coach Smith was the best teacher of the game of basketball, and he did it all with style, grace, modesty, and a sense of decorum. 

Bear Bryant, Alabama: He not only won a bunch of national championships, he did it over several decades. He changed with the times, first winning with quick small linemen, then with the big guys. He won with the wishbone, split backfield, and a pro set. He was a winner everywhere he coached. He always had a great defense. He also considered his responsibility to produce great men not just great ball players. He won without superstars who most teams seem to require today. He won with athletes who were motivated to simply go out and do their best, both in football and life. He always gave them the credit for winning the games and he took the credit for losing them.  He embodied all that a great coach should be.

Wiel Coerver (Coerver Coaching): In the late 1970’s, Dutch European Championship winning coach Wiel Coerver  led a revolution in soccer coaching. He was dissatisfied with the lack of individual skills and his early focus was on teaching ball mastery and 1 vs.  1 skills by encouraging players to emulate the "moves" of soccer’s all-time greats like Sir Stanley Matthews, Cryuff, Beckenbauer and Pele.  In 1984, inspired by Wiel Coerver’s philosophy, Alfred Galustian and Charlie Cooke founded what is now known around the world as Coerver Coaching.  Since then, over one million players and thousands of coaches have attended Coerver Programs all over the World. Over 300 students have gone onto professional careers, one current example being Terry Antonis, a "Coerver kid" since age 6, and  at 16 years of age made his debut for Sydney United.

TSCH: Mission, Vision, Core Values

Creating future stars in the game of soccer and in life.

What does our mission statement mean?  It’s our mission to help ALL players (no matter what background, age or level) become STARS in LIFE and develop a life-long passion for the game!  We are confident working together we will help better prepare players as they move into adulthood (and while in adulthood) in an ever changing, diverse and global society.  We firmly believe that our players’ learning experiences in the game as a life-long member of our club will help prepare them to be STARS in LIFE!

Vision Statements:
To build a leading sustainable development model that grows the number of players that develop a life-long passion for the game by providing enhanced opportunities for all players regardless of age or ability.
To be the leader in teaching players about life lessons, having high expectations and positive character traits such as good sportsmanship, fair play, team importance, doing one’s best, never giving up, respecting opponents and officials, and honor of the game.

Core Values:
Continuous Learning
Value Diversity
Personal Responsibility

I truly believe that everything in life comes down to relationships. Everything. To be successful in any walk of life, many times sports is one of the many vehicles used to form and shape our lives.  While there are numerous relationships that directly affect and impact players, the player-coach relationship is paramount.  

The Player’s Role
How many times have you heard a player use their coach as a scapegoat for why they aren’t successful? "I would play more but the coach doesn’t like me" or "My coach is an idiot, I am a and he is making me play ."

These are just excuses. As a player, whether in high school, college, or professional, your coach is your boss. Your coach is the CEO of your team. As the old saying goes, "the boss signs the paychecks." That means the coach is in charge, period. The sooner you acknowledge that the better.

With that said, as a player, if you truly want to maximize your ability and development, increase your playing time, and increase your chance to play at the next level, it is in your best interest to have a superb relationship with your coach. That doesn’t mean you have to agree with everything they do, but you have to do your part to contribute to the relationship.

Do you ask your coach if you can stay after practice so you can perfect your shots? Do you thank him if he says yes? If you aren’t playing a lot, do you ask your coach what you need to work on to get more minutes? Do you show your coach the same respect you show your parents or the principal of your school? Do you listen with your eyes and your ears when the coach is speaking at practice or team meetings? Have you earned your coach’s trust and respect?

Do you know much about your coach outside of soccer? Does he/she have any kids? What do they like to do aside from soccer? If you are currently a player, at any level, and feel there is some strain in your relationship with your head coach, I challenge you to take the first step in mending things- it will go a long way and ultimately, will help you in the end.  If you feel as though your coach is unapproachable, or you are really in the dog house, is there an assistant coach you can speak with to help mediate things? If you currently have a great relationship with your coach, congratulations, make sure you thank them and let them know how much you appreciate them!

The Coach’s Role
Most coaches have noble intentions. Rarely will you meet a coach, at any level, who does it solely for the money. They coach because they love the game and enjoy working with young people.

But times have changed with today’s technology. While many coaches have sincere intentions, there are plenty that don’t make the effort necessary to really understand the youth of today.  As a coach, whether at a club, high school or a major university, you should get to know your players, know what is going on in their life, find out what makes them tick, and do your best to stay up with the times. How well do you know your players’ families? Do you know how to text message or what Facebook even is? Do you know what kind of music your players listen to? Do you know what their goals and dreams are?

In my opinion, a coach’s primary job description is to be an exemplary role model and provide an atmosphere for the student-athlete to take full advantage of their potential. A coach should be a teacher of the game. A coach should be a motivator. A coach should be a mentor. And while it is not the coach’s job to be "friends" with his players, I do think coaches should make every attempt to show his players he cares about them as people, not just as players.

And while I will reiterate, it is not the coach’s job to be friends with his players nor try to emulate them in how they dress or speak,  a coach should make every attempt to be likeable and show that he cares. Kids will always play harder for someone they like as well as someone they know cares about them.

If you get on your kids really hard when they don’t play well, do you balance that out with encouragement and praise when they do? It has been my experience that kids crave discipline as long as it comes from someone they care about. It is important for a coach to understand, especially when dealing with today’s kids, that respect and trust must be earned. A player is not going to respect you just because you are the have to earn their respect through the way you carry yourself and the way you treat them.

Even though it might not be your taste, respect the way the way they walk, talk, and dress. If you truly want your players to work hard for you every practice and game, then you need to work just as hard for them. Put effort into your practice plans, scouting reports, and team functions. The more you do for your players, the more they will do for you.

Respect is a 2-way street- give it, get it. 

It has been said, "at the end of the day, the game must end.". Whether your player is advancing through the ranks at the friendship level, or the international level, the game has an endpoint. What IS more important than the win/loss record, state titles achieved, national ranking attained is this: Who put life skills into our players, in the name of soccer, that made them an outstanding member of society? Do they show co-workers respect? Can they work along side others from different cultural backgrounds? Can they lead with authority and compassion? Can they respect those in authority over them ?

These are the qualities that constitute  quality individuals and enable them to do great things in their lives. Let’s make sure that winning on the field doesn’t supersede the real turf we are to succeed on--the turf of life.