Coaches need to remember this sports season is different – Letter to the Editor
If you are a coach starting out a youth sports season right around now, I wish you would consider this; Those players you see on your team have endured a lot over the past i8 months.
Getting back onto a field represents a return to normality for them; they are anxious at tryouts and even more anxious just before that starting whistle goes. Remember how much is at stake for them as they lace up.
They have lost a year in personal growth and social development. Remember that. Some of them considered giving up the sport that they love because trying to stay fit and holding out hope for a season got overwhelming for them. So be thankful those in your line up found the courage to come back and try out one more time. Be thankful that they are passionate about your sport that they are in front of you today ready to play.
Get inside their heads and imagine yourself stepping onto a field in a competitive game for the first time in at least a year and in some cases, closer to two years. You may be thinking about the opposing team or how the season is going to go as you would have done before the pandemic. That’s not important anymore; neither are the “lessons” you would have thought important for them to learn this season.
Remember this: there are very few lessons you or your sport can teach them that the pandemic has not already taught them.
Resilience? Covid got that.
Perseverance? Covid got that.
Disappointment? Covid got that.
Or the favorite, Mental Toughness? Covid got that one too.
What you have to do, coach, is to make sure they have fun out there. Make sure they know they don’t have to win to be a winner. Make sure this is their return to play, not yours. One thing you can teach them is how to be a team player. A lot of them have forgotten how. Teach them to make decisions (or not!) that will affect the entire team, not just themselves.
IF you have to teach them to “take it on the chin”, make sure they’re taking it on the chin for the team and not for you. Your ego, your desire to win, is secondary to your players; it always was, but this year it may determine whether one of those players in front of you makes it through the season or hangs up his cleats for good.
Make it a good season Coach!
– Contributed by Catherine Shaughnessy King, Milton resident.