There are four critical questions for coaches identified by Joe Ehrmann in his excellent book InsideOut Coaching – questions that every coach must ask themselves and be able to answer. We previously looked at the first (“Why do I coach?”) and the second (“Why do I coach the way I do?”). Here’s the third critical question: “What does it feel like to be coached by me?”
As a coach, do you really need to worry about your players feelings? Can’t you just focus on helping them get better and trying to win more games?
Consider this perspective from Ehrmann as he coached high school football: “I wanted to create an atmosphere in which I could connect with and transform my players. I thought about all the pressure young people battle every day. They get up early in the morning, grab something to eat, commute to school, endure full days of academic learning, competitive grading, SAT prep, parental pressures, and homework. Between classes they walk the halls dealing with peer pressure, social pressure, sexual pressure, and all the difficulties negotiating the uncertainty of adolescent development. At the end of the day they walk out on the athletic field and are coached by me. How does that feel to them? What feelings do my words, actions, and interactions create within my players?”
You share Ehrmann’s desire to create an atmosphere in which you can connect with and transform your players. The feelings your words, actions, and interactions create in them – in the midst of the swirl of everything else they’re encountering in daily life – can reinforce the connection and transformation you’re hoping for. Or those feelings created by you will work against your ultimate purpose as a coach.
In describing how he carried out his ministry, the Apostle Paul shares this in 1 Thessalonians 2:11-12 – “For you know that we dealt with each of you as a father deals with his own children, encouraging, comforting and urging you to live lives worthy of God, who calls you into his kingdom and glory.”
Paul wasn’t just about trying to make those he led/coached “feel good.” Urging someone to live worthy of God can sometimes require correction or rebuke, things that don’t “feel good” in the moment to those who receive them. But Paul’s goal was that they would always feel loved and valued by him as he urged them to live fully for the Lord, including when correction was needed. He wanted them to feel like he treated them as if they were his very own children – and he wanted nothing less than God’s very best for them.
You can make that your same pursuit as a coach: Whether you’re affirming or correcting or merely “shooting the breeze” with them, may your words, actions, and interactions with your players leave them feeling loved, valued, and convinced you desire nothing less than God’s best for them. This is at the heart of creating an atmosphere in which you can connect with and transform your players.