As a coach, irrespective of level, age, or gender we have a moral obligation to the players with which we work, to be the best version of ourselves so they can become the best version of themselves. Often, this means sacrificing a lot of time, putting in a lot of effort, and perhaps being disproportionately financially rewarded for the time invested. Why do it then? Obviously, that answer will differ based on who you speak to, but just like teachers and in fact, anyone who lives to serve others, I’d like to think that it’s in some small part down to the satisfaction you gain from knowing you positively impacted someone’s life. My own term for this that I have used to try and describe this type of feeling is “selfish selflessness”.
When working to serve others, however, it’s critical to not forget about yourself. There’s a saying I like that goes, “youth is no guarantee of innovation like age is no guarantee of experience.” Irrespective of age it’s important to remember that you’ll never have all the answers and that having the right people in your corner can go a long way to allowing you to best support the players you work with.
Who are those people? Well, that’s up to you. It could be an older coach, it could be a peer in a different sport, it could be a more qualified colleague, it could be a friend in a totally unrelated field and could be someone that perhaps breaks all the rules and is younger, and on paper, less-experienced, but has a special quality or knowledge base that you have identified. In my opinion there really is no rule here other than you almost organically go searching for people whom you value deeply that you can both learn with and from, that are capable of providing support or clarity or perhaps challenging opinion in the times you need it most.
Understanding that you probably share a similar “why” also means that the richness and authenticity of the conversation will be significant, and you shouldn’t feel like a burden if initiating a conversation.
For anyone reading this who has yet to find a mentor or anyone who is looking to add to the list of people they can turn to for support, advice, or an understanding ear, I would say this. They usually aren’t formed through formal requests. They’re born out of organic interactions where sincerity and passion for the job we do and the desire we have to help is apparent. These conversations and later the physical actions that prove the words weren’t just “hot air”, can be the catalyst for some of the most meaningful and impactful relationships of your life. I also think that a mentor’s appreciation for the needs of a mentee may have at a specific time, remembering what it felt like for them at a similar time and who was in their corner, ensures a willingness to help. Passing it forward, after all, is something that many of us are trying to do.
It’s also critical that age, experience, and relative success play no bearing in coaches reaching a point in their development where they think they have all the answers. In fact, I would argue that for most of those that I know best that would be considered by others as elite or experts, they are actually some of the most humble and most committed to both searching for and harnessing an opinion of others or extra knowledge. You only know what you know you know, and by the nature of learning and developing, you realize there is in fact so much left to learn and probably so much you will never know hence why having extra people in your corner is key.
As we build out the plans for our newly launched Coach Mentorship Program, the hope is that we can build a community of coaches committed to not just getting better and more knowledgeable, but that are prepared to support each other in growing the quality of education and experience players across the country receive. That they are excited to help each other grow and that maybe, just maybe, are capable of changing each other’s lives. After all, soccer is a small world.
See you soon.
Interested in signing up for the next round of the Coach Mentorship Program? Learn more details about how to get started: info.beyondpulse.com/coach-mentorship-program.