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Becoming a Stronger Coach

In any career, staying a student is important to being the best that you can be. This is no different for coaches, as each year new athletes arrive with new challenges. Being effective in your role involves taking time for self-development. In an article on the website for the Ohio University Online Master's Degree Program, coaches can find some advice for becoming stronger in their profession.

First of all, the authors describe the importance of learning how to set effective goals. With the right goals, your team will be more successful. These goals should be challenging, but not so much that your players will not be able to achieve them. One tip is to set short-term goals, such as ones that are specific to practice or to a certain drill. Another piece of advice is to remember to stay flexible.

“Goals do not need to be set in stone,” write the authors at Ohio University. “As improvements are made, or unforeseen challenges come to light, goals can be revised to reflect these changes. It’s important that your goals be specific, and that team members all understand their role in achieving them.”

The next step in becoming a stronger coach is creating a positive team culture. According to the authors at Ohio University, this should focus on more than just winning. Instead, it should foster healthy competition and good sportsmanship no matter the outcome of an individual game or an entire season.

“Find ways to communicate the strength and uniqueness of your team,” write the authors at Ohio University. “Encourage each member to become a part of the team’s identity, and take pride in being a part of something bigger than themselves. Even if you coach an individual sport, you can help the athletes that you work with seek out comradery, encourage other athletes and compete positively.”

Part of creating a positive culture on your team is providing consistent feedback. The authors suggest making sure that, even after a loss, coaches feedback is more positive and constructive than critical. It’s up to you to help your athletes learn what they need to change in order to improve. This also involves getting to know each athlete and the type of feedback that works best for them.

“Athletes are all humans, and they all respond differently,” write the authors at Ohio University. “Feedback should be individualized, whenever possible. Some individuals like to be praised in front of a group, while others respond better when feedback is given one-on-one. Even if each team member is not performing at the same level, finding ways to encourage individual improvements can lead to better cohesiveness.”

Of course, it can be easy to get caught up in the momentum and importance of a big game. The authors stress the importance of not allowing these moments to take over, and keeping each game in perspective. While winning is important, every game is a learning opportunity for athletes.

Last, in order to keep up with the constantly changing world of sports, it is important to continue learning. There are many opportunities to learn from others, whether through conferences, videos, or visiting teams. According to the authors, coaches who constantly seek out these opportunities will continue to grow and be a positive leader for their team.

“Just like the athletes that you work with, continuing to hone your skills will lead to positive growth,” write the authors at Ohio University. “Reading, continuing your personal education, seeking out resources and discovering what’s working (and what’s not) in other programs will help you to improve your game, and that will only benefit the athletes you coach.”

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