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Being a Thankful Coach

Throughout the season, many coaches have their athletes do reflections on their successes and goals. Coaches themselves also take time to reflect on their work with the players. But this process doesn’t have to be reserved for the competitive season  alone. In a blog for his website, former athlete and UsRowing Level III Coach Neil Bergenroth explains the importance of reflecting at the tail end of the season. And one of the ways that he does this is through writing a thank you letter to each individual athlete.

According to Bergenroth, writing a letter to your athletes helps build your connection as well as show your appreciation for their work during the season. Chances are you will have a relationship with the athletes even after they play their last game for you. Even if you had trouble with specific athletes, writing a letter of appreciation will better stick with them later in life. And this process can also create a relationship with each player on the team.

“Giving everyone equal attention on the river/playing field or classroom is difficult, but coaches and teachers strive to do just that,” writes Bergenroth. “Giving each athlete/student a personal note lets them know that they are important to you.”

Besides connecting with players, another important aspect of coaching is motivating athletes to do their best. Bergenroth explains that one way to do this is to help them realize the growth that they have undergone throughout the season. Even if it is something that seems small, celebrating these triumphs with them will help keep them encouraged while also helping them to see that they have indeed improved. 

For those athletes who struggled during the season, your letter can even be a game-changer. These players especially might need assistance seeing even the small differences that they made, whether it’s on the field or off. Not only will they be able to see that they made progress through your written note, but Bergenroth also explains that this can help them feel as though they were and are still valued as part of the team and that you want them to return the next year.

“Retention in schools and sports teams is important, particularly for future performance,” writes Bergenroth. “Your student-athlete might be wondering if all the time and effort is worth it. Your note might be the one thing that convinces them that they should take another swing at it next season.”

Last, Bergenroth recommends taking the time to write personal notes because it shows your gratefulness more than a quick email or text. Chances are, even if they don’t admit it, you will make your athletes’ day. Bergenroth himself keeps thank you notes from colleagues, former students, and athletes to look back on when he is having a particularly hard day. And just as Bergenroth has received letters from his colleagues, he explains that you don’t have to only write thank you notes to your athletes.

“Take some time to write a note or two to your fellow coaches, or even coaches from other programs,” writes Bergenroth. “Acknowledge their hard work and congratulate them on their successes. This helps to strengthen the relationship between individuals and between programs.

To read the full article, click here.

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