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Two Different Sides to Coaching

Coaches have to manage a balancing act.  At certain times, when times are tough or performance is lagging, they need to show toughness and challenge their athletes to push through.  Then other times, they need to display compassion and empathy when a player is down or is going through personal issues.

Dawn Redd-Kelly, head women’s volleyball coach at Beloit College who writes blogs for coaches on her site Coach Dawn Writes, calls it the “necessities of coaching,” whether you coach a boy’s team or girl’s team.  “You’ve got to be able to bring the hammer, but you’ve also got to care,” she writes.  “I’ve seen young coaches miss the boat on this one, trying too hard to be their player’s friend that they are unable to effectively coach their team.”

In terms of younger coaches, Coach Dawn feels there are types:

•  The young coach ignores obvious problems in order to be “fun”, “cool”, or whatever.

•  The young coach is sometimes super “fun” in practice and other times oddly strict…their teams don’t know what to expect.

•  The young coach is distant with players, not worried about being “fun”, but not able to connect with players on a personal level.

And she lists three qualities of “tough” coaches:

•  Demands consistent effort levels from their athletes

•  Sets a high bar for excellence within their program

•  Challenges athletes to embrace the discomfort of getting better

Her are Coach Dawn’s three qualities of caring coaches:

•  Lets their players get to know them

•  Takes an interest in their players personally

•  Stays in touch with former players

As Coach Dawn writes in her blog, both sides of a coach—toughness and compassion—are necessary.  “You don’t want to be a soft touch whose athletes take advantage of them, but you also don’t want to be so hard on them that they don’t enjoy their sport anymore,” she writes.  “Finding the right balance is the key to a successful coach-player relationship.”

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