Former NFL player urges youth coaches to STOP yelling; START relating
By Greg Bach
Former NFL defensive back Solomon Wilcots played for a lot of coaches during his rise as a young athlete in Compton, Calif.
He knows what resonates with kids.
And what doesn’t.
“Every coach seems to know how to yell and to scream and shout,” says Wilcots, a popular television and radio sports broadcaster these days. “Why are you screaming at them? I never see Bill Belichick yelling and screaming. I never saw Tom Landry do it. I didn’t see Chuck Noll do it a whole lot. We’re talking about Hall of Fame coaches, some of the greatest ever. So if those guys were great and didn’t have to do it I don’t think it has to be done.”
GIVE ’EM A HAND
Wilcots remembers – and fully appreciates – his youth football coaches and their influence on his life.
“They were everything,” he says.
He fell in love with the game fast. He soaked up everything his coaches told him. And he’s forever thankful for their guidance.
What they taught laid the foundation for Wilcots, who was a tireless worker, to later earn a scholarship to play college football at the University of Colorado; and that was followed by six seasons in the NFL with the Cincinnati Bengals, Pittsburgh Steelers and Minnesota Vikings.
“You don’t really know what you are doing,” he says of those early years starting out at the youth level. “You need their help in order to get good and be consistent. And then when they tell you to do something and you see it work it’s like ‘wow’ and I just wanted more and more. I couldn’t get enough.”
His coaches cared.
And he responded by giving everything he had.
“Kids have to know that you care about them,” he says. “I just think that for any coach, any leader, any manager or any CEO, that people will run through a wall for you when they truly, deeply understand that you care for them. The way you connect is they have to know you care.”
Coaches who show up in yelling mode turn kids off.
And what they say typically gets tuned out.
But for those who show up ready to teach, encourage and foster a love of the sport, special moments await.
“You have to sow some seeds of goodwill,” Wilcots says. “Especially with millennials now you can’t just show up ripping them when you haven’t even reached out an olive branch or given them a hand up in life.”
Show you care and watch players respond.
It’s a beautiful sight.
“Give them a hand up in life and then watch them run through a wall for you,” Wilcots says. “The olive branch has to come first. You have to be willing to invest in people.”
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