Lessons in leadership
By Greg Bach
Volunteer coaches can introduce and teach young athletes numerous attributes that will pay dividends for a lifetime.
One of those that often gets overlooked in the chaos of a fast-moving season is leadership.
So who better to dissect it than Miami Heat coach Erik Spoelstra, widely recognized as one of the game’s preeminent leaders.
And one of its most respected coaches, too.
The two-time NBA champion coach points out that today’s youth coaches can begin laying that foundation of leadership with their players early on.
“It’s interesting, especially in youth sports, to be able to start the process of leadership,” Spoelstra says.
Perhaps even more interesting, the winner of nearly 500 NBA games suggests that coaches can turn to some of their team’s better athletes to help them not only learn those valuable leadership skills, but also how to help pull the team into a more cohesive group.
“Especially when working with young kids some of the star players can really help,” he says. “Pull some of the better players on the team aside and talk to them and tell them that a big part of their job with the team is to make sure everyone on the team is having a great experience and to include them in every activity you are doing.”
That helps create that coveted team chemistry that is so essential for a team to operate at top efficiency on game day.
It can also spark some special friendships that will carry on for years.
And when it all comes together, Spoelstra reminds coaches to make sure their players know they not only see it, but admire it.
“As a coach you really applaud that when kids start to reach out and help other kids,” he says. “That’s what team sports is all about. It’s all about teamwork and building a group and collectively coming together and accomplishing something special that you can’t do on your own, and it takes every single member of the team. Once they start to get that, they understand that being part of a team and building a team and having everybody involved that there is no better feeling in sports then that.”
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Monique Henderson, Olympic track great and college coach, on chasing improvement one fun-filled step at a time
Ole Miss sports psychologist Dr. Josie Nicholson on helping your young athletes deliver positive messages to themselves to perform at their best