Lessons in leadership
By Greg Bach
Volunteer coaches have incredible opportunities to introduce and teach young athletes numerous attributes that will pay dividends for a lifetime.
One of those that often gets overlooked in the blur 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, whose team is battling the Los Angeles Lakers for the 2020 crown – 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 more than 550 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 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.
“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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