North Carolina's Roy Williams on impacting young lives
By Greg Bach
Growing up, Roy Williams’ life was forever altered by the coaches he encountered on the basketball courts and baseball fields of his youth.
They taught him skills.
They served as father figures when his dad’s life spun out of control due to alcoholism.
And they gave him a sense of purpose and belief in himself that he’d never experienced before.
“When I was growing up playing Little League Baseball and Little League basketball and everything I could possibly play my coaches were the most important role models to me,” says Williams, one of the featured coaches in the new National Alliance for Youth Sports’ Coaching Youth Sports training video. “I had a very difficult home situation at times. My mom was the angel of the world, but those coaches really were people that made me feel very good and gave me confidence.”
When Williams attended T.C. Roberson High School in Asheville, N.C., his basketball coach Buddy Baldwin changed the course of his life.
“My high school coach was the first person who ever made me feel good about things, made me feel that I had a tremendous opportunity and who gave me confidence,” Williams shared. “That made me feel so good. That’s the reason I decided I wanted to be a coach. The influence that my Little League baseball coaches and my high school coaches had on me at that time is still a great influence today.”
Now Williams – who has led North Carolina to two national championships and is in the College Basketball Hall of Fame – is impacting young lives through the power of coaching.
We asked the coaching legend to share some of his insights to help make a difference in the lives of your young players in whatever sport you may be coaching. Here’s what he had to say:
DIAL PLAYERS IN TO THE PROCESS
“You can’t have players thinking about the result, they should be thinking about the process,” Williams says. “In a golf swing you should never say, ‘gosh, I’ve got to hit this close.’ You go through your routine and go through that process. A guy who goes to the free throw line should never say, ‘boy, if I don’t make this free throw we are going to lose the game.’ You go through your checkpoints: ‘I’ve got to have full extension and a good follow through.’ So try to keep them in the process as opposed to thinking about the result.”
THE POWER OF POSITIVITY
“I think everybody that volunteers to be a coach has to understand that kids are really going to take in what they say and believe everything they say, so the influence they have is tremendous,” Williams says. “I have a summer basketball camp and I tell all my coaches to try to be as positive as you can possibly be because those kids are going to remember what you say and it is going to have an influence – it did on me. It’s all personal experiences.”
DON’T BE A WEAK LEADER
“Coaches, whether it’s a volunteer or at the major college level, have to understand that youngsters are individuals and you can’t treat everyone the same,” Williams says. “You have to treat them fairly but I think it’s a weak leader who says he has to treat people the same. It’s important to treat them fairly, understand they are an individual, and try to picture their own thought process.”
University of Nevada basketball coach Eric Musselman on keeping young players on edge so practices are fun, engaging and productive
Long-time University of Michigan volleyball coach Mark Rosen has a challenge for today’s volunteer coaches. Are you up for it?
UNLV women’s basketball coach Kathy Olivier on using humor and creating good vibes for productive practices
Brianne McLaughlin, a two-time Olympian for Team USA, shares how to help young athletes work through disappointment, embrace change – and have some all-important fun throughout the process, too