Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Creating the Perfect Coach

Words mean more than what is set down on paper. It takes the human voice to infuse them with deeper meaning. – Maya Angelou

Some of the qualities of a good coach include motivation, passion, poise, positive attitude and communication. The high school coaches of Project Coach are invited to biweekly training sessions to learn about effective coaching skills so that they may be more impactful as they teach elementary school players better to be better athletes, better students, and - most importantly - better people. Last week, the high school coaches were asked to visually represent the qualities of coaching by creating a poster size representation of their ideal coach.

The high school coaches were asked to explain how their pictorial representation depicts the values of coaching. As they discussed this project in groups, creative visual images started to appear for the invisible qualities a coach possesses. For example, a first aid kit represented caring and trustworthiness, a "thumbs up" demonstrated positive energy, and wrist watches were used for timeliness and patience. John, a newcomer to the Project Coach team, struggled to represent encouragement and participation; he finally decided to draw the coaches and players dribbling a basketball together, in the same scene, to show their camaraderie.

As each group presented their posters, a theme caught my eye: the importance of a coach’s voice. The pictures of a coach’s voice varied; some pictures had wide mouths, large speech bubbles or wide smiles. “Loud,” “enthusiastic,” “encouraging,” and “a voice of authority” were some of the words used in describing the coaches’ voices. The founders of Project Coach and the graduate students helping with Project Coach help promote the importance of a coaching voice. Through ice breaker activities, the graduate students ask the high school coaches to demonstrate their best coaching voices. While explaining some basketball game strategies, the graduate students used particular phrases and words of encouragement. The high school coaches became aware of how effective a coach’s voice can be when their players are on the court running to make a layup, or shooting a jump-shot. Hopefully, soon they will be able to develop their own coaching voice to motivate their team of children in the upcoming basketball season.

by Ellie Theurer

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