In preparation for this year's URCA Conference, we asked some of our presenters two questions:
1. What was your happiest coaching moment, or what makes coaching worth your time and effort?
2. What's a quick tip for new coaches, or the most important thing to keep in mind while coaching?
1. My happiest coaching moments usually come when my players are happiest, too. The moment a player realizes that they have effectively utilized a skill that they've been working on or tried something new that worked -- those moments are super fun for me. There are also the occasional times when I have a newer player who does something absolutely brilliant and they don't have any idea that they even did such a high level act... and I'm over on the sideline freaking out excitedly.
2. A really important thing to keep in mind when you start coaching is that everyone learns differently and responds to coaching differently. It is your job to figure out how each player ticks and make sure you are adjusting YOUR coaching personality to best help THEM individually.
1. Last year, I coached the DC area U20 Girls YCC team to a silver medal at the Youth Club Championships and the whole tournament was an incredible experience. Our team, Rogue, came in ranked 10th and was supposed to be in a non-power pool, but we met formidable opponents from the start in Atlanta and Utah. The girls battled through pre-quarters, and so many close games, took out the twelve-year reigning champs from Seattle, and finally fell to a fantastic North Carolina Warhawks team in the finals. It was super inspiring to see my girls work so hard, and to take in this incredible display of grit and skill, especially since I started my ultimate career in the same community and was one of only three girls playing there when I started. I think the best part was during our quarter final against Seattle when I looked over to see a bunch of my friends and teammates from Truck Stop and Scandal watching and supporting. Lots of pride on lots of levels.
2. To me, the most important thing about coaching is not making it about power. I am there to help kids fall in love with the sport, and to help them become better people and players, but I am not there to live vicariously through their successes or failures. It can be hard to find the right line in terms of investing in the outcome, but I enjoy that challenge. It's obviously expected that you are trying to influence the outcome through strategy, but not by making calls, for example. I want to model integrity around and excitement for the game most of all.
1. One of my U24 players said they had never been encouraged by a teammate or coach in their club, just shouted at and put down. They said they would share the words 'Little bounce!' and 'Make a choice!' on every team they will ever play on, across all of East Malaysia. It made me laugh and cry at the same time: how did we ever lose the joy of playing Ultimate? It's worth every moment to have a player make a choice in their life that brings them joy - and will change others' lives too.
2. Coaching is change management. It takes vision, time, emotion, planning, perseverance and just at the point when you think WHY OH WHY DID WE TRY TO TEACH THIS HORIZONTAL SHAPE, keep going - the next tournament they'll get a bit more.
1. Coaching for me is a bit like creative puzzle solving at how to get individuals and teams to learn and execute concepts/skills. It is such a rich environment for the mind and building relationships.
2. You don’t have to have all the answers!! But you should be able to find them out or find someone who does; network, research, use your athletes, etc…
1. For athletes, training at a high level can be a journey of self-discovery, and as a coach, I feel very privileged to be part of this journey with them. When I get the chance to talk with one of my former athletes and when he/she tells me how they have grown through sport and how they have become a better person, this is one of my happy coaching moments.
2. As a coach, always keep in mind that you don’t have to be perfect. You only need to do your very best. This rule applies for athletes AND coaches. Be real, be humble and stay open to learning from your athletes.
1. The best thing about coaching, for me, is player epiphany moments. Whether they finally connect on what their role is on the team, or their deep timing clicks, the look on their face when they realize they did the thing is amazing, and if those moments come in tight games or to win championships, they become even more addictive. You seek them out, and will do almost anything to see another kid level up and believe in themselves.
2. You can tell that an athlete understands the skill or concept when they can teach or explain it to others. So delegating drill explanation, demonstrations, whiteboard strategy recaps, etc. is not just a good organizational skill (and can ward off burnout), it is an imperative action to reinforce learning and has the added benefit of bolstering a players' confidence in themselves.