A Coaches Influence?

New Zealand’s Kiwis rugby league team and our All Blacks rugby team both delivered results over the weekend that can only be described as ‘last minute’ & ‘heart stopping’ for both fans & coaches alike!

Both teams snatched ‘victory from the jaws of defeat’ in the absolute last minute – the league team in their World Cup semi final against England and the All Blacks against Ireland to go the full 2013 season undefeated in 14 tests. If you haven’t seen it then go online and look at the last 2 minutes of each game. (you have to feel greatly for the Irish who have not beaten the All Blacks ever in test matches that go back to 1905 and for their NZ coach Joe Schmidt as they lament the opportuniEes they had to win)

You can look at sport and the kind of wins these two teams conjured up and think:

  • what part did the coaching staff play in helping build a culture that kept the players focused on the prize even when others would have yielded & faltered?
  • what about the life of a coach (and his mental health & blood pressure) who has to endure the tension in such situations?

Some would say it was individual brilliance that saved the day, others that true champions play to the final whistle.

John Wooden – perhaps the all time great coaching legend of USA basketball because of the way he developed players as people – said:

A coach is nothing more, nor less, than a teacher. The coach is there to teach each “youngster” more than just the fundamentals of the sport. There’s something larger at stake. A coach is teaching each youngster about life itself

Developing the athlete as an individual beyond their athletic prowess is a responsibility of every coach. In fact, helping athletes become better people, not just better performers, is the main function of any coach

I’ve heard it said that ‘sport forms character’ but many would say ‘sport reveals character’. Whatever the truth (and maybe both are true) sport can have a real role to play in shaping an individual’s character and coaches – at all levels – hold much in their hands with the responsibility for their part in this.

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