I was very fortunate as a 20-year-old kid to have a former high school basketball coach ask me to join his staff. I began coaching and immediately started to picture how down the road I would be known as one the greats. I had it all figured it out. Luckily for me, I started at the freshman B level and was humbled immediately by what it really takes to be great.
Working with young men at the freshman level through the varsity level is more mental than anything else. These young athletes have more going on in their lives than anyone realizes and as a coach you serve the role of father, friend, advisor, and confidant to name just a few. It is an honor to have a young man come to you for help because it shows they have a confidence that you have their best interest at heart. My former head coach showed me that honor by giving me my coaching opportunity. He wanted to instill confidence in each of his players.
There is energy in the room before a game where players wait for the coaches. Each game has a different feel. There are no guaranteed wins, but some games hold more meaning than others. Often times in those pre-game speeches before important games he would ask the players, “Do you feel that energy inside of you. Do you feel that inside of your stomach? That’s not nervousness. Nervousness means that you are unprepared for the task at hand. That is excitement! You are full of excited energy because you have practiced smart and hard and you are fully prepared for the challenge tonight!” It was such a simple thing to say, but I can still see the confidence and focus the players exuded after he would say it.
My final project as an undergrad was to create a coaching portfolio. At that point, I had shifted my focus to training athletes instead of coaching a specific sport. My mentor encouraged me to make it my own and reflect on what I truly believed was most important. I would discuss strength programs and specific lifts with him, but in the end it always came back to caring for the athletes and wanting them to succeed. The head coach understood that confident players succeed, but how do we create confident athletes. I created my coaching portfolio not with x’s and o’s but, how I want to develop a culture of confidence in a program to help young athletes in sport and beyond….to be continued.
By: Steve Breitenstein