A letter to Coach from an athlete’s perspective
You’re more than just a coach. You potentially have more influential power in my life than anyone else I meet in this world. It doesn’t matter how old I am, I look up to you. It doesn’t matter how old you are, I value your words. I trust you with my biggest dreams.
You’ve got a great responsibility, Coach. I need you to step up to the plate. You can’t take your job lightly. Going through the motions isn’t going to cut it. Consider your motives before you accept the position. If you half-ass your job, you’re hurting me, your athlete. You’re taking away another person’s opportunity to make an impact on my life. Frankly, if you’re in it for the wins, the glory, or the money, then you’re a sorry example of a coach.
Coach, here’s what you need to know about me. I’m invested. I want to see how far my body can go. I want to test the limits, but I can’t do it alone. I need your guidance. Lead me. I need your support. Encourage me. I need your motivation. Push me. If you do these things, I’ll pour out all the blood, sweat, and tears necessary.
I see the sacrifices you make. I know you could have left practice an hour ago, but you stuck around to help me. Yes, this extra time may have led to a performance breakthrough, but it did something even greater than that too. You showed me that I’m worth it and that I’m important. I’ll remember that for years. Your actions spoke to me. They built up my confidence and self-worth.
The same thing goes for the times you pulled me aside to address an individual issue. Because you cared enough to notice, I took your advice. I can tell I’m not just a number to you. Therefore, your words are valuable beyond measure.
If you treat me right, I respect you. You may never realize just how much I respect you. I don’t always portray it, but in my heart, I have much reverence for you. Your accolades are irrelevant. It’s not about that. My respect is thanks to your effort, investment, and attention. I’m sorry to say this, Coach, but it’s easy for me to lose my respect for you. I hold you to a high standard. Like I said, my dreams are partially in your hands. If you don’t appreciate those goals or show that you’re invested, my respect fades down to nothing.
Coach, please stand up for me. Fight for me. If somebody else doesn’t have my best interest in mind, defend me. This will garner my loyalty. Knowing that you will put your foot down for my needs goes a long way. Not only will I trust you more, but I will work even harder for you. You better believe that I’ll have your back when teammates talk bad about you.
I beg you, Coach, don’t give up on me. When it seems like I will never catch on, don’t lose enthusiasm. When I seem like a flop, don’t reject me. When I fight psychological battles, don’t assume I’ll never figure it out. There is nothing more painful than having a coach quit on me. As you lose belief, I lose belief. At first, it may only show up in my athletic career, but I’ll battle that situation for years to come. If even the person most invested in my goals didn’t think I could do it, I must be pretty useless.
Hang in there, Coach. I’m trying. Sometimes I just need time to break through. Keep the faith. The moment you start to lose it, I can sense it.
This may be the toughest part of your job, but the reality of the matter is that I’m going to mess up sometimes. Stand by me through these mess-ups. I’m not talking about the mess-ups where I miss the basket or strike-out. I’m talking about the life mess-ups. Yeah, you may be disappointed, but please forgive me. Not only that, but talk me through it. Help me see where I took a wrong turn. Use these opportunities as teaching moments.
You’re going to mess up too. Shoot, your mess-ups may even be detrimental to me. Don’t try and sweep them under the rug. Even worse, don’t try to blame-shift. If you own them, I’m going to appreciate your honesty. I might be mad, but a mess-up here and there is not even close to enough to overpower my respect for you.
Do not ever talk about me behind my back. Well, okay, you can say good things. NEVER say something bad or complain about me. The moment I find out, our relationship has a serious crack in it. If you’ve got a problem with me, say it to my face. It may hurt, but I’ll get over it and probably be a better person for it.
That being said, be honest with me. The truth may hurt, but that wake-up call could make a huge difference in my life. I don’t expect you to be my friend. I don’t expect you to be my parent. You are the most influential person in my life right now though, so use your power to make me into a better person. I have no problem holding you to high standards, so do the same for me. Hold me accountable, but don’t be constantly looking over my shoulder.
Lead by example. You better believe I’m observing your actions. I see how you handle that bad call. I see how you handle that loss. You don’t have to be emotional-less, but be appropriate. If you slam your clipboard because I missed a foul-shot, you’re teaching me that the only thing that matters is the win. So much as an eye-roll can crush my confidence. You tell me to trust in the process even during the hardest of times. You better be doing the same.
Choose your words carefully. I’m going to take to heart whatever you tell me. I’ll remember your words for my entire life, so proceed with caution. Our deep conversations will transform into life-guiding ideas. You can heavily influence my character and my dreams. If you put negative thoughts into my head, it may really damage my resilience. Please, Coach, watch your words.
Coach, I feel like we are on this journey together. I want to perform well for you. When we accomplish a hard-earned task, celebrate with me. It shows me that you’re passionate. I’m often waiting for your reaction, so let it out once in a while!
Hopefully, you understand how valuable you are in my life. When I move on from the sport, I take a part of you with me. Even if we don’t keep in touch, my athletic experience will shape my life. You may have the most important job ever. Doctors may save lives, but you make positive transformations too. Teachers may give us an education, but you give us wisdom too. When you accept the name “Coach”, you are taking on immense responsibility. Your duties go far beyond the field. You change lives.