Every year, thousands of athletes graduate from college with their shiny degrees and youthful idealism. For some, they are 100% sure they want to go into coaching so they get the position as graduate assistant and begin their ascent. For them that makes sense and I understand their motives. On the other hand, there are some athletes that have no desire to coach, yet find themselves in a coaching position because it “seems like a good idea”. Of course it does. They were a star player or above average so what else would they do right? Here’s the thing, there are a lot of great coaches out there that are in it for the right reasons and do a very good job. Then, there are those that are clearly unhappy, but they’ve been an athlete their whole life so they didn’t want to take the time to explore anything else. They decide to settle into a career they don't even care about.
there are some athletes that have no desire to coach, yet find themselves in a coaching position because it “seems like a good idea”
My mom can attest to this, but I never wanted to be a coach. So many people would ask me if I was coaching and I'd say no and they were almost offended that I didn't want to. HOW DARE YOU not want to! It just didn't appeal to me. I like the action on the court and the competitive atmosphere, but being on the sideline wasn’t my jam. Also, I'm not the kind of person that can strategically coach a game ( I know myself). Sidebar: My coach brought me in her office one day and told me point blank that I was going to make a great coach… I remember nodding and thinking to myself “ I have no desire to do what you do”. That may rub some people the wrong way, but even though I didn’t know what I wanted to do, I knew it wasn’t that.
I was talking to one of my friends that is coaching at a D1 school now and she was going over her schedule and explaining to me about the practices and the other miscellaneous aspects and it made me wince. A few years ago I started this whole path to “enlightenment” so to speak. Wanting to discover my purpose and core message, I didn’t want to just fall into something… again. After much deliberation, in the spirit of trial and error I decided to coach a middle school team after being asked by a coworker. I didn’t hate it, but I didn’t love it. It didn't give me the swirl though.It was just aight. So I thought, do I want to keep doing this if it's just aight? I decided I didn't and continued on my quest. Another time I had dinner with a friend and we talked shop a little bit about the old AAU days and she suggested that I do some personal skills training. One thing I like doing is trying new things so I got my first client and I trained her for a month. Let’s look at the pros and cons of this (because in hindsight I was getting closer to my core message) Pro: The girl that I trained asked my if I would do it based on what she knew and based on my character. Con: I’m not great at breaking a skill down to it’s moving parts. When I was a player I could just do things. Pro: I got to spend a lot of time with her individually working on her attitude and confidence in herself. Con: I was more interested in her personal development than I was at the skill development which was the whole point lol.
"I didn’t hate it, but I didn’t love it. It didn't give me the swirl though.It was just aight. So I thought, do I want to keep doing this if it's just aight? I decided I didn't and continued on my quest".
In the end her mom said that she could notice a difference in her behavior and confidence in herself on the court as well as off. That was a thrilling phone call to have! I was pumped! Ultimately, I knew that it wasn't what I wanted to do. So we didn't re-up for future sessions.
Even though I didn't continue, I’m glad that I had those experiences because I would not have known that I didn’t want to do them if I hadn’t tried. However, it did leave me with an important lesson. If you do something the doesn’t matter to you, you are going to half-ass it and that’s not a coach I’d want to play for. I had to be self-aware enough to recognize my shortcomings and look at my strengths. I was good at building confidence and helping her push herself to not settle for aight and terrible at showing her how to do a reverse layup lol. All that to say, there is nothing wrong if you played basketball or ran track or played softball and when it’s over you don’t want to turn around and be a coach. It doesn’t minimize the love you had for the game or the lessons that you gained through participation (those are lessons and characteristics are actually quite valuable to anything else you choose to pursue). Where does that leave us then…?
"If you do something the doesn’t matter to you, you are going to half-ass it"
Those people stuck in the middle? We don’t want to coach, but we also haven't thought about the EXATHLETE life either. That is for you to decide and it starts with figuring out what matters to you, then working like hell to realize it.
Do you know a player that doesn't want to coach, but is equally unsure of what to do after they stop playing? Please share this with them. Also comment below with your thoughts on players becoming coaches I'd love to hear your take on it!