A teenage Lara posed, in their jerseys, with her high school volleyball team and her two coaches. #CoachesWeek. Spark Solutions.

#CoachesWeek – 3 Things My Coaches Taught Me

National #CoachesWeek celebrates the positive impact coaches have on athletes, participants, and communities across Canada. This week is an opportunity to recognize coaches for the integral role they play by saying #ThanksCoach. To celebrate National #CoachesWeek, I’m sharing three things I learned from my coaches that have stuck with me through life.

Focusing on Process Over Results

I played competitive volleyball when I was in high school. Our team set a goal to win provincials in our division in my grade 12 year. At our home tournament, we hosted a full slate of very competitive teams. We won our pool and playoff games and found ourselves in the final against a team that was considered one of the best in the province. Every available space of the gym that wasn’t the court was filled with spectators. The atmosphere was electric. We played our hearts out. One team won the first set 25-23 (I don’t even remember who). The other team won the second set 26-24. We went to a third set and traded points back and forth. In the end, we lost 15-13.

I still remember what my coach said after the game. He said we couldn’t be mad at ourselves about losing when we laid everything out on the court and gave it our best effort. When we give our best effort, we can’t be upset with the results. The results may not be what we wanted, but the process is more important than the result.

Do Things Well, Not Perfectly

Our school also offered badminton and I wanted to play. I have pretty poor hand-eye coordination. There’s no other way to say it. In grades 6 and 7, our school offered Junior Junior badminton and I participated. My skills were poor and I won very few games. Once while on the court, I tripped myself with my racket. In grade 8, I should have moved up to Junior badminton and joined the travelling league. I knew that I would be a poor match against other athletes and would lose every game. So I asked if I could play in the Junior Junior program again. I got permission to play and I enjoyed it. It was a positive experience because I found it fun and not because I wanted to win. Winning isn’t everything. It’s also ok to participate in something because you do it well, but not perfectly.

Have Respect for Your Competitor

A new phys. ed. teacher joined our school when I was in grade 7 and we formed a small but mighty basketball team with 8 players. There were some very competitive teams in our division and they used their experience and large numbers of players to run us into the ground. It wasn’t fun to get such few points and lose by so much. We were discouraged, but we played on. As we practiced and played, we gained experience and became competitive with those teams. A few years later, a new team formed and came to play at our school. And you know what? We did to that team what had been done to us. We ran them hard, we banked up a big lead early on, and we made that game not fun. 

At the break, our coach was mad and didn’t mince on words. He reminded us how we had felt only a few years earlier – how we’d been discouraged and wanted to quit. We contributed to their negative playing experience and the experience might have been so negative that they wanted to quit. We should have had more respect for our competitor and played in such a way that we could both enjoy the game. It’s likely that we would have still won even if we eased up and they would have better enjoyed the game. I felt terrible and I’ve never done that again. This was a hard lesson to learn but it’s one that’s fundamentally changed my view on sport. 

Most of my coaches have had a positive impact on my life. Some of my coaches had a negative impact, but there were still lessons learned. This #CoachesWeek, say thanks to a coach who has made a positive impact on your life.

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