I am not sure most professional coaches fully understand their role in educating their athletes. Many fell into the role of coach due to their love of children and of course the sport itself. Step by step the enormous responsibility unfolded before us.
Coaching = Educating.
Sport provides us with the perfect classroom but it is not the related teaching of physical skills that should fill the curriculum. It is the life lessons that can be learned that make sports so valuable.
Twistars upper level athletes have just finished a 5 chapter course on developing and building a strong mind. These tools will be invaluable not only in assisting the athlete with better training and performance BUT also as tools that can be used in life outside of the gym … forever.
Dr. Allison Arnold’s, The 5 Rings of Mental Toughness will serve us all well. The rings are:
- Awareness– being aware of the thoughts that control your actions, being aware of goals and how to achieve them, being aware of attitudes and how they can impact training and performance.
- Vision– What we put energy into will grow. Knowing who we want to be as an athlete and a person is our Vision. Working to become your Vision is the goal.
- Discipline– This is key to achieving anything worth while. Disciplining the mind is as important as the body and requires just as much attention. Learning to control your
thoughts and actions through the use of key “mental choreography”words is essential.
- Perseverance– This creates the difference between good and great. The ability to get through a tough day, a bad situation or rough event is a great life lesson tool.
- Belief– This is the ring that holds all the other rings together. Believing in the power of the mind and the process for training it will create not only a better athlete but a better person. Believing in yourself is one of the most important life lessons that sports can teach.
As coaches it is our responsibility to instill these qualities in our athletes.
Educating the athlete on the power of the psychological mind through participating in sports is time well spent. Athletes will automatically be able to draw parallels between sports experiences, struggles and achievements with those in every day life occurrences.
Studies show that athletes are much more likely to be stronger academically when they have above average coaching experiences.
I think it is important to remind our members from time to time that we are not simply in the teaching flips and cartwheel business. We are good at that but more due to the process of instilling confidence in our athletes than any other top secret training idea. We attempt to educate all of our athletes as we are fully aware that when the chalk dust settles on their gymnastics careers, there are far more important goals and achievements to add to the resume.
The education does not stop with the mental training. We continuously encourage proper manners, work ethic, and respect for others. We are teaching sound health and well being habits which include personal hygiene, sleep and nutritional practices. Sports involvement enforces time management education and the prioritization of the real important things in life (family, friends, school). We encourage a balance in life in that when the sand in our hour glass runs out, we simply can not turn it over and start again.
Sure commitment to your sport is important if you ever expect to attain an upper level status, but under no circumstances is your sport ever more important than your family, your friends, your education or YOU.
Accountability is a disappearing character trait. Being held accountable for actions or inactions is going to be part of life. Living up to standards and expectations is something present in every profession known to man. Teaching these concepts within a sports setting is the best benefit of sport.
Some of the lessons might seem to be sports specific like mental imagery (seeing yourself doing a skill correctly), Goals setting, anxiety control, attention focus etc. BUT if we examine the principles we soon see a broad score of uses that can be applied outside of the gym.
Education is not merely accomplished in the school.
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