Frustrated Coaches

By Mark Hull

Not long ago, a top level women’s basketball coach left the coaching profession out of sheer frustration. On her way out she told us why:

“Kids are not as coachable as they were years ago,” she told the Associated Press. “I see kids sometimes talking back to their coaches and it’s like a way of life. I’m just being honest. The rules and everything they get, they haven’t taken time to appreciate. I was happy to have a scholarship. Kids nowadays are more concerned about when their next cost-of-attendance check is. It’s just a different world. Maybe I’m old school. It’s not necessarily what I signed up for and I’m not going to adjust my coaching to the way kids are these days. That’s how it is these days, coaches having to adjust to kids, rather than kids having to adjust to coaches.”

We can’t pretend to know the specific situations that elicited this blanket judgement of her athletes. We do know this: she’s not happy and it’s her athletes’ fault!

Frustration comes from unmet expectations. She had certain expectations of her athletes, expectations that she believed they would willfully submit to because of her title of “coach” and their involvement in sport. Instead of understanding that trust is built by cultivating relationships, she expected it to come from her title. “In my day…” becomes the scapegoat statement. Coaches, times have changed. It’s NOT our day anymore and we need to deal with it!

This coach’s “my way or the highway” approach led her to take the highway. If our mentality is that we coach a sport, athletes just seem to get in the way! But when our focus is on coaching athletes, the sport becomes the primary means to reach into their lives.

There once was a day when coaches had almost all of the power. That day is long gone. Right or wrong, it is our present reality. Power can and will be abused, so it’s important to remember that positional power is not the same as the power that comes from relational trust. It seems that this coach loved the power of position, instead of positioning herself in the power of love.

The sun has already come up on a new day in coaching. Through our 3D Coaching training, we want to help coaches walk in the light of this new day. How do we motivate the 21st century athlete? How do we develop confidence as a “belief in skills” instead of the prevalent false self-esteem that seems to be a belief in belief itself? Can athletes and coaches be both great and good? Do we have a clearly defined transformational purpose that acts as a foundation for our coaching? This foundation of PURPOSE is crucial if we are to successfully carry the weight of the pressures that come with coaching today.

Check out this short video where Athletic Director Lindsay Carlile shares the impact that her coaches are having with athletes by taking a 3Dimensional approach.

While it may be true that there has never been a more difficult time to coach than in the 21st Century, we also believe there has never been a more rewarding time to coach either. However, the reward only becomes ascertainable when we change our perspective. When we begin to see our athletes in all three dimensions, and then develop strategies to engage them accordingly, we will become agents of transformation in their lives and leave a powerful legacy of impact. That reward is priceless.


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  1. Within the next week I’ll have completed my 31st year in full time public school teaching, mostly at the middle school level. Outside the classroom, I have a younger son and have been navigating the turbulent waters of youth recreation and travel sports, coming to the realization that I needed help in coaching if I was going to be effective. The 3D framework is vital training. Beyond the coaching, league administration issues become much clearer, and I see the root causes of a high misery index in travel sports. Take the time to go through the course, it’s vital for our spiritual significance and purpose in coaching. Thank you for providing this framework through the North Jersey Fellowship of Christian Athletes.

  2. I love it, It makes sense to me.
    I have a great job where we have an amazing purpose and we work harder than most because we have that common bond of something bigger than ourselves or our singular strength. I can see this working in the coaching realm.
    I love the journey, looking forward to infecting all I can with love and tenacity.

  3. There is a profound difference between one’s purpose and one’s goals. Purpose is ongoing and self-generating and motivating. Goals once achieved are done and then you must establish a new goal in order to move forward. Purpose is internal and eternal! Goals are external mile posts that measure the distance you have achieved on your journey. Discovering Purpose is transforming, completing goals is transactional.

    We need to complete our goals and reset them daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly! But our Purpose in life is much bigger, more profound, and life nourishing! Be on purpose, then do!

  4. This is my 4th year coaching and 11th teaching. The challenges of coaching are unreal. Middle school year around coaching is fun, but also challenging and a lot. I need the wind back in my sails and hopefully summer will provide that. As I reflect back on the year I feel good about holding kids accountable with grades and behavior. Having athletes sign a contract and knowing expectations was key. I feel good about ending every practice with kids encouraging each other. I loved the coaches and kids I worked with this year. Here is the truth if I am being selfless and doing my best and putting the kids first in my own way I will let the chips fall where they may. Fight the good fight and love the journey.

  5. It is not only important that we find and are able to articulate our purpose, but we must also help our athletes find theirs. We should also revisit on a regular basis for it can change for us and our athletes.