Reigniting the Fire
By Wes Simmons

There is a relatively new phenomenon sweeping across the sports landscape in America. It’s called, “12-year-old burnout.” According to a recent poll by the National Alliance for Youth Sports, 70% of kids in the U.S. quit playing sports before the age of 13 because, according to the kids, “It’s no longer fun.” This is the unintended consequence of taking an adult model of hyper-competitive athletics, one that WE don’t handle very well at times, and imposing it on our kids at younger and younger ages. The joy is being lost in the journey, and the kids are burning out.

Young athletes aren’t the only ones who are throwing in the towel though. It’s becoming increasingly difficult for athletic directors to retain quality coaches over the long-haul. Here is a short video clip where I discuss, albeit in part, why this seems to be the case and what we can do to empower coaches to persevere through the pressures that come with coaching today.

There has never been a more difficult time to coach than right now. There has never been a more rewarding time to coach than right now either! However, we must first help coaches define WHY they coach.

Recently, we came across the story of a softball coach in Virginia who was teetering on the brink of burnout. Here is his story:

A few years back, after some humbling experiences, I had to finally admit to myself that I was not the best option to inspire and lead young athletes. After all, we were hovering right around .500 and we couldn’t close out close games. Heck, we hadn’t even made it into a final in a tournament yet. We were losing too much, and it was my fault. The more I talked about how I hated losing, and the more I conveyed that to our athletes, the more it seemed to happen. So, I devised my exit plan.

Little did I know, after becoming exposed to the 3D Coaching training, 3D became a monkey wrench in my exit plan. By going through the 3D Coach book, and then the 3D Coaching Course for Certification, I began to realize that there was a different way, a BETTER way to coach these young athletes. Though winning and losing will still be measured on the scoreboard, I began to see that there are much more important wins and losses that are not measured in points.

We started passing these lessons on to our young athletes with a focus on character development and team building. We stopped focusing on the winning and losing and we started to focus on the more important things like: building relationships, loving the sport, loving our teammates, and honoring/appreciating our God-given talents and abilities. We also started emphasizing the need to give back through community service.

The next thing we knew, as if out of the clear blue sky, something very strange happened. We started winning both on AND off the field! However, to win OFF the field it requires us to focus on the fundamentals in all 3Dimensions; Body, Mind and Spirit.

While coaching will always be a roller coaster, I’m no longer focused on my exit plan. Rather, now I focus on how I can improve every day to help young athletes achieve their goals.

This coach rekindled his fire by discovering his WHY behind the X’s and O’s. In the planning phase of the 3D Coaching Course for Certification course, he defined his transformational purpose as:

To inspire athletes to love their sport, honor each other’s efforts, and have a commitment to excellence that extends well beyond the field of play.

Now, he has a filter for every interaction and activity that takes place within his program. He also has strategies in all 3Dimensions to help him fulfill his stated purpose. This has produced a change in culture, and the results are taking care of themselves as a byproduct.

If we want to reignite the passion of coaches to coach and athletes to play, the most logical place to start is to help the coaches to define their why. When we know WHY we do what we do, our “how” and our “what” has more impact.

1 thought on “Reigniting the Fire”

  1. I know Coach Sowa and 3D Coaching has had a huge impact not just on his coaching, but his life. What is even more exciting is that he is early in his journey and the best is yet to come.

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