Understanding is the Basis of Care
By Wes Simmons

I’ll never forget my inaugural coaching stint as a youth softball coach. I had the privilege of coaching my daughter’s 6U tee ball team and I was excited to get the season started. As the first pre-season practice began, it quickly became evident to me that my 1st Dimension coaching abilities would be put to the test.

I thought we would start practice with some very simple drills to see where the girls were at fundamentally. The first drill was very basic. I told the girls, “I’m going to roll you a ground ball. Your job is to stop the ball with your glove and then throw the ball back to me. Got it?” The girls nodded in affirmation that they understood the drill.

Our first challenge was to make sure that all of the girls had their gloves on the proper hands. Out of twelve girls on the team, I only had to switch around a couple of them. I took this as an encouraging sign! The first girl in line stepped up confidently, bent her knees, and got into a ready position. As I rolled the ball, she moved her feet to get in front of the ball and stopped the slow roller with good form (relatively speaking).

I thought to myself, “So far, so good!”

As it turned out, my instructions were not specific enough. She then proceeded to leave the ball in the glove on her left hand (she was right-handed) and throw it back to me using the glove like a lacrosse stick. Off came the glove with the ball wedged in the pocket. Together, the ball and glove traveled about five feet in the air before hitting the ground and popping the ball out. Because she didn’t fully grasp the purpose of the glove, she misused the glove.

Here’s the point: If we don’t know the purpose of something, we will misuse it, abuse it, and/or frustrate the original purpose of it.

What’s true about athletic equipment is also true about our athletes, only with greater consequences. If we don’t define our purpose in coaching, the sports culture will seek to define it for us, and that dictated purpose will always be about WINNING. Winning is a great goal to have in sports, but we can’t afford to confuse our goals with our purpose.

Winning is a wrongly defined purpose for sports. If our supreme purpose is all about winning, it will almost always pressure us to misuse, abuse and/or frustrate our players in our pursuit of championships. If winning is the highest priority of sports, then there will be times where relationships are compromised by necessity. When this occurs, here are a couple of the unintended consequences:

  1. We pass on a life lesson to our athletes that “winning” truly is the only bottom line that matters. We model that “winning” is more important than relationships, even if our words say otherwise.
    -or-
  2. Our players will feel misused, abused, and frustrated. All of these descriptors fuel the negative-harmful emotions that hinder peak performance.

A win-at-all-costs sports culture is the result of an unhealthy obsession with the bottom-line objectives of the 1st Dimension. However, the answer is NOT to quit pursuing excellence at coaching the 1st Dimension. That is still a very important part of our jobs as coaches! Rather, the answer is to begin intentionally engaging the hearts and minds of our athletes. To do this effectively, it will require some new understanding. Understanding is the basis of care.

At the 3D Institute, we desire to increase the understanding of coaches so they can care well for their athletes and maximize their influence for good. Watch this short video clip where Mark Hull shares the three things we believe every coach needs to understand if they desire to fulfill their transformational purpose.


Our online 3D Coaching Course for Certification and/or Course for College Credit will thoroughly train you to not only understand HOW to engage your athletes in all 3Dimensions, but WHY it is necessary like never before. Take the 3D Coaching journey and empower yourself to make a tremendous difference in the lives of those you lead.

2 thoughts on “Understanding is the Basis of Care”

  1. I am the Athletic Director at Junction City High School in Junction City Oregon. How do you initiate this for a coaching staff and what is the approximate cost?

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