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PCA Updates

7 Coach Tips for Returning to Sports Right Now

by Kelly Kratz


As we get back to sports after a nearly 12 month hiatus in many places around the United States, here are some of the resources we have acquired, researched, tested and have shared with our coaches, athletes and parents when “Returning to Sports”:

For Coaches

How to support your athletes as they transition back to in person teams: 

1. Listen with Empathy! (Never Starts with “At Least”) 

“It’s OK to be frustrated, we know you have not played in a while... It’s  understandable  you feel this way.”  

The power of empathy: I’m in it with you. I’m not here to fix you. I’m here to feel with you and let you know you’re not alone. ~Brene Brown

2. Practice GRATITUDE with your team

The research on gratefulness is clear; it makes you better at whatever you are doing. Help athletes reframe to a mindset of what they “HAVE" instead of "WHAT THEY’VE LOST”. Here are a few tips on how Teammates Can Practice Gratitude And Improve Overall Team Chemistry from PCA National Advisory Board Member Dacher Keltner.

3. Remember that sports teaches us life lessons

You’re the kind of person who is resilient and has really overcome the adversity in the past year.”  Use the life lessons that the athletes have learned during the pandemic to learn and grow athletically, emotionally and personally. We have great power to shape the way our children think about themselves. Through the thoughtful use of “You’re-the-kind-of-person-who” statements, we can help them begin to think of themselves as capable people with positive character traits.

4. Recognize different degrees of impact

This last year has been very traumatic for some and a welcomed break for others. Make a point of connecting with each athlete individually so as to not make assumptions that everyone had the same experience. Consider having individual player check-ins. If you notice any behavior that is ‘off’ reach out to the student athlete first, parent, counselor etc. Depression and anxiety are at an all-time high with teens right now. 

5. Continue to be a trusted resource for your athletes

Your athletes may have no one else to go to for support. 

6. Remain neutral and factual

Kids have had so many disappointments in the past year. Keep things simple. Stick with what you KNOW, not what you think is going to happen in the next few months. 

7. Take care of your own mental & emotional health

When pouring into others it is crucial that you have a support network in place for your own emotional health. Here are some self-care tips from our friends at Coaching Corps.

Some Additional Practical Tips and PCA Tools: 

  • Make Practice FUN!: Fun is the greatest motivator! Making up for ‘lost time’ with harsh drills and punishments will do more harm than good. 
  • Keep Emotional Tanks Full:  Remember the 5:1 Ratio: Every child deserves to have a positive coach!
  • Preseason Meeting with Athletes and Parents: Be very clear about your expectations, safety protocols and that, “We are all in this together and compliance is crucial so we can continue to play.”
  • Follow Health and Safety guidelines: Be the example to your players. If masks are mandatory, coaches must wear them too. Do not cut corners on this. 
  • Focus on “Leadership for ALL”: Look for leadership that has emerged while you were away from your team.  Don’t assume the ‘most talented players’ are the leaders. There might be a compassionate player that rises to leadership because that is what your team needs this season.

For more tangible, specific tools, check out our online courses for coaches, parents and athletes.

DGC coaching for winning life (img)

Double-Goal Coach®: Coaching for Winning and Life Lessons

If you have no experience with PCA, this is the course for you... Positive is Powerful! In this highly-interactive online Double-Goal Coach® course from PCA – with advice from top pro athletes and coaches on PCA’s National Advisory Board – coaches explore why and how to pursue both winning and the more important goal of teaching life lessons through sports.

DGC Culture Practices Games (img)

Double-Goal Coach®: Culture, Practices and Games

Phil Jackson, Doc Rivers, Herm Edwards and other top coaches and athletes help you create a team culture of excellence. Specific sections of the course focus on how to create dynamic practices and strategies for getting the most from your athletes – as players and as people -- before, during and after the game.

DGC Developing Competitors (img)

Double-Goal Coach®: Developing the Triple-Impact Competitor®

Phil Jackson, Julie Foudy, Shane Battier, Herm Edwards and other top coaches and athletes train coaches to help high school athletes become "Triple-Impact Competitors" who improve on three levels: Personal Mastery – Making oneself better, Leadership – Making one's teammates better, and Honoring the Game – Making the game better.

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