I have been very fortunate to have some great influences in my life. I have had numerous family members, friends, and others help me out and show me the way. I was also blessed to have several incredible coaches when I was younger. They not only taught me the sport, but they taught me about life.
There are two coaches that I will probably always remember. One was a youth soccer coach and one was a high school football coach/ strength coach.
The soccer coach taught me two important lessons:
- Work hard – As young kids, we probably ran more sprints than other teams that we played against. While hard work isn’t always fun, it is necessary to get you better. We learned to accept that and we had good teams as a result.
- Nothing is given – I had my first sports injury experience while playing soccer. I hurt my knee and the doctor had me sit out for two weeks. I had been a starting forward before the injury. My first game back I was told that I was going to be a starting midfielder. I said “Coach, I’ve never played midfield. I play forward.” His reply, “You’ve been out hurt and you lost your spot. You have to earn it back.” That may have been the hardest I ever played in my life. By the second half, I had my spot back at forward. Lesson learned.
From the football coach, I learned too many things to count:
- Hard Work – As a player, I learned even more about the importance of hard work and never slacking off. I also realized how many people don’t like hard work.
- Structure – I was also very fortunate to be part of a well-structured strength training program. There was an intelligent plan and we followed it. It took me awhile to realize how rare this is in high school programs, even today.
- Program Implementation – Later in life, I got to work with my former coach for 8+ years. He taught me an incredible amount about designing and implementing programs as well as many of the finer details of strength training. He did a great job teaching and explaining why certain exercises should be done a certain way. He also made sure that the whole program was sound and done correctly.
- Working Around Injuries- One of the greatest things that I learned was how to work around an injury when training an athlete. I really learned to look for alternative exercises instead of just having an injured athlete sit out.
- Faith – I also have to give him credit for teaching me about many things other than coaching. Tops on the list has to be all that I learned from him about my faith.
After thinking through all of the things that I learned from these coaches, what is the most important life lesson that I learned? It has to be to do things the right way. In life and in coaching, it is important to do things with integrity, to work hard, to not slack off, and to do your best. Every day we can find examples in the news and in our own lives of people not doing things the right way. It’s easy to avoid adding your name to that list – just do things the right way.