My Foundation for Surviving in Coaching

Kevin Oxley, Tecumseh High School, Lynnville, IN

Just having completed my 37th year of coaching, the first nine as an assistant and the last twenty-eight as head coach (and unbelievably, all at the same school), I am frequently asked by young coaches, “Why and how do you still do it?”.  The “why” is easy; I still enjoy the challenge of practice and the excitement of game night.  All coaches look forward to these.  It is the “how” that several coaches usually struggle with the most.  It is more about establishing and keeping priorities than anything else.  The game is simple; the life around it sometimes is not.  Basketball is a game based on the execution of fundamentals and a good balance in these four fundamental areas usually provides a coach a solid foundation.

Fundamental #1:  FAITH / HUMBLENESS – It is by God’s grace that we get to do this job and to Him belongs the glory.  We do very little in life on our own.  I was taught early in life; appreciate success, don’t celebrate it. 

Fundamental #2:  FAMILY AND TEAM – Each of us knows how important our own children are, but as coaches, sometimes we forget.  We also need to realize that the members of our teams have to be treated as our children at times as well.  We have to find time to consider their individual needs as well as we do our own children’s needs.  Our time and attention are the most important things we can give to a child – whether that child is our own or a player.  Find the time to share your attention with your children and your players.  Let them know that they are important to you as individuals.

Fundamental #3:  IMPORTANCE OF CLASSROOM – A lot of us are hired as teachers as well as coaches.  Good coaches use the same skills in the gym as good teachers use in the classroom.  Every kid deserves our best effort whether it be in the classroom or in the gym.  Don’t waste an educational opportunity for a student/athlete… in the gym or in the classroom.  You can’t expect your student/athlete to give more effort than you do.  Prepare yourself to give your best and then give it.

Fundamental #4:  YOURSELF – You can’t coach like someone else and you can’t live like someone else.  You have to be yourself.  Players can sense when you are not real as well as your family members can.  You have to believe in what you are doing and do it as well as you can.  Accept the mistakes; appreciate the successes.  You also have to find time away from the game to relax, to recharge and to stay connected with your spouse/children… even during the season.  Your actions in these areas ultimately tell who you really are.  

Stay safe and I hope to see you on the court soon.

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