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How to Win

Lectures and Love

My friend/colleague Gary Pritchard and I each attended a national coaching convention over the weekend.

Gary came back brimming with soccer tips from Philadelphia, while I had the pleasure of mingling with lacrosse coaches in Baltimore. And each of us returned with an “L.”

Gary talked about the three practice killers: Laps, lines and lectures. Of the three, I can most relate to lectures. Most coaches talk too much. I certainly do, and so do lots of coaches.

What purpose is to be gained by talking endlessly at practice, while eyes glaze over? Most of the athletes have just finished a long day in school, where they heard more lectures than they ever needed. And now, when they would love to run and have fun, they must stand there while the coach discusses the entire history of sport (with footnotes).

The worst example of this occurred one day during softball practice at our school, where the coach was unhappy with the previous day’s practice. She spent the entire practice discussing what went wrong yesterday. And she did this on a beautiful spring day, which is a precious resource in the Northeast.

My tidbit came in the form of the word “love.” I ran into a coach who used to be a surgeon. And here she was attending a convention, trying to learn about coaching lacrosse.

Sometimes as coaches we wonder why we do it. With the disappointing losses, the long bus rides, and crazy parents, we wonder why we do it. Then we remember. It’s because we love it.

“Coaching is among life’s greatest pleasures,” says my friend and mentor Dr. Carl McGown. The highs are high, and the lows are low. But nothing matches seeing an athlete grow because of your influence.

And that is why this former surgeon had driven 100 miles to sit in a lecture hall. And that is why, at my school, a former rock promoter and a former stock broker spend their afternoons out on the field.

Hopefully they are not talking too much!


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