This article originally appeared on blog.teamsnap.com and was inspired by my friends, CJ Stewart and Emmitt Smith
By Brad Jubin
The start of a new season is one of my favorite times of the year; you can see and feel the excitement and anticipation in the air. I agree with the statement, “You only get one chance to make a first impression,” and when it comes to team sports, the coach (or captain) must set the stage for a successful season at that first practice.
Every coach wants a team of players who trust, help, rely on and believe in each other, but how is that accomplished? The answer is: with goals!
Every person, regardless of age or skill level, wants to be successful. The first step in being successful is defining your goals. Otherwise, and as pastor Tony Evans says, “…you just might make it to the top of the ladder and find it was leaning against the wrong wall.” Or as my father once told me, “Any road will get you there if you don’t know where you’re going.”
To help start a season off successfully, have each player write down his/her goals on index cards with these three statements:
- My goal for this season is_________
- My personal goal for this year is_________
- My five-year goal is_________
Hand out the cards as part of your introductory talk at your first practice. Explain to the players that as the coach (or captain), you are committed to coaching each player individually as well as the team as a whole. Emphasize that it’s difficult for you to get the team to work together if you don’t know where they want to go as individuals. Ask the players to fill in the cards and return them to you at the next practice or game.
Here’s an amazing fact about individual goals: They rarely exist! There are very few goals that can be achieved without the help and support of others, either directly or indirectly. For instance, if a player wants to increase their scoring average, they need a few things to happen that will help them: solid practice with their teammates; encouragement and support on the bench; and as many opportunities to score as possible, which means help from their teammates. The list goes on, but you get the point. Establishing and writing down their personal goals will develop a team of players that will rally around each other and help each other achieve their goals.
Why the five-year goal? The five-year goal is the fun one. This goal will range from the absurd to the amazing. The main point of this goal is the question, not the answer. For youth athletes especially, it’s important to give players a perspective on growing up and working toward something big. So have fun with this one.
A team is a group of individuals that shares a common interest and Always Play IV Each Other in pursuit of it. Good luck and have a successful season.
Brad Jubin is a volunteer youth coach in Tyrone, Ga. Together with his family, Brad founded www.APIVEO.com. APIVEO (Always Play IV Each Other) is a registered 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that leverages Brad’s personal experiences as a youth coach to help other coaches teach kids about leadership and character through a series of fun and engaging lessons. For more thoughts on youth sports from Brad Jubin, be sure to check out our podcast interview with him, “Developing Leaders in Youth Sports.”