What truly makes an effective coach?

Published 12:00 am Saturday, May 29, 2004

Suffolk News-Herald

This Sunday, readers of the Suffolk News-Herald will be able to check out a feature in the USA Weekend insert discussing the America’s Most Caring Coach awards.

To relate the story locally, let’s talk to some of the city’s coaches and athletes to get their impression on what truly makes a caring, effective coach…

Email newsletter signup


Nancy Richy (Nansemond River basketball, volleyball): &uot;Other than knowledge of the game and being able to communicate and being a good motivator, being an effective coach also has to do with caring for your kids on and off the court in their academics and any kind of conflicts they may have where they need someone to talk to. Coaches should be able to act as a sounding board, or put their kids in a direction where they can find help. That’s why I’ve been coaching for so long.&uot;

Gabe Rogers (Nansemond River wrestling): &uot;My kids have always wrestled hard for me. I don’t know if there’s a distinguished factor, but there has to be a sense of discipline, but you also allow yourself to be somebody they can confide in and relate with them, not just for athletics, but for life in general. Somewhere along the way, if you work with a kid long enough, you start to be more than a coach to a kid, When my kids come through the doors to the wrestling room, I tell them I love them for doing it. When you explain what you expect, that they’re performing the best they can do, they can respond. If they don’t have any goals, they’re going to be confused. You have to have some direction, let them know hard work is appreciated.&uot;

Tara Worley (Lakeland softball, field hockey): &uot;An effective coach is one with not only knowledge, but experience, with dedication and a commitment to the sport, a love for the game. Coaching nowadays is not just going out on the field and dealing with kids. A lot of times, you have to deal with other aspects, like there not being enough money to have all the equipment, or dealing with parents that aren’t happy. If you don’t love what you do, you’re not going to stay in it very long. Coaches have to always willing to learn, because you never know it all. You have to adjust to the way the games change.&uot;

Don Birmingham (NSA basketball, lacrosse): &uot;You have to be enthusiastic, knowledgeable, be a good teacher, and enjoy the sports you coach. You have to put a lot of time and effort into it, or else the other things won’t come, and you won’t like what you’re doing.&uot;


Kristi Fontenot (Nansemond River cheerleading): &uot;Someone who wants the best to progress, even if they don’t say it in nicest way. Someone who shares their knowledge with you, and who supports the team whether they win or lose.&uot;

Katelyn Smither (Lakeland softball, field hockey): &uot;I think it’s important for them to establish a place where you know how far you can push them to their limit. When you cross the line, you know that there’s going to be consequences, so coaches have to draw the line as to how far a player can push them. A coach has to be respected by a player. It isn’t something automatically there; it has to be earned over time. If you enforce the way things need to be run, the kids are going to respect you. Discipline is a major factor; if you don’t enforce it, it’s not worth it in the end. Players aren’t going to want to push themselves to the limit every day if they don’t have to. If you’re disciplined, you know what you have to do every day.

Katelyn Yandle (Nansemond River field hockey, soccer): &uot;A coach who grows to know the player and their ability. By talking to them, kids know that a coach cares enough to get involved in a players life, and it makes players like a coach more.&uot;

Eric Ruffin (Lakeland football, basketball): A coach that teaches, but also listens to what players have to say, and combines that into a lesson. One who doesn’t just say, ‘You do this, you do that.’ When you take what they say and add it to what they get from the team, you get a winning piece.&uot;

Ryan Johnson (NSA baseball, basketball, football): &uot;Coaches that use

hands-on training, and their experience as well. They’ve been there, and they know how things can develop, so they can tell us from experience. You learn easier when you see things being done, instead of just being told. The coaches that really get down and show you how to do it makes it easier to comprehend.&uot;