09.27.2017 Have The Conversation
Approaching this Father’s Day, Positive Coaching Alliance and Dove Men+Care have partnered to celebrate all the men who are there to care for others.
For Fathers and Father Figures Who Are #ThereToCare
By Jim Thompson
My father, William Thompson, retired to Seattle in a house numbered 1265, which symbolized his life. He delighted in telling me he had gone to work in the North Dakota wheat fields with his father, Joseph, at age 12, retiring when he was 65.
Each year as Father’s Day approaches I enjoy thinking of how much my father loved working with my grandfather and realize how unusual it is now for a child to work alongside a parent. Where it once was expected that the sons of shopkeepers and cobblers and farmers would go to spend their lives working beside their fathers, it now is uncommon for fathers and sons to do actual work together.
But youth sports provides a throwback opportunity for parents and children to work together. I learned how meaningful this could be when I started coaching my son, Gabriel, in basketball and baseball 30-some years ago. We enjoyed working together to figure out how to win games and help him and his teammates get better at their sport. I remember vibrant conversations with him about plays we could try and ways to counter strong opponents. And celebrations over victories and solidarity in defeat.
The role of a coach is more important now than it ever has been. A coach’s impact can go far beyond the X’s and O’s of the game. Often coaches will go above the job description and be there to care for their players outside of the game, as many of them may not always have a strong male figure in their lives.
Coaching can be an especially meaningful way of making a difference if coaches can avoid the negative, win-at-all-cost style of coaching that is so harmful.
As an organization we obviously do our part to give coaches the tools to really coach with care, like our Caring Coach Curriculum we created in partnership with Dove Men+Care and the College Football Hall of Fame. We need to ensure we’re enhancing the experience for our teams on and off the field.
We now know that a key to high-performing teams is creating a caring climate where team members feel psychologically safe knowing that they can be themselves, even make costly mistakes, and still be accepted and valued by their teammates and coaches.
A powerful way coaches can do this is to learn to be relentlessly positive in filling their players’ Emotional Tanks, which are like gas tanks in cars—when tanks are empty, players just do not perform well. A coach, whether a father or a potential father figure, who wants to make a difference in the lives of young people, can fill E-Tanks by becoming a “noticer,” who reinforces them when they do something right and thanks them for efforts that help the team. Children respond to relentless positivity, and none more so than children who are suffering.
Dr. Mary Fry of the University of Kansas said, “It especially saddens me to see kids dealing with hardships in life treated harshly by coaches who don’t realize the damage they do by being too critical, too negative, and by dealing with athletes only in terms of their sport performance and not as people. Many coaches don’t realize how much good they could do if they supported athletes, built them up, and believed in their incredible potential.”
Approaching this Father’s Day, Positive Coaching Alliance and Dove Men+Care have partnered to celebrate all the men who are there to care for others. We recognize the coaches who make a difference in a child’s life and are dedicated to filling the Emotional Tanks of our young people, who, in Mark Edmundson’s words, could benefit so much from “a dose of pure benevolence.”
PCA and Dove Men+ Care's partnership includes the creation of the Caring Coach Curriculum with the College Football Hall of Fame. It is a resource that offers you, as a youth or high school coach, ideas and practical tips to help you coach with care, enhancing your players’ experiences on and off the field.