Character is sometimes defined as moral excellence and firmness. My definition of character is doing what’s right even when no is looking. It’s part of my coaching philosophy. I want to encourage all of us, as educators and coaches, to own the concept of character!
Make it an important part of your program’s purpose for our young men. Look at it as teaching and coaching to the “whole person” and not just the player. Let’s not make it a “quick fix,” but teach “Life Lessons,” preparing our players for life, not just on the football field.
Teaching Character: Eye In The Sky
We must teach our young men to carry themselves as if they are being watched by hidden cameras.
Two things have happened over the years.
- Too many people believe in the idea that “it’s all about me.” They always ask “What’s in it for me?”
- We don’t have time to give others the respect and consideration we once considered normal.
Respect for others is still the most important quality a human being can possess. There is no excuse for disrespect. Showing respect for ourselves and others is the only proof we have to show it still exists in us and our society.
It is imperative that we emphasize to our players that carrying oneself with self-respect and dignity, plus affording other the same, is our ultimate goal.
Learning Character: Tenets Of Respect
Respect shall be shown in four very different, but very important, ways: manners, language, self-discipline; and attitude/choices.
Our Manners are who we are. We will always be known for the way we treat others. Manners continue to be a key factor in how successful we become in life. George Bernard Shaw said, “Without good manners, human society becomes intolerable and impossible.”
Life is so much better when we treat others with respect.
As coaches, our role is to take a positive approach to life every single day. We must model the behaviors we expect from our players; they are paying attention to our every move.
Effective coaches treat their players with respect, every day. As coaches, we are never satisfied with our players when their performance is not what it should be – but we must continue to coach them and coach them with respect. All great coaches understand the power of praise and rewards. For every correction you make, you should give three compliments when they are deserved.
As coaches, we must understand the best way to leave a good impression on our players is to treat them the way you would like to be treated and that is with dignity and respect.
What makes the difference in our Language? Positive words are pleasant to hear and they are more encouraging than negative words. Good coaches should be sensitive enough to choose their words carefully without put-downs and insults. What comes out of our mouths reveals what’s stored in our hearts.
“A man’s words will always express what has been treasured in his heart,” according to Luke 6:45.
We must always be conscious of our language with our players and hold them accountable daily for their language. We must address any bad language by expressing to our players that there are better ways to communicate. We must remind them that every time we open our mouth, we say something about ourselves.
We must stress the fact that Self-Discipline forms habits that make extraordinary tasks become normal because they become part of our everyday routine. This helps our young players become men. It will help form and shape their lives. Good habits help us get things done when we don’t feel like doing them.
The best characteristic I love about our country is that we have the right to choose, which includes our attitude. There are two words that can shape and mold our life: Attitude and Choices.
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It is essential that we stress to our players the only thing you control is your Attitude. We are not born with a good or bad attitude; we choose our attitude.
We must stress that attitude is a mindset. Our attitude defines our life and our circumstances. We may not be able to choose our initial circumstances, but we can choose our attitude toward our circumstances.
Character Inside Us: What Lies Beneath
Our attitude reflects what’s in our hearts. If our heart is good, our attitude is good. There are two words that shape a good attitude: opportunity and thankfulness. There are two words that shape a bad attitude as well: anger and pessimism.
Anger is the end of any good, if there is any good left in a person. No rational thinking is involved whenever a person is angry and it will destroy any chance at building a relationship. Pessimism is a tendency to see the worst aspect of things or believe that the worst will happen. It is a lack of hope or confidence in the future.
Pessimistic behaviors, people and their actions are like quicksand. People with pessimistic views are always working to get somewhere safe but the harder they work, the deeper they sink with this type of attitude. They need to flush this junk out of their life and organization.
We coaches and educators have an opportunity to work in one of the best professions in our country. A large part of that profession is to mold, shape and impact the lives of young people. No other profession can touch lives the way we do.
Our players have the opportunity to participate in the best sport ever played. This sport will shape and mold their lives to prepare them as men and teach life-long lessons. We should be thankful that we are given this opportunity.
This article was written by Ray Lee, head coach, Greenbrier East (W. Va.) High School.
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