Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Day 1429 - Thank your coaches

How often do you thank your kid's coach?

As a coach, mum, athlete, parent liaison and program coordinator I get to see team sports for kids from all angles.  Until I became a coach it never occurred to me how much work went into this volunteer role.  Well, I don't know what it's like to coach netball, soccer, footy or basketball, but as a cheerleading coach a lot of work goes into choreography, preparing for each session, ensuring the safety of the kids and being aware of the skills, strengths, personalities and feelings of each child.  And a whole bunch of energy also goes into the "parental politics".  I'm sure most sports are the same.

After doing this gig for many years it gets easier because you learn what's important and what's not.  You also start to learn how to deal with your own nerves and you learn how to better communicate with the kids and their families.

You also notice how gratitude comes easily for many kids.  They run up and give hugs, they smile when you're around, they tell you how clever they've been while practising at home, they are dying to show you their new skills, they turn up with enthusiasm and joy, and sometimes (just sometimes) they actually say it.  They walk up at the end of the session and say "thank you".  Watching the gratitude come so naturally from children is very rewarding.

The gratitude from the parents doesn't seem to come as easily.  And that's OK. Coaches don't expect that people will bow and kiss their feet every week for the wondrous work they do.  The end of year gift is a lovely indication that the grown ups are grateful (or at least the person who coordinated the gift and hounded people for money is grateful). Plus you don't do it for the gratitude. You do it as your contribution.  But there is a certain amount of relief and value you feel when a parent actually does come up to you, looks you in the eye, and says "thank you for volunteering your time for my child". Or sometimes it's an email that says "I want to thank you for the role you play in my child's development".

Communication is a wonderful thing, and constructive feedback helps programs grow and strengthen.  But too often we target the problems, the gaps, the inconsistencies, the negatives. Lots of great stuff happens during training too.  We mustn't forget that communication can highlight the strengths and can be positive too.  Sometimes it doesn't have to have a purpose other than to say "thank you".

When was the last time you thanked your coach? 

This post was written because since our State Championships on the weekend a number of parents have come to me (face-to-face and via email) and said "thank you". I had forgotten how good it felt to be thanked by the parents.  My shoulders feel lighter - a weight I didn't even know I was carrying has lifted. Gratitude is a truly magical thing.    


  1. I think it is a sad reflection on society when adults find it hard to say thank you. I always teach my kids to say thank you and also just around the house. I had an amazing boss when I was younger who always said thank you when I did anything and it made me feel good so I now do the same for others. Well done of being a coach and helping those children to be the best version of themselves.

  2. My husband ensures our son always says thank you at the end of each swimming lesson or thanks my mum for looking after him etc.
    We put a lot of effort into teaching him and for the most part thank them ourselves. I think it is very important.
    I also suspect that the coach, teacher or whoever realise that the thank you comes from us as well as coming from our son. At least I hope so :)

  3. We don't do team sports in this family yet, but this year we have ice-skating, dance and karate. This year I will make sure to remember each of these teachers and the great job they do with our kids during the year. #teamIBOT

  4. We don't do team sports as yet either. But I am constantly thanking the carers at my little misses preschool, they are amazing.

  5. I thank her teacher a lot and hope to do the same when she starts sport!! x

  6. I have been in your shoes as the coach or the parent assistant many times. I have always found that parents are grateful.

  7. Just good manners isn't it. I suppose there are those that don't say thank you - must make the personal thank you's even better.

  8. Wow reading this, I feel a little ashamed that we just don't thank the ballet teacher enough, and she works so hard. Thanks for the reminder Leanne


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