Bringing Out an Athlete’s Personal Best

The best coaches I’ve had in my life: 1. My father Terry Peters (baseball) 2. Phil Cousineau (elementary school basketball) 3. Mary Jane Kiraga (high school volleyball) 4. Mrs. Jerry Brown (high school cross country running). And, no, I don’t believe I’ve made a biased decision ranking my father my best coach. He coached us to a championship victory without benching weaker players, and deserves the accolade. Unfortunately, apart from the 4 above the rest have been weak. I believe that many coaches make the mistake of trying to live out their winning aspirations through the teams they coach, instead of focusing on developing better players. This usually leads to the infamous bench-the-weak-players tactic, which repels many young players from sport. In his book The Only Way I Know, famous baseball player Cal Ripken said that he (and his father) believes there is too much emphasis on winning in youth sports, and not enough emphasis on player development and having fun. That’s been my experience. In fairness to those coaches, I don’t think most have been properly trained (nor certified) for the role.

The best book I’ve read on coaching is John Wooden’s My Personal Best. Kareem Abdul Jabar, the famous center for the L.A. Lakers and player of Wooden’s, said that Wooden never focused on winning, but said that winning would come as a result of trying to be your best. He said that if you’ve played your best, you’re a success regardless of what the score says. I like that philosophy because it changes the focus of sports from just winning to something more important: becoming your best. And it’s also a good answer to the question: What is the meaning of life? Before you dismiss Wooden’s philosophy as lame, keep in mind that he coached 10 teams to NCAA championship victories in a 12-year span, and was named national coach of the year 6 times.


About The Canadian Wordsmith

I am an amateur athlete, writer and editor currently living and working in Seoul, Korea. View all posts by The Canadian Wordsmith

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