Back to school time means……..

…..that the new issue of ESPN Rise is out. Just got the current issue at my school this past week, and it’s girls from cover to cover. Freakin fantastic.

In the online issue, the piece on burnout is good, as is the one on good coaching. It features, of course, Pat Summitt in naming five qualities of effective coaches:

1. They care about your education and development as a person
As a high school athlete, it can be easy to get caught up in competing. With most of your time devoted to playing the sport, it can effortlessly become the main priority in your life. During my high school career, basketball seemed to be the only thing I was known for. I quickly learned if I didn’t maintain good grades, it would be much harder to play in college. My coach at Mt. Miguel (Spring Valley, Calif.), Robbie Sandoval, took it upon himself to ensure that I maintained an above average GPA. I noticed that the same effort he applied to me on the court, he applied to me in the classroom and in life.

2. They care about your development as a player
Just as my coach was conscious of my growth in the classroom, he was even more mindful of my growth as a player. There are times when a player is good when she gets to high school but never gets better. I believe that a great coach is never satisfied with a player’s game staying the same. A great coach not only forces a player to work hard, but motivates her to work harder. Coach Rob made sure that every year I added a different element to my game. He did a lot more than help me get better; he made me want to be better.

3. They ride you the most during practice and in games
I quickly learned that if I wanted to be a great basketball player, I couldn’t look to my coach, or anyone for that matter, to tell me I was a good player. My coach would hardly ever tell me that I did something right. Whether it was in practice or a championship game, he made it apparent that there was something else that I could be doing to help the team. I may not have understood why he was so hard me then, but in the long run, I thank him for it because he helped me surpass my potential as a high school athlete.

4. They care about winning
I always hear the phrase, “Winning isn’t everything.” I understand that winning isn’t everything, but at the same time, no one plays to lose. If a coach is comfortable with losing, then he or she is not a very good coach. A great coach can learn from every game and apply it in preparation to win the next one. My coach in high school showed me that you don’t need the tallest players or the best players to win a game. With no one over 5-9, we were able to reach the San Diego section title game all four years of my high school career. Coach Rob understood how to utilize our individual strengths, as well as team strengths, to make us better. Simply put, it’s easier to be noticed by colleges if you win. Being seen is what will, essentially, take you to the next level.

5. They understand your goals and put in the effort to get you to the next level.
By the end of my high school career, my coach knew my game better than anyone. He knew how I was in practice, in games and he knew my tendencies. He would communicate with me to understand my goals and where I wanted to take my game. He talked to countless of coaches to help me figure out where I would best fit. He was also very involved in my AAU basketball team. Not only did he put in the effort to work with other people to ensure my success, but he also worked with me individually in areas that I needed to improve my game.

And who knew Queen Latifah was a high school sports star?