FNF Coaches Talk — Readers respond to in-game communication, the impact of a mental performance coach, protect coaches from parents

Happy Friday, Coaches. We’ve got three stories for you.

1. Readers responds to the Texas UIL’s decision to consider coach-to-QB communication systems (Twitter)

In yesterday’s FNF Coaches Talk, we shared the story about the Texas state athletic association’s decision to consider allowing coach-to-quarterback communication systems at the high school level next year.

The response from coaches was split just about 50/50. The coaches who didn’t care for the idea generally cited budget constraints as the primary reason. They felt it would create a larger gap between the well-funded schools and the schools that lack funding.

On the other hand, many coaches welcomed the idea of adding any new technology that could make the game better.

The most thoughtful response came from @CoachB_Ware, who hashed out his points in a well-written summary.

Which pieces of new technology (cameras, drones, equipment) do you prioritize in your budget?

2. Athletes enjoy secret weapon in mental performance coach (AP News)

A mental performance coach is something every program could use, but we know there’s not always room in the budget to hire one full-time.

Melissa White, mental performance coach at Hempfield (S.C.) is one of two mental performance coaches in the state, according to Chloe Grandin, spokesperson for the Association for Applied Sport Psychology, an international program that certifies sports psychologists. The other coach works with the Uniontown Area School District, she said.

According to the National Federation of State High School Associations, an Indianapolis, Ind.-based national leadership organization for high school sports and performing arts, almost 32 percent of adolescents deal with anxiety. Of those, over 8 percent have a severe impairment.

In her role, White works individually and in group settings to help athletes overcome mental blocks, dissect what went wrong during practices and games, and encourage athletes to do their best.

“I’m the person that’s looking out for the athletes that are maybe struggling in the plays or struggling with anxiety, or maybe they’re hurt and they don’t want to say anything,” the 38-year-old Latrobe resident said. “And so I do check-ins with that, so that’s kind of how my role plays out on Friday nights.”

What strategies do you have in place to limit your players’ anxiety levels on game day?

3. Editorial: Measure coach’s impact on lives of athletes (The Daily Item)

This is an interesting read for coaches, coming from the perspective of someone who has been coaching for 14 years. And you’ll never believe what his biggest complaint is.

I was told from the beginning that everyone in the stands was “an expert coach.” Those words have never been as true as they are now, 14 years later.

The author, Susquehanna University coach Aaron Ettinger, talks about his concerns about the recent trend of coaches getting fired because of one or two parents escalating situations.

What is most disappointing is the lessons we teach members of these teams. When kids aren’t starters or don’t make the varsity squad, it is always the coach’s fault. Kids don’t have the fortitude to look in the mirror and decide to work harder nor do parents have the difficult conversation with their child that they need to simply improve if they want to play. Instead, it’s the coach’s fault.
What lesson does that teach the next generation? When things are hard, we should blame others? Just quit and go somewhere else? What happened to a time when kids would “roll up their sleeves” and work harder?

Like any good columnist, Ettinger offers up solutions.

So, how do we fix the problem?
Parents, help develop your child. Cheer for the team. Support the coach. Help continue to build and develop the culture that each coach is trying to foster. Have difficult conversations with your kids and encourage them to work harder. Not just at practice, but when no one else is watching. Yes, that means hours outside of practice.
Athletes, simply, put in the work. We live in a culture of instant gratification. Too many people think things should be handed to them. If our athletes put in the amount of time outside of practice to refine their skills as they do playing video games, watching television, or listening to music, imagine how good they would be!
Administration, support your coaches. Allow them to grow, develop, and improve. At the end of the day, all of these coaches are trying to develop these young men and women; please allow them to do the same as a coach.
Coaching is a difficult profession where each coach is defined as a success or failure based on wins or losses. There are so many great coaches who choose not to follow this path because of the negativity that surrounds each coaching position. As we move forward, it’s time to offer the same support to our coaches as we do our athletes. Instead of only measuring the value of a coach by how many tallies there are in the win column, focus on how many lives they have impacted in a positive way.

How can we prevent unruly parents from starting campaigns to get coaches fired?

What’s driving the conversation in your locker room? Email Managing Editor Dan Guttenplan or Tweet us @fnfcoaches. Don’t forget to use that hashtag #FNFCoachesTalk