Athletics: Coaching Students to Thrive in Life

  • Coaching student athletes to thrive in life goes well beyond just winning championships and coaches have a responsibility to use their platform to teach valuable lessons about character development, respect and sportsmanship.

    Unlike other forms of teaching, coaches have a dual role – to make their athletes achieve on and off the field or court. To add a third component, coaches are mentors who can use their respective platforms to teach valuable life lessons. A new course aims to help coaches with the essential steps to be a more influential role model.

    The course tackles several issues of importance and focuses on the following objectives.

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    • Develop athletic programs that help athletes throughout their lives by emphasizing and enhancing positive and constructive leadership skills, behavior accountability proper sportsmanship and social skills.
    • The course also focuses on the ability to be an upstander and stop bullying when encountering improper behavior and create a positive persona as a coach who wields a very strong influence on young people.
    • Coaches will also learn to prepare to defend against negative attacks on the positive influence of athletics.

    Standards are key for coaching life lessons

    For coaches to use their status to effectively combine athletics with life lessons, a coach must establish a climate that promotes fairness and respect, much like classroom management.

    The course focuses on establishing and maintaining standards for student behavior and using a variety of instructional strategies and resources to respond to students’ diverse needs.

    Surveys, like one published by the America Medical Association, have linked teen sports and healthy behavior. For example, a survey of more than 14,000 teen-agers found that those who participated in team sports were less likely to use drugs, smoke, have sex, carry weapons or have unhealthy eating habits.

    Real-life scenarios

    The course directors say they will put their coaches through a series of real-life scenarios in which the coaches have to respond to such things as responding to critical press or addressing school boards on the positive aspects of athletic programs on health and social leadership.

    Another scenario will be to explain how team sports build character in teens. As part of the course, coaches will have to develop slogans or maxims for their athletes that emphasize the following character traits:

    • High Emphasis on character
    • High expectations of behavior
    • Set a good example
    • Good sportsmanship a must
    • Accountability
    • Holistic approach


    One assignment is that coaches describe how they teach student athletes to step up and stop bullying. Discipline is also addressed in terms of how to handle bullying.

    For example, the syllabus states, “describe how a program of yours is changing the stereotype of a jock from a bullying jerk to a tolerant and caring competitor.”

    Throughout the course, coaches will be given a number of such scenarios like the ones above to respond to in terms how they handle certain situations or hypotheticals.

    To learn about teaching student-athletes important life lessons see the course here.