Philanthropy, Charity, and History

OK, out of the box I know you are sitting there saying what do those 3 words have to do with me coaching my team in sport.  Here's the thing.  As coaches we harp A LOT on the little things.  Position, footwork, attack that grounder, don't open up too much.  We tell them over and over again.  We launch correction on top of correction trying to build the better athlete.  If you've moved into travel sports we've started to drive pretty intensive practice schedules that dominate these kids daily schedule outside of school.  Think of how much emphasis some of our athletes put on these sports.  It's very easy for them to begin to see the sport as something that defines them.   When it defines them, and when they are constantly corrected, we risk those corrections of mechanics starting to work their way into their view of self worth.
That's why you'll see in many travel organization some element of philanthropy in their mission statements (sometimes forgotten by the coaches in practice).  Yes, it is also a good thing to do, but... think about it.  When your team gets out and works together to spend an afternoon gardening for an inner city neighborhood, or feeding the homeless, or helping the elderly, it gives perspective.  Especially if you talk about it.  It is easier for a mind to understand that inside the lines we focus on constant improvement.  We reach goals by never being completely satisfied with current state.  It's our job to constantly find SOMETHING to improve on.  Outside the lines, there is so much more.  We know that and we want them to know we know.  My daughter's college coach always found a way to bring some element of historical site seeing when they traveled.  They saw and talked about the bigger picture which makes it so much easier to accept the imperfections that occur between the lines. 
Accepting mistakes and moving forward, trying and trying again is athletics and it's one of the hardest lessons for our young athletes to learn.  Failing is hard and it IS part of the game.  It's necessary to progress.  It's necessary to learn.  And losing is part of the game.  Moving past the errors is a battle in the mind, and we coach that by teaching perspective.  The world outside the lines is so much bigger than what happens inside.

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