Can coaches help athletes grow?
At Sunday school many years ago I was taught a parable about a man who was given corn. He scattered it carelessly around. Some fell on dry earth, some fell on stones. Some fell in fertile land and was either eaten by birds or strangled by weeds. Some fell in fertile land and received the right amount of sunshine and water and grew into healthy corn.
I was reminded of this when talking with Phil and Julie, two tennis coaches I work with. Phil was talking about how much we can influence players- he reckoned that they were born great. He asked “how much can we actually influence things?”
I then used the corn analogy to describe how I see our role as coaches.
The athlete is the corn– they are born a certain way. That can’t be changed. Whether they become fully developed and successful depends on many outside factors. The fertile earth is the environment they grow up in- supportive parents, good schooling, influential peers.
As coaches, it is our job to provide the sun and the rain– the knowledge and experience and motivation that will help the young athlete grow and develop.
Often we will provide the sun and the rain and discover we have grown a weed- but we can’t know that until we try.
Who are we to judge before giving our best effort for all athletes we work with?