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The Four Step Framework to Teaching Character Development

Updated: Oct 27, 2022

"Sports don't build character, they reveal it." -John Wooden.

John Wooden may be one of the most legendary coaches of all time, but I disagree with this quote.

Can sports highlight weakness in our personal character? Most certainly.

But, it's the responsibility of a coach to build a sustainable model to teach and implement character development for our athletes.

Many coaches are the most prominent adult influence on an adolescents kids development. Why? Because middle and high school age, they begin to tune out mom and dad.

I believe every kid deserves an outstanding coach who cares about them beyond their role as an athlete on a team.

Character sticks with us when we hang our cleats up and never play again.

I'm curious, what lessons on character did you learn in sports? Share with me after you finish reading this newsletter and watching this week's edition of Coaches Corner. ;)

The Four Step Framework to Teaching Character Development

I will use body language as our consistent character example throughout the framework.

1. Model - We have all heard the saying, actions speak louder than words. We must model it if we want to teach our team excellent body language! Not just when things are going well but also when an official makes a terrible call. That's the real opportunity to model excellent body language. Or encouraging a teammate when they shoot a bad shot instead of throwing our hands in the air.

2. Test - The test always comes first, whether on the court or off. Put your athletes in practice scenarios that will cause frustration. These frustrating scenarios will allow them to practice positive body language in challenging situations.

3. Teach - Building character is like growing a garden. First, we have to plant the seed by modeling the way. But then, we must consistently water our garden by coaching our athletes through their mistakes. You put them through a challenging situation, and they still throw your hands up. Now what? Teach! Continually teach what body language should look like until great body language becomes a habit.

4. Reward - As Stephen Mackey on this week's podcast said, "what gets rewarded get's repeated." Now the rewards don't have to be ice cream or pizza. They can be genuine words of praise, "like YES *INSERT NAME THAT WAS GREAT BODY LANGUAGE." Shout them out at the end of practice. The more we can reward the character we want to see, the more it will be repeated.

We all talk about how sports develop character on and off the court. It's true, but if we intentionally build character on the court or field, we can build even more impactful leaders for our communities.

DM me on any platform or respond to this email & let's have a conversation on building great character into our athletes!

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