How A T-Shirt Can Harm Your Athletes

I am not afraid to admit that I spend far too long on Facebook. Some posts are interesting, some are funny and then there are others that are just inappropriate!

I recently saw a post that wasn’t inappropriate for Facebook, but was inappropriate for the coaching environment.  The post was a simple photo of a “coach” in a training environment, proudly wearing a t-shirt that had the following statement emblazed across the front:

“I am the shooting coach.  To save time, lets just assume that I am never wrong”

Anytime I see the word assume, a little smile appears on my face as I replay in my head the many times my dear husband has said “to assume is to make an ass out of you and me” and you could not be farther from the truth here.

Although I do not have an issue with humour and having a enjoyable time, I am very passionate about shooting and coaching, so lets scrutinize the direct and indirect message this seemingly innocent t-shirt actually conveys.

What message does this coach give with his choice of dress?

“To err is human”.  People are wrong, there is no two ways around that, people make mistakes.  What matters is how people deal with making mistakes.  Saying you don’t make mistakes indicates that you are either arrogant or oblivious to the mistakes that you do make.

“There is more that one way to skin a cat”.  One characteristic of being a coach is having a comprehensive toolkit of knowledge and drills to be able to analyse, identify and improve an athletes performance.  Another characteristic is knowing that there is more that likely multiple ways of improving that one element of an athletes performance.  Some will work well, some will work but not as well as you’re expecting and others will not work for that athlete.  If you choose the wrong way, no doubt this is a mistake but if you accept your mistake you now should have the knowledge as to why that was a mistake for the next time.

“Respect is earned, not given”.  Respect as a coach is something that is earned with hard work, professionalism as well as intrinsic and extrinsic results, and to clarify it is the responsibility of the coach to earn the respect of the athlete.  Dictating that you as a coach is “never wrong” can have a detrimental effect on the coach athlete relationship that could take a long time to repair, if it can be repaired at all.

“First impressions last”.  The associated photos with the one of the person wearing this t-shirt involved junior athletes.  If this was their first experience having a “coach” it could taint their lifelong experience with coaches. 

“The greatest gift is not being afraid to question”.  Athletes who are being coached should be encouraged to ask questions and explore their sport.  If you don’t ask questions you are not going to learn.  Having a coach present who is “never wrong” can put a dampener on the exploration of the sport as well as hindering the learning experience.

“It’s going to take time, it’s a learning process”.  There are no short cuts in training, any short cut you take now will be apparent in competitions or when it matters!  It really does not matter if a task takes 5 minutes or 5 hours – seriously!

“The education of man is never complete until he dies”.  The coaching profession is one that involves continuous learning, and learning comes from education, experience and the identification and acceptance of mistakes!  This also applies to athletes!

“Professionalism is not a label you give yourself – it’s a description you hope others will apply to you”.  Well, I’ll keep this one simple, this t-shirt just lacks professionalism and would most likely never been seen in a professional sporting environment.

In conclusion, not only does it give an unprofessional appearance, giving simple “threats” to athletes of all ages and experiences is as inappropriate as it comes impeding learning and the exploration of the sport, coach-athlete relationships and ultimately results.  Dress appropriately as a sports coach!

So how do you dress as a sports coach?

The dress of sports coaches can range from suit and tie to shorts and t-shirt.  Smart-casual is probably the most accepted practice and that can be sporty smart-casual or “business” smart-casual. Obviously the dress is dependant on the sport, type of coaching session being held, the environment and the abilities of the athletes.

For a shooting coach, we recommend smart casual of either the business or sporty variety.  Choosing dark neutral colours can be best for those times where you need to come along side the shooter during details.  You should be comfortable in your clothing and able to freely demonstrate technique/positions when required.  Try and select clothing that won’t crinkle and make noise when moving.  Pockets are handy as well as clothing that your not too worried about getting dirty.  Finally dress appropriately for the weather, coaches get cold too!

Above all else where clothing that shows your professionalism and passion for the sport.

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