This past weekend I presented a workshop at the Indiana Coaches of Girls Sports Association conference. During the luncheon, two-time state volleyball championship coach Kathy Nalley-Schembra shared some great thoughts about feeding athletes. Some of my takeaways:
Feed the person, not just the player: Get to know them, attend their other extracurricular events, show that you care about more than their performance on the court.
Feed the heart: host movie nights, visit amusement parks, liven pre-practice routines with music, get away for mini team retreats, hold a Grandparent appreciation game. Be creative! Athletes play because they want to have fun, so incorporate fun to keep things fresh.
Feed the soul: Kathy coached at a Catholic school and had a prayer board where her players could write down prayer requests. This helped her know what concerns they faced and gave them an unthreatening way to communicate those things. Most importantly, they could pray for those issues. Finding out what’s going on in their lives gives you clues what they need from you and how to coach them more effectively.
Feed their bodies: She provided big jars of peanut butter, jelly and a bag of apples before practice, which gave them more energy and kept them focused. It also prevented them from grabbing vending machine snacks to curb their hunger.
Feed their brains: increase your knowledge through clinics, books, dvd’s and pass that knowledge along to them.