What Coaching really means…

IMG_5329Claudia achieved the Coaching F License at 20 and has since coached with Berkshire Soccer Academy in Massachusetts and had experience working with  Team First (made up of several of the 1999 USA women’s World Cup winning team).  She continues to play for Columbia International University in South Carolina as well as being the Varsity Girls Assistant and a Head Soccer Coach at Ridgeview High School.  Claudia is passionate about training other girls to become better athletes on and off the field, like so many coaches did for her.



If you look in the dictionary the word “coach” means a person who teaches or trains. The job of a coach is to train an athlete in their specific sport to achieve excellence and ultimate performance, but if a coach wants the athlete to really achieve any of that they have to really coach them and not just in athletics. So like any job coaching has its descriptor explanation, but if you want to be a successful coach you need to step out of your comfort zone and be willing and want to be involved in your athlete’s life and lead and mentor them. Without this your coaching may not be effective towards them at all. Part of being a coach is being a leader and a mentor. As the coach you will be the one to lead the team and each individual through practices and life. Even if they do not ask you to, you will be one of the loudest voices in their lives.


Then the other side of that is if they ask you to help them or they tell you what is going on in their life, that unnamedis where you really can be intentional with an athlete. You as the coach now have the chance to really walk through life on and off the field with them. Of course there will be bumps in the road, times you get over whelmed, sometimes you might not know what to do or think, sometimes you will hear things that you don’t understand or know what to believe, but the most important thing is to not leave their side. Even when it becomes hard and a struggle stand by them as a coach and mentor. Sometimes we all feel like we are alone, but if you can be the person who helps your athletes feel like they aren’t alone then do it. That is when coaching will be the most rewarding; when you have the chance to make a difference no matter how small in their lives. As a mentor you lead by example, by talking through things, and by simply being there. The role of a mentor is to guide and be part of someone’s life. Relationships are hard and require work, trust needs to be built, goals need to be set, etc. Sometimes things happen that will affect those relationships. Trust will be broken, disagreements happen, but if you 100% want to make a friendship and mentorship work you HAVE to be willing to work through those.


Trust is hard to gain and to give, but it is something that is worth working towards and fixing. If you as the coach tell your athlete that you don’t trust them, how do we expect them to respond to us from then on? Probably distant and removed, they don’t know what to think or feel. By telling them that you just want to be a coach to them and can’t be there for them, that is something that will send them over the edge.  Sometimes our athletes are going to be going through really rough situations in their lives. Sometimes coaches might not understand fully what is going on or how to help, it is always worth it to stay by the athlete through these times even if it is just them knowing they have support from someone. Rumors will go around and people will talk, but that is where trust comes in.


Trust that your athlete is doing what is right and if you have questions concerning what is true or not, simply ask. That is the best way to maintain that mentorship and coaching relationship. Open communication, it is hard, but it is the best way to stay accountable. I’ve known people growing up on my teams that have lost support from coaches and teammates before an seen how far they fell. They felt like they lost the most important relationships through people not really taking the time to understand everything. I’ve seen players and friends turn to substance abuse when this has happened, they felt like they had no one to turn to. As coaches the goal is to train and support and lead.


Once that stops , you aren’t a coach anymore. The strongest way to lead is through example, and for teams to be unified and strong together and individually. As female coaches this will speak loudly to the sports community. If others see a team is strong and the coach is mentoring each member how they can then we have shown how we are well rounded in our fields. We have shown that we care and are taking interest in our jobs and players. No one can tell you how to coach, but there are effective ways to coach and build a team. Sometimes we will need to put differences behind us with our teams, we will need to step up and decide to support, and the fact is it is all worth it. Coaching is mentoring and once you decide to do that and trust and grow with each player that is when you have really started to coach.