The first item in the job description of a coach should be to provide a safe environment for their players to grow as people, teammates, and athletes.
In that order.
Sure, you need to know the rules, how to train them, nuances of the sport, in-game adjustments, strategies. But, without the ability to bond with your players and help them become better people, they won’t become their best on the field.
Character building is team building. The more people on the team with great character the more likely they are to win and be great individuals after they are done playing.
Here is an acronym for laying a foundation to build character within individuals and teams.
Trust - the ability to put faith in another person.
Humility - being Humble, or not being TOO big to do the little things (ex. cleaning up after practice)
Accountability - (Individual and Collective) - Individual: taking responsibility for one’s actions / Collective: holding teammates responsible for their actions relative to team goals and the certain way the team takes action.
Respect - treating others how you would want to be treated.
Poise - a dignified self-confident manner or the ability to remain calm when under pressure.
These are all attributes most strive to have that can be applied to the game of Lacrosse.
Each player should trust that their wide open teammate is going to catch a pass that’s thrown to them and score a goal, pick up a ground ball on their first attempt, and understand the offensive, defensive, and transitional strategies. Players should be able to trust that their coaches’ decisions are in the best interest of the team and its individuals.
Each player must have humility. A mentality that is seen in many great athletes is the belief that they are the best player on the playing surface during a game, but they are the player that needs the most improvement during training and practice. A coach needs to learn how to instill this mentality in each player so that they have the willpower to improve at practice and the confidence during games to perform.
Each player must hold themselves individually accountable for their actions on and off the playing surface. If each player is individually accountable, then the team can be collectively accountable and achieve team goals.
Each player must show all people, places, and things respect. This is the Golden Rule. In order to receive respect, players must give respect to their coaching staff, their teammates, the opposing coaching staff, the opposing team, the referees, the fans, the playing surface, and the rules of the game.
When a player has become trustworthy, humble, accountable, and honorable, they then have the ability to achieve poise. A team of individuals that trusts each other, is not too big to do the little things, holds its members accountable to goals, and shows respect, has no reason to fret when pressure is applied to them.
There are many other contributing factors that create a winning team or organization, but with this framework of characteristics, a coach will be off to a good start. Focus on the quality of people that you coach, not the caliber of the athlete.