Athlete Development Important In Small High-Schools
I decided to take a left-turn this week in my articles on health and fitness and speak about coaching – a profession near and dear to my heart.
Several years ago I had the exceptional experience to be awarded the position of Head Strength Coach for a very small high school football program.
Surrounded by some extremely talented football coaches,our vision was not only the present season, but developing continuity of success year after year, instead of depending on statistical and cyclical “good years” versus “rebuilding years”.
These terms are frequently used by coaches, media or both to describe an average or losing season, often marked by larger number of younger or less experienced players.
Naturally, this got me to thinking about the challenges the small high-school coach in any sport must navigate to build successful seasons year after year – no easy feat and worthy of admiration. Metaphorically, the “playing field” for available athletes in the small versus large high school is not “even.”
While there is no doubt that sport specific intelligence can only occur through yearly experience, the small school coach has more pressure to develop physical ability in his or her player, as they are pulling from a smaller population. In statistics, this would be referred to as “sampling.”
In the world of small high-school sports however, where athletic or physical predisposition doesn’t immediately provide the same volume of “natural” athletes, it is incumbent on coaches to have a streamlined and effective process of developing them. This development process, impartial to gender, can include making them faster, stronger, or more agile.
Obviously, this challenge is not limited only to the small school, as the term “rebuilding y ear” has become almost cliche’ in defining a teams anticipated performance based on arguably “measurable” criteria and subjective assessments of how a team will do, or spoken of in hindsight of how the team performed over a season.
Complicating matters is sometimes a naive public, that is under the impression that as long as a coach makes favorable moral, ethical impressions, that they will continue to remain employed. While virtuous criteria in coaching selection, the bottom line is the school administrations are seeking coaches that know how to win.
Coaches that know how to win, begin with the benefit of larger communities where there are a larger sampling of good athletes, or smaller communities, where the emphasis shifts more towards developing the “average” athlete into a top athlete.
Anyway it shakes out, I am reminded of a Division One football coach, who every year must recruit those “diamond in the rough” athletes that were not on the radar of bigger and better schools. A good friend of mine said it all when he remarked, “you’ll never see a better coach, do more with less, than t his coach.”
As it relates to the small high school coach, the same requirements apply.