5 Reasons Why Coaches Make Great Teachers - by Sarah Daren

From the Coach’s Clipboard Basketball Playbook
"Helping coaches coach better..."

Sarah Daren is a featured writer on the Today Show website and has been a consultant for organizations across a number of industries including athletics, health and wellness, technology and education. When she's not caring for her children or watching the New York Yankees play, Sarah enjoys practicing yoga and reading a good book on the beach.

Sarah Daren
Sarah Daren

Coaches, at the end of the day, are athletic teachers. Although we don't think of teachers as "academic coaches", the two positions are almost synonymous. Outside of subject material, coaches and teachers share similar traits, goals, and responsibilities. Both command respect, impart education and lessons, communicate effectively, and help students/athletes accomplish personal and universal goals. These similarities mean the line between the two positions is permeable for coaches who want to become teachers and vice versa.

Coaches specifically lead individuals, teams, and staff towards personal and over-arching goals. This focus works in their favor when it comes to the classroom because they understand how to reach multiple goals with differing personalities. Being a teacher goes beyond the subject material, and, in a way, the classroom is a team that needs a leader. The following are 5 reasons why coaches should consider using their honed skills to work in a classroom setting.

#1: Coaches Set Standards of Success Outside of Traditional Measurement Methods

Earning high grades is an obvious goal worth reaching, but more so are retaining information and personal-growth. Favorable metrics don't always equate to real progress and actionable education, and coaches understand that they need to set personal and team goals outside of competition victories. Students and athletes alike need to be engaged on their level, or else grades and wins are empty and unhelpful. Before coaches ask for a major championship, they start on the ground - beating personal bests, completing team strategies, and measuring improvement on a smaller scale. Setting these standards can be helpful in the classroom, where students can learn to meet their own goals instead of measuring by standard grades - utilizing recently learned information/processes, improving participation, increased topic comprehension, etc.

#2: Coaches Provide the Foundation For Individual Growth

This isn't to say that teachers don't acknowledge their students; simply that coaches are particularly adept at recognizing improvement. Students can be overwhelmed in larger classrooms, and might be too shy to actively participate. Sometimes they work hard and improve, yet teachers haven't noticed their improvement. What makes coaches so great here as educators is that their coaching background has made them skilled at identifying both improvement and weaknesses, then designing plans to encourage growth. While in the past, tailoring lessons to students needs may have been difficult, technology is now making personalized learning possible, as 91% of teachers agree that technology helps them tailor lessons to the needs of teach student.

Without affirmation and tailoring lessons to a student's individual needs, their progress may be lost. Although teachers/coaches teach students/athletes about self-reliance and confidence, a student/athlete's future may change thanks to some positive recognition. Coaches are great teachers because they will motivate their students until they are self-motivated and no longer require the acknowledgement.

coach and teacher

#3: Coaches Affirm Teamwork

Along with individual acknowledgement, coaches are also accustomed to recognizing teamwork. Individual affirmation sustains on a personal level, and supporting team efforts reminds them of the larger goals. Coaches understand that personal goals are necessary for growth, but it's selfish growth. Athletes/students benefit from successfully working with one another, as that is what happens in life (work, family, friends, etc.). A group focused on one goal will always accomplish more than an individual. Coaches can bring this idea to the classroom, and teach students to help one another. Peer-to-peer help is immediately beneficial as well as prepares them for future endeavors.

#4: Coaches Inwardly Reflect

Coaches know that they have to stay ahead of their athletes. That means they stay up-to-date on training practices, recent trends, and current news. They frequently question themselves to stay sharp, and believe in self-betterment; a necessary and invaluable character trait. Inwardly reflecting helps maintain their leadership role and keeps them connected to their team. Coaches can bring this to the classroom, and remember they need to reflect upon the lesson and their teaching practices. In a fast-changing world, self-betterment keeps a teacher relevant in the classroom.

#5: Coaches Would Make Great Lead Teachers

Coaches are great at leading young athletes as well as older professionals. Among the coaching traits, the ability to lead is one of the most prominent. Although teachers are leaders within their classroom, they can get bogged down in a myriad of other responsibilities that are equally important. Coaches who become teachers will convey strong leadership that can even be utilized with co-teachers. Positions such as Lead Teacher are responsible for helping new and existing teachers improve their pedagogy in order to keep the classroom innovative. Education quickly evolves, and focused teachers need leaders to keep them updated and relevant.

Articles by Sarah Daren