It’s 2017, and the quality of sports in the Philippines keeps getting better. Athletes are getting stronger and quicker while some training programs have been introducing new concepts and techniques learned from other countries. One aspect that contributes to the development of sports that often gets overlooked is coaching. Coaches might not be the one sitting at the heart of the team but they’re definitely the ones that guide athletes not just toward the path of victory but also toward becoming better people in our society.
I believe that we can create better coaches if we understood what actually entails to become one. The most important asset that a coach must have is the knowledge of the sport of the athlete that he/she is coaching. Most of the coaches today were at one point in their lives, one of the best players in their field. Olsen Racela, one of the best point guards who ever played in the PBA is now coaching the FEU’s men’s basketball team. Eric Altamirano, on the other hand, was named MVP when he led the UP Fighting Maroons into a UAAP men’s basketball championship in 1986. He coached the NU Bulldogs toward their first championship in 2014.
We must also consider that there are other factors that make up a good coach. Coaches today should understand the importance of strength and conditioning programs for their players. Before, weightlifting was reserved only for body builders, or for serious and professional athletes. Today, as the competition gets tougher and the practices become more repetitive, we cannot simply ignore the benefits of strength and conditioning training. Today, it’s among the proven scientific methods of preparing the athlete’s body. With it, it gets easier to jump, to smash, to chase after a ball or to tackle opponents, plus it also helps with preventing injuries. Yes, it’s important to master your craft, the specific skills in your sport, but let’s face it: it’s better to become an all-around athlete instead of just becoming a better, say, basketball player.
Another important aspect of coaching is the relationship he/she creates with the players. As mentioned, some of the best athletes have transitioned into becoming coaches. It’s also crucial that the coaches have a good method of teaching the players. We need to understand that being a good player doesn’t necessarily translate into being a good coach. Coaches also need to understand their players’ psyche: the way they think and their attitude. The coaches also share the responsibility in finding the best way to handle the team so that the athletes would have an easier time to respond to them.
Our culture has a lot to do with how coaches treat their players. We Filipinos value having strong family ties that it reflects into sports teams. Coaches assume the role of the parent while the players are the children. The relationship becomes more personal than keeping it like a business of running a team. Sure, it’s a good model to use especially for student-athletes. The coaches become their second parent since athletes spend a great deal of time in practices and in games. But what’s detrimental is that when coaches also become the traditional type of parents – the type where for example, the children or the player in this sense, cannot express their own opinion or cannot suggest new techniques. It is seen as sumasagot sa nakakatanda or walang respeto – when in fact it’s simply a dynamics for the best interest of the team.
I’m not suggesting that we should totally scrap the coaching system here in our country; I simply believe that it can be better, that it can be revolutionized. Right now coaches rely on what they have experienced when they were athletes. We don’t see a program especially for career coaches that teaches sport-specific techniques, strength and conditioning and sports psychology. In Division I schools in the US, they highly recommend coaches that have a coaching degree. In the Philippines, it depends on the coaches if they would have the resources and the initiative to sign up for classes or seminars that would help them in their career.
At the end of the day, we are grateful for having our second moms and dads. Coaches are the unsung heroes, molding athletes into better persons. They are the ones who taught us important values that we learned inside the court that we bring with us beyond the gym.