When we asked Frank Busch, “How do you teach character to your team?” he was quick to answer with a heartfelt reference to the “Wildcat Code” of the University of Arizona.
In other words, by simply showing up you confirm respect for your teammates. By paying attention you show respect to yourself and the coach. By telling the truth you are more likely to resolve issues that might arise within the team. And the concept of honoring your team with your efforts speaks for itself!
Busch was the swim coach at the University of Arizona for 22 years. He recently took the helm as National Team Director at the United States Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs to work with the some 10,000 coaches from all over the country.
Says Coach Busch, “Team members have to believe in the code to experience success. The expectation is that if they follow the code, success will be the result. Team members also must, collectively, have integrity and passion.”
He goes on to explain that a good coach is able to communicate such a code in a way that his/her athletes can not only comprehend but also internalize it. The simpler the explanation of the concept, the better in this day and age; athletes are inundated with complicated and tough messages, but this one is not hard to understand.
Busch was never an assistant coach, so he watched and learned from other great coaches along the way. When asked how the concept of good character was instilled in him as a youth, he replied, “Of course, my mom and dad were very honest in their dealings as I was growing up. The way they handled everyday life taught me the basics of good character.”
Whatever sport, age group or level of ability you coach or play, it is clear that building character is as important – maybe more so – than the sport itself.
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