I’m coaching middle school football again this year, and we’ve added a new component to the weekly schedule.  Nothing hugely time consuming, but an exercise designed to get the boys to do some thinking and reflecting.

One of our themes for the year is effort.  Our staff is working to help each player to be intentional with the type of effort he gives, not just at practice, but also at home and in the classroom.  On Mondays we begin the week with a meeting at the beginning of practice, and each player is required to grade his effort in all three areas from the previous week.  Forcing them to give thought to hard they get after it ought to result in a higher level of self-awareness as they go through their days.

Our other theme for the year is pride.  We tell our players to take pride in who they are and what they do, in that order.  We talk about taking advantage of their opportunity every day to make themselves and their teammates better.  On their reflection page, they are also required to do some goal setting — answering two questions:

What new thing will you learn this week?

How will you make our team better this week?

Like most ideas and exercises like this, it’s likely that we won’t be able to gauge the outcomes or results directly, and it will be many years before the total impact could be calculated.  So what?  I don’t coach for short term results.  I coach to help young people develop a love for sports and for others, steering them toward becoming someone who will change the world for good.  I am convinced that learning how to take time to reflect on how they are living can play a role in helping our players become better men.