by Ryan Krzykowski

I had a college football teammate named Steve who was notoriously inflexible.  He couldn’t touch his toes — with straight legs he could barely touch his knees.  Somehow, despite this lack of flexibility, Steve was a starter in the defensive backfield and a good player.  But I’m pretty sure if you ask around, a player like that is the exception rather than the rule.  Someone who’s that inflexible is rarely going to be a capable performer on the field.  And of course, the ability to touch one’s toes isn’t the only type of flexibility that can prove to be useful.

I suppose it’s always been true that flexibility can be a valuable trait, but these days it seems to come in especially handy.  Just last week our school district added two additional days off to the 3-day MLK weekend due to staffing shortages.  I’ve got zero interest in debating whether or not that was a good decision, or how we’ve ended up in these situations.  What I do know is that perhaps more than ever, I’m watching coaches and athletes who can display flexibility rise above the challenges that these types of disruptions to the routine typically cause.

From the highest levels of pro sports, in which rosters have constantly been in flux due to illness and positive tests, to middle school basketball, where the players on my son’s team had five days with no contact and came back to school the day of their first game, the ability to adapt and roll with punches has become a competitive advantage.  I think often of my own Coaching Purpose Statement, which speaks to helping young people become resilient.  There’s certainly a flexibility component to just about any discussion about resilience.  And personally, while I would love to undo nearly everything about COVID, I can also recognize how I’ve grown over the past two years as a result.  I’m well aware that my level of suffering has been negligible compared with many, but I also recognize that I’m tougher, more focused, more compassionate, and certainly more flexible than I was 23 months ago.  That can’t help but make me more effective in living out my stated purpose as a coach.

Let’s Coach With Purpose…