It’s been said more times than anyone can count that coaches have a special impact on players' lives. We know that to be true. We know that good coach-player relationships can span a lifetime and leave lasting impacts.
What's interesting is the increasing support for a more aware style of coaching. It is evident that the overwhelming majority of coaches take time to get to know their players and usually about their home-life, especially at the high school level. I would argue that many coaches already practice "trauma-informed coaching" innately without intending to.
So what is trauma-informed coaching? The Positive Coaching Alliance has put out an incredibly fascinating piece with information about trauma-informed coaching, what it means and how to do it.
Trauma-informed coaching suggests slight changes to the style of coaching as another tool in the tool box. If the whole point of athletics particularly at the high school level is "educational athletics" then this type of mechanism is almost imperative.
The piece explains this, "When you change the way that you interpret certain behaviors and situations, the way that you give young people the support and guidance they need to succeed also changes. In the same way that coaches employ different instruction techniques when teaching a sport skill, they can develop different ways to help young people build non-sport skills."
Essentially, it takes what many coaches, especially those in challenging environments, already do and enhances it. Anecdotally there's thousands of stories that would show that this is already something that is apart of many coaches habits, just without a name or explanation.
The piece lays out these 5 steps; 1: New Starting Line, Same Finish Line, 2: Help coaches understand the brain 3: Give coaches regulation standards for coaches and players, 4: Prioritize the little things, and finally 5: Think about your program strategically.
Some of the key factors that the piece talks about are as simple as having consistency in practice plans, having clear expectations of behavior and routinely checking in with players who seem to be struggling.
This is extremely relevant for all coaches, as research says that trauma exists in a wide variety of socioeconomic, racial and geographic backgrounds. However studies show that kids in disadvantaged communities are more likely to experience trauma in their childhood. Over 60% of children living in poverty have experienced a traumatic event at least once.
Coaches wanting to better understand their players or reach certain challenging players, this is excellent.
Fascinating piece (read it here).