Apr 20, 2018
Teachable Moments
Barry Lippman

Hopefully, the athletic program at your high school embraces the education-based athletic philosophy. If this is the case, coaches should provide educational opportunities for student-athletes to learn life-long qualities and values such as sportsmanship, leadership, commitment, honor, respect, and many others. While you should plan, prepare, and strive to win games, this educational commitment has to be the ultimate objective.

One of the proven, successful vehicles in the effort to help student-athletes to discover and learn these various life-long traits is through the use of teachable moments. In this approach, a coach discusses a current topic that has appeared in the news. The topics can be wide-ranging, but always helpful and useful for young people.

For example, the following are some topic ideas for teachable moments:

  • The misuse of social media and the negative aftermath in the athletic arena.
  • An illustration of a player or team exhibiting good sportsmanship.
  • The latest protocols and reasons for reporting a suspected concussion.
  • The dangers of athletic specialization and why multi-sport participation is a great, positive alternative.
  • The importance of serving as a positive example and what it means to be a servant leader.
  • The steps to take in order to be a supportive teammate and the impact that this effort may have.

Once you come across a suitable, pertinent topic that you would like to use, how do you get started? It isn’t that hard. Many coaches use the time immediately at the end of a practice session to recap what was accomplished that day. This is a great time to spend five minutes on a teachable moment.

After you introduce the topic, and this step should be brief, it may be helpful to ask some questions of your athletes. This should help start and generate a discussion in which your players can offer their thoughts and opinions. You can try some of the following:

  1. Did you see or hear about the article in (and then name the publication)?
  2. What was your reaction to the reporting?
  3. Should there have been a different or more appropriate response to the problem or incident?
  4. How would you have handled the situation if you had been present or involved? Was there a better alternative?
  5. What ramifications may result from this situation?
  6. How could this problem have been avoided?
  7. And then the major concluding question: What can and should be learned from this?

While these represent a few starter questions, take some time to develop your own. Use anything that stimulates thought and leads to conclusions and increased awareness. If you can achieve this with your team, it will be an extremely rewarding endeavor.

Barry Lippman, MS, ATC, CSCS, is Associate Athletic Trainer/Director of Rehabilitation for Coastal Carolina University athletics, where he oversees athletic training for Olympic sports and works directly with the baseball team.

Shop see all »

75 Applewood Drive, Suite A
P.O. Box 128
Sparta, MI 49345
website development by deyo designs
Interested in receiving the print or digital edition of Training & Conditioning?

Subscribe Today »

Be sure to check out our sister sites: