Coach Training Series
“We believe that creating environments in which all people are welcomed and valued is the biggest contribution that a coach can make to anti-racist work. Welcomed and valued because of their differences. Because of who they are. When we create safe, relationship-rich spaces for young people to learn about others, it goes even further than any lesson could. Players put a lot of stock into what their coaches say, and even more in what they do. Every time a coach shows that they are committed to inclusion, and committed to anti-racist practices, players notice. With time, this becomes a part of the fabric of your team.”
-Nana Attakora, Oakland Roots
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The foundation of inclusive coaching is seeing humanity in others; to do this, we must practice the skill of empathy. Empathy is about taking someone else’s perspective and trying to more deeply understand them and their journey. This section will focus on the key components we need to empathize with others – acknowledging and affirming their humanity.
In an inclusive team, players and coaches alike appreciate and celebrate each other’s successes, resilience, effort, and contributions every day, in formal and informal ways. This section will focus on the importance of appreciating our players for their actions as a person and teammate, not only as a player. It encourages coaches to build an environment of appreciation through in three specific ways: greetings, energy, and shoutouts.
Being a minority in a majority group can be stressful, even traumatic. This section focuses on ways that coaches can increase a sense of emotional safety for all players, through clear, mutually agreed-upon rules, consistent routines, and thoughtful transitions. By establishing the team space as safe in predictable ways, players are free to focus on building their skills and relationships, expressing themselves, and having fun.
Vulnerability in soccer is not only important because it normalizes trying new things, but also because sharing things that are real and true deepens our connections. Relationships that include vulnerable conversations can help us feel safe on our team, which makes us better learners and better teammates. This section focuses on embracing vulnerability within a team, and using its power to bring people together for a common cause.
Having awareness allows us to develop our intuition to navigate tricky situations, find space to dig deeper, and unlock new learning opportunities for ourselves and our teams, both on and off the field. This section focuses on the idea that having awareness as an inclusive coach can build bridges between what players are learning on the field and where else in their lives those very same skills apply.
Authenticity can be about sharing how we arrive from our day, who we are as people and what identities we bring with us, or sharing about ourselves as people too. This section focuses on leading with authenticity, therefore encouraging authentic connections between your team, increasing the feeling of safety, doing the important work of team bonding, and increasing positive experiences with diversity.
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