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Teachable Moments

I have spent over 35 years offering workshops and training to volunteer and professional coaches.  One question I almost always ask the participants is, “Do you believe sport teaches life skills?

The answer is always a  unanimous and resounding, “Yes!”

Then I ask, “And how does that happen?”

Some coaches will say, “Well, it just happens.” Others don’t say anything at all.  The more thoughtful ones, however, will reply, “Through teachable moments.”

A teachable moment is defined as an unplanned opportunity that arises at a time where one person has an ideal chance to offer their insight to another person.  For example, I recently had the opportunity to teach 17 high school students in a leadership class.  Before one of our sessions, I watched the kids as they played an informal soccer game on a rough, somewhat grassy field on the campus of the National Hispanic University in San Jose. 

They were playing with complete abandonment and joy – calling their own fouls, showing respect for each other, and the game obviously enjoying every minute.

When the time came for our class, I opened by sharing what I had observed as they played—their self-regulation and self-motivation, the fun they were having, and the sense of friendship and community that marked their interactions.  This setting led to a 20-minute discussion of how they could implement these values and experiences in what we were doing and how they could even transfer what they learned to the traditional classroom.

Young people usually have a short-term horizon.  The immediacy of “right now” tends to dominate their attention.  As adults, we are supposed to see the bigger picture.  It is critical that we keep in mind that the teachable moments are precious, and we can’t afford to miss them.

Segment from my book, “Changing the Game” My Journey Through Life and Sports.

Dr. George Selleck

Koach Karl’s Notes:

Koach Karl’s Notes: 

Thank you, Dr. George Selleck, for becoming a Kontributor to FUNdamental SOCCER, and I look forward to sharing more of your educational/insightful ‘words of wisdom!’

I also encourage YOU (the reader) to join this discussion and become a Kontributor.  Just think, your advice may help improve other youth coaches …Priceless..!

Dr. George Selleck
Dr. George Selleck

Dr. Selleck is a retired psychologist, author, and founder/co-founder of two non-profit organizations dedicated to improving the sports experience for youth and their families. He has presented business, athletic, and personal growth seminars to hundreds of organizations in the United States and abroad, including the NBA Rookie Transition Program, the American Basketball Coach’s Association, the American Football Coach’s Association, Anaheim Unified School District, Hewlett Packard, and Dow Chemical. A member of the Pac-12 Hall of Honor and the Stanford Basketball Hall of Fame, Dr. Selleck is also a former CIF (California Interscholastic Federation) Player of the Year and Stanford All-American. He was twice named the Los Angeles Times High School Coach of the Year. Currently, he serves on the Advisory Board of SportzVillage, working with their EduSports initiative to provide integrated sports management services to schools throughout India. He also works with the U.S. State Department’s Sports United program, using sport to help transcend cultural differences and bring people throughout the world together.