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Free & Fit - Sports Chaplain. Not a Head Coach.

Free & Fit - What makes a Sports Chaplain different to a Head Coach? By Tim Cheux

The difference between practice and match day is quite simple. One is the implementation of strategies, formations and principles; and the other is the execution of these tactics to completion. This is the role of a Head Coach to lead practices and match day performance. Often this is described by many successful sports players in a positive sense when preparing to enter the field of play, crossing the white lines and implementing what they have been taught. Players know their coach has helped them along the way. Players may also mark their entry to the arena by a religious symbol, a look to the heavens or a kiss on the ground. It can be a Holy occasion and one a player wishes to direct their own attention too and others away from themselves in the direction of witnessing the influence of their creator. 

When performing my duties last summer I too had stepped over that white line, screaming instructions, encouraging players and echoing coaching instructions. The difference for me though was very clear. Simply put, as a Sports Chaplain, I can’t compete. My Achilles heel was competition. I had to make a change in my performance.

As a Sports Chaplain I can’t be competing for or with different teams, players or tournaments. My allegiance must be to one team and to one main goal of the betterment of my team's players and the well being of others around my team who they are interacting with and in my immediate community. Firstly, as a Sports Chaplain I am an ambassador of faith, I am set apart to serve to listen, to hear and to be available to all people of all backgrounds and cultures without agenda. Secondly, my position is to not influence, interfere or interrupt team selection, team progressions or training scenarios. This, quite simply, is the Head Coaches job.

As a Sports Chaplain, I can check in with players or coaches about performance, mental health and personal, spiritual, physical or social issues, but I can’t be seen to be actively pursuing or attempting to directly alter team affairs which may impact results or directly alter outcomes. Again, quite simply, this is the Head Coaches job. In response to my experience last summer when setting up my new business, I decided to differentiate my coaching from my chaplaincy and distinguish the clear difference of completion. 

As a result, I now coach one to one or in small groups for camps or clinics, instead of coaching on teams or in competitions. This then allows me to chaplain sports teams in competitions and at tournaments without conflict. It has perhaps proved a costly decision to turn down coaching contracts and opportunities, but has helped me to identify my unique selling point and approach teams and clubs without a conflict of interest with confidence and integrity. In fact, I can coach players from other teams and still remain impartial as I will not be influencing team selection or performance of my own team. In my role as the Sports Chaplain my energy is focused on the spiritual well being of the players, not how many goals they scored or what was the best play they made in the game. 

Meanwhile, the Head Coach is able to monitor every area of team performance, including spirituality, but with the support of me, as a Sports Chaplain, who can do so impartially and without the added pressure of influencing team decision making. Without competition, it is my belief, in my role as Sports Chaplain, that I can help support players, coaches, staff, fans, opponents, match officials and volunteers to create a healthy working environment for all members of the community. As I am now getting used to saying, I am a Sports Chaplain, not a Head Coach.

Prayers & Blessings as we pursue Faith and Fitness as one!

“So it is good to wait quietly for salvation from the Lord.”

‭‭Lamentations‬ ‭3:26‬ ‭NLT‬‬

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