September 16, 2009

Coaching Boys into Men - A Handbook

Many of the men reading this will have a story about their coach and the difference he made in his life. A man who took on the responsibility to shape a rag-tag group of testosterone fueled young males into a competitive team. "Coach," was a man who cared about you and who wielded the power and influence to teach not just athletic skills, but to instill the values of respect for others, teamwork, patience, tolerance for differences, and personal integrity along the way. If you have a coach like that in your background, tell us about him with a short remembrance in the comments section of this post.

Because of the power of a coach in a young male's life, it's not surprising that coaches as a group are being singled out as a force for changing the world as man-makers. One example is the focus on coaches in conjunction with the FIFA Soccer World Cup tournament in South Africa in 2010. UNICEF is planning to use the excitement surrounding the games to launch its Sports for Development Program. UNICEF has partnered with the South African Department of Education to reinvigorate a sports program called Coaching Boys into Manhood (CBIM).

The intention is to recreate a new International Coaches Manual based on concepts from the original Coaching Boys into Men Playbook, and enlist international celebrity soccer coaches and players, such as David Beckham, as “teachers” of violence prevention. Then CBIM will be distributed around South Africa, providing 585 schools and communities with coaches who will serve as liaisons between the school community, governing bodies, and key stakeholders in the effort to improve the lives of children.

Check out the CBIM playbook. It describes the FIFA Fair Play Code and has quotes like the following to inspire and challenge men and coaches everywhere:

By encouraging players to build healthy relationships with teammates, friends, families, opponents, referees and fans, and by promoting a non-violent environment on and off the playing field, coaches can help create a more peaceful world.

And really solid young men.

If you're a coach, thanks for your man-making. You are a gift to us all. You may find the Coaches Corner and the Coaches Kit on a website of the Family Violence Prevention Fund to be helpful.


  1. The best book on this topic-very moving, that I’ve read is: Season of Life, by Jeffrey Marx.

    It's a good short read that is very powerful.

    All the best, Craig

  2. Anonymous8:03 PM

    I have had several coaches in my youth and each made me a better man. They taught by example and I learned something I did not know before having a coach in that sport or activity. Role-models are a strong experience in my upbringing and I am very grateful for my coaches.


  3. I've always been (generally) very critical of athletics for boys/men because they have encouraged aggression, competition, winning at any cost, so I'm really glad to see these new resources for teaching coaches to be positive mentors. If you get a chance, you might check out the movies "Rivals" which we saw at the Maine International Film Festival this summer. It's about two Maine high schools, a working-class high school (Rumsford) in a mining town, and an upper-class high school on the coast (Cape Elizabeth) and their football rivalry. I had mixed feelings about the coaches: they swore and berated their players, but there were also some positive parts of the film. If you can see it I'd be interested in your response. Thanks for your important work.


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