You are Perfectly Placed

You are perfectly placed as a trusted adult in a role as coach in a sport that can naturally build strong resilient young adults. 

Adapt and be Intentional

The site is not prescriptive and it is extremely large, so, the key is adaptation and intention.  Use what’s here as it applies to the nature of your sport, how you coach and the nature of the players you currently have.

The Main Question

How can the heroic journey support your team in (a) meeting team goals; (b) individual performance; and (c) in developing as successful young women or men? 

Be Direct

Talk to your teams about how the heroic journey plays out for them as athletes and in life in general –  and how your coaching supports that.  Don’t assume that any of this is clearly evident to them. 

“A good coach can change a game. A great coach can change a life.”

Attributed to

Your Athletes are Challenged and Tested in Order to Grow

How does your sport and your coaching affect the core challenges?  The three different types of test?  The five levels on which your players are naturally tested?  (see below)

We grow outside our comfort zones when challenged and tested.  Teenagers have this experience in more ways than anyone else.  The good news is that it is about growing and becoming.  The bad news is that it is on so many fronts for ten years.

Coaches are better placed than almost any other adult to support teenagers in their journey.  These notes and guiding questions are not meant to be prescriptive.  Just adapt whatever is useful.

Your Players Face Three Core challenges
Notes and Guiding Questions

1. Forming an identity as a young adult

  • “Who am I?’ 
  • “Am I worthy?”
  • What are my values?  My purpose?
  • How does my race, gender, sexual orientation, politics, religion affect my identity?

How might my athletes identities develop while they play for me?

2. Developing more mature relationships – with parents, peers and romantic partners

  • “Where am I connected?” 
  • “Who cares about me?”
  • What do I bring to relationships?

How will my players feel connected – a part of the team – and what kind of relationship skills might they build?

3. Building a wide range of competencies

  • “Am I capable of taking care of myself – of being successful?”
  • What skills and attitudes does it take to be a young adult?

What kinds of competencies might my players develop (planning, leading, awareness of others, analysis, etc.) – and what characteristics might they develop (discipline, perseverance, commitment, dealing with setbacks, etc.)

Your Players are Tested in Three Different Ways
Notes and Guiding Questions

1. Letting go of the old ways of childhood

How does my coaching and being part of the team help my players realize they are no longer children and on the path to young adulthood?

2. Discovering and mastering the ways of being a young adult

How do I help my players understand what it takes to master the sport and how that translates into the rest of their lives?

3. Dealing with being in-between childhood and young adulthood – “inbetweenity”

How can I help my players deal with the weirdness of no longer being a child yet not quite yet being an adult?  The clarity and confusion; the sureness and insecurity; the successes and setbacks; the excitement and the anxiety?

A Note on Mastery

The more teenagers master the new ways of young adulthood, the easier it is for them to let go of the ways of childhood and to deal with the sense of “inbetweenity.”  The process of mastery is addressed in the section on what to expect on the journey and in the section on how to manage the journey.  Those sections address “learning to love the plateaus”, commitment, discipline, perseverance, habits, resilience, support, etc.

Coaches, teachers and bosses are in natural roles with the opportunity to help teenagers learn the process (and it is a process) of mastery and see it in action. 

Your Players are Tested on Five Levels (PIESS)

The first four levels are obviously built into the experience of being an athlete and even the spiritual level is often affected.  In that regard, anything that moves teenagers to an awareness and connection with something larger than themselves is helpful.

  1. Physical tests
  2. Intellectual tests
  3. Emotional tests
  4. Social tests
  5. Spiritual tests

The general question is:

“How is my coaching – and my platers experience with the team and sport – helping them develop on these levels?” 

What would your players say?

“A good coach will make his players see what they can be rather than what they are.”


Another set of Guiding Questions (Just a different perspective)

Here is a general set of questions from a perspective not directly referencing the heroic journey.  It’s just another way to approach helping players on their journeys.

“How can I help my players build?”

  • Skills
  • Attitudes
  • Competencies
  • Confidence
  • A sense that they are significant – and their behaviors matter
  • Resilience and responsibility


“How can I help them develop as they play for the team?”

  • Discipline, habits, learning, perseverance, mastery
  • Recovery from mistakes, injuries and losses
  • Open to learning/experience
  • Challenging and supporting – and being challenged and supported by teammates
  • Learning to “love the plateaus” – when progress seems elusive despite effort


“What does this player need from me at this time?”

  • To be a good player and perform?
  • To learn and develop as a young man or woman?
  • To be emotionally OK?
  • To be physically safe?


Pay attention to situations where a teenager is particularly stressed or vulnerable and more support than you can provide is needed.  Act to get that support.

If suicide is an issue, there are two articles in the Specials section one for those who have a suicidal friend and one for those feeling suicidal themselves.