A Note to Coaches:

What is Confidence for an Athlete?

Maybe you have heard a coach tell an athlete, “All you need is confidence” or “Just be confident out there!”  In this way the coach is really trying to develop a feeling in the athlete — which will cause him to raise himself up, demand the ball, play more aggressively, or perform some such action.

The problem with this perspective is that confidence cannot be demanded or instructed; it must be built from within, upon a solid and unshakeable        foundation.  In order for a person to act upon a conviction, that belief must be deeply rooted; a passing emotion or whim will not cause a person to act      confidently.  Confidence, thus, is not a feeling; it is a firmly-held belief that displays itself in action.  Moreover, this belief, if not put into practice, is not true confidence; the action itself is what defines confidence.

One day God told Abraham to take his son, Isaac — his only son, the one through whom God said all nations of the earth would be blessed — and to sacrifice him as a burnt offering.  Abraham was confident that because God has promised things for Isaac that had not yet been accomplished, Isaac would  return with him.  Thus, Abraham obeyed God; he took his son up the       mountain, bound him and placed him on the altar, and prepared to sacrifice him to God).  Abraham’s belief was evidenced in his action.

Another truth about the nature of confidence is its basis upon something done in the past.  The Apostle Paul, in Philippians 1:6, wrote that he was “confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”  Paul’s hope for the future is based on the work that God has done in the past — and his belief (evidenced in his acts of service to God) that God will continue that work in the hearts and lives of His people.  Thus they, too, can live with that same commitment of confidence.

Coaches, you are entrusted with the task, then, of helping your athletes to grow in their relationship with Christ — that their confidence in Him will take root in their lives, grow, and impact their daily habits of practice, play, and living.

Throughout your season, we encourage you to encourage your athletes of this — that God has promised to carry His work in their lives to completion (Philippians 1:6).  This means that, through their athletic participation, God is accomplishing His purpose in their lives.  This will not always be easy,      comfortable, or enjoyable; the process will not necessarily be quick, clear of setbacks, or easy to understand.  However, amidst all of these potential       difficulties (and the wonderful blessings that come along with them), their whole lives are being improved.

How to Use the Wellspring of Life Program

This booklet is a season-long “coaching curriculum” for use in leading your team in pursuing the discipline of confidence.  Coaches should keep the following principles and suggestions in mind, as they use the material:

We have provided enough material and activities for an entire 15-week season.  If your season is shorter than 15 weeks, you can preview the material and decide which weeks you will use to fit the length of your season.  If your season happens to run longer than 15 weeks, you may be able to extend a single week’s material over a two-week span (when necessary), or you could challenge your team to extend its study of confidence by identifying additional passages and discussing those together.  For most teams, the length of this booklet should suffice to cover their seasons.

Coaches, we encourage you to make time for discipline training each day.    We’ve organized the weekly sections with an intent for you to spend    approximately 5-7 minutes on this daily — thus allowing you to make time for this important focus in your daily routines, without having to  sacrifice extensive practice time in order to do so.  If you’re going to be intentional about making your team’s athletic experience something that encourages spiritual growth, you need to build this into your daily   routines.  All coaches see practice time as a priority, and game days are busy for every team; don’t allow your habits to lead to neglect.  If you define your sport as having value only in itself (if you fail to discipline your players for godliness), your players may be likely to define their value and success only through their athletic accomplishments.

Build in time for discipline training not only on practice days, but also on game days; you can set aside time before your games to do so, and it’s important that you don’t miss important parts of each week’s study (which will happen if you don’t make this a daily routine).  Please be sure to be consistent in this; don’t allow other things to become such a priority that your athletes begin to see their submission to discipline as less important than their athletic pursuits.

Train and encourage your team to continually seek answers and truth in Scripture, as you explore the discipline of confidence together.  Each week’s challenge is based upon a passage of Scripture, and the discussion      questions are designed to lead your athletes back to that passage, in order to search it for understanding and application.  Don’t allow your athletes to base their answers on “their own perspective” or “common sense”, but instead always lead them back to Scripture.  This is a habit that will serve them well throughout their lives, and will help them to grow in their    relationship with God.  “Like newborn babes, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation.” (1 Peter 2:2)

It’s also important for you to understand the structure of each week’s activities, as well as the purpose for each day.  The following explanation and suggestions should help you to develop a routine that will be effective for your team.

· MONDAY:  Read the Scripture passage with your team.

Each week you’ll read one or more Scripture passages that relate to the Biblical concept of confidence.  The truth of Scripture will help to “set the stage” for your times of discussion and application during the rest of the week.

You can accomplish this time of Scripture reading in a number of ways.  Some coaches may just read to their teams; we have printed each entire passage in this booklet, so that you’ll have them available for this purpose.  Other coaches may prefer to involve their players in the reading — having their players bring their Bibles to practice (to read together), or having a particular player read the passage to the team each week.  However you decide to handle this, be sure that (after you have read the passage) you spend just a few minutes talking together with your team about how the passage relates to the discipline of   confidence — and why that should be important to them.

Remember that one of the primary purposes of the Wellspring of Life Initiative is to encourage your athletes to develop a daily habit of spending time in Scripture.  For this reason, we highly encourage you to obtain booklets for each team member, or to photocopy each week’s material for your players; this will allow and encourage them to spend time on their own reading and consider the implications of Scripture.  For your athletes to truly grow in their relationship to Jesus Christ, they must develop the habit of daily spending time in His Word.  “For the word of God is living and  active.  Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12)  Do not overlook the value of encouraging your athletes to spend time reading Scripture; this will be a habit that will produce spiritual growth throughout their lifetimes.

· TUESDAY / WEDNESDAY / THURSDAY:  Discuss the Scripture  passage with your team.

“Be transformed by the renewing of your mind.  Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is — His good, pleasing and perfect will.” (Romans 12:2) - This three-day section of the weekly program contains discussion questions and challenges for your athletes.  Your team will spend these days considering what God’s Word has to say about confidence.

Coaches, you will present a question (or set of questions) to your team each day.  (After your warm-up, while your athletes are stretching, is a great time for this...or you may want to open or close practice each day with this time.)  Because you have access to the weekly Scripture passages in your booklet, you will be able to review or refer to the portions of each Scripture passage that relate to the discussion questions for that day (we’ve tried to make reference to those in the questions).  Be sure to do so, in order that your athletes can engage in a meaningful, Biblical discussion about these issues.  Remember that their own opinions often may not reflect the truths of Scripture, so bringing them back to the Biblical text is very important.

We encourage you, coaches, to take the time to challenge your players beyond a superficial discussion of confidence.  When the questions ask them to make    personal application, encourage them to share their thoughts. Set an example by being willing to share your own thoughts and experiences, and to make 

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