A Note to Coaches

What is Integrity for an Athlete?

Integrity.  What do we mean when we use this word?  We hear it used as a description of an honorable person.  “He is a man of integrity.”  Is this praise merely a vague way to describe the way someone lives, or does integrity have a more significant meaning?  Scripture identifies Job as a man of integrity.  How did he earn such a distinguished legacy?

My dictionary tells me that integrity is “adherence to a code of rules; honesty; utter sincerity; candor.”  The term is commonly used to describe someone who consistently lives according to the set of values that our society has deemed to be good.  Especially today, that standard is often based upon nothing more than what people decide is right (or sometimes simply acceptable) in their own eyes.

Throughout this study, you will lead your athletes to a more    Biblical understanding of integrity.  A study of Scripture allows us to define integrity as “living a life worthy of the calling you have received.”  We can, then, rightly appreciate integrity as living according to what you believe; but this discipline is not merely the act of strictly following a set of rules, but rather is a beautiful response to the awesome work that Christ has done in our lives.  Not merely duty, it is a response to the lavish love that has been poured out on us.  The compulsion to give ourselves fully to that love is the integrity that can define our lives.

Unfortunately, integrity does not often accurately describe our culture’s popular athletes; in fact, it probably isn’t a quality that most athletes deeply desire.  As you and your teams embark on this study throughout your coming seasons, our hope is that you will develop a passion and a vision for being teams, coaches, and individual athletes that are known for their integrity on and off the playing field. 

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 integrity.  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 integrity 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 so that each day’s activity can be completed in approximately 5-7 minutes — 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 will 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 integrity 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 integrity.  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   integrity — and why that should be important to them.

Another VERY IMPORTANT part of each week’s activities is the distribution of the weekly athlete devotionals to your team.  (You can find information about how to obtain these devotionals in Appendix A of this booklet.)  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.  The weekly activities provided in this booklet are only one piece of the benefit of this program; for your athletes to truly grown 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 providing the weekly devotionals to your players; make them available and encourage your athletes to use them.

  • 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 integrity.

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.)  We’ve structured these discussion topics to be quick-hitting and limited to one concept each day — so that you won’t feel rushed or be tempted to think, “I don’t have time for this.”  Be sure 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); otherwise, your athletes will not be able to 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 integrity.  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 application to your own life.  If your athletes see your willingness to examine Scripture seriously and to open your life up to them, they will do the same with one another — and that will promote an environment in which they can spur one another on in growth in Christ.

· FRIDAY:  Discuss sport applications of integrity, and pray together.

This section of the weekly program is a time when you and your athletes will discuss together ways in which integrity can and should be exemplified in the arena of athletics.  It’s a time to ask your athletes, “What do the things we’ve learned this week about integrity have to do with athletics?  How does an athlete of integrity behave?” The goal is to help your athletes create a “picture” of what integrity means in the life of an athlete — which will identify habits and challenges that can be incorporated into each athlete’s daily routine.

Based upon each week’s discussion of integrity, you will lead your team in creating a description of an athlete of integrity.  This should be a list of “active phrases”, and you should add to that list each week (by asking the recurring question that we provide in the Friday section each week).  We encourage you to keep this list in front of the players (on a big sign on the wall of your practice gym, on your team web site, or somewhere else very visible) — so that the challenge of Biblical integrity will be presented to your athletes in an ongoing way throughout your season.

This list should not by generated solely by the coach; it should primarily be based on the ideas of the athletes.  Each week they should be challenged to think back over that week’s Scripture and discussions (the coach should help them to do this), and to answer the question, “Based on this understanding of integrity in Scripture, what does an athlete of integrity do?”  Do not settle for vague answers from your athletes; challenge them to go beyond general qualities of an athlete of integrity and to determine what those qualities look like in action.  What does an athlete of integrity do?

Friday is also a day for your team to pray together.  (You may need to allow a bit more time on Friday (maybe 10 minutes), in order to have time for the “athlete of integrity” discussion AND for prayer, but please do not sacrifice this time.)  This is a time for your team to reflect on the truths they’ve learned about integrity this week, to verbalize the commitments they’ve made, and to yearn and strive together in the presence of God.

The simplest way to accomplish this prayer time is to pray as one large group, and to encourage each athlete to pray as he feels led.  However, you can vary how you do this, if you’d like (small groups, prayer partners, asking seniors to take turns leading, etc).  Remember that your athletes will mature in their prayer life at differing times and various levels, because the accomplishment of the internal spiritual growth in each athlete’s life will be unique, according to God’s desire and timing.  Thus, don’t pressure an athlete to pray aloud.  As the leader of the team, a coach should set an example in genuine, fervent prayer; and to invite your athletes to join as they feel led.  One good way to do this is to begin by having one person open in prayer, follow that with a time of silence (during which others may pray), and then have the coach close in prayer.

An additional team activity (which relates to the goal of seeing your athletes apply the discipline of integrity within the realm of sport) is described in Appendix B of this booklet.  These materials are designed to challenge your athletes to set some integrity-related goals for the season, and to help athletes of different ages and levels of maturity to best identify expectations that are appropriate for them.

* * * * *

As you use the resources provided in the Wellspring of Life Initiative program, give careful consideration to what will best motivate your athletes to fully submit themselves to Christ in discipline, and challenge them firmly and lovingly to that end.  Help them to see their struggles as profitable; pray with them, encourage them, and always keep them grounded in and accountable to Scripture.

Thank you for your desire to see your athletes grow in their relationship with Jesus Christ — for your concern for their hearts, not just their athletic pursuits and outward behaviors.  Our staff prays for you regularly, and we are excited to see how God will use your efforts to accomplish His purpose in the lives of your athletes.

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TJ Chumps FairbornGrove City CollegeGrace Christian University