A regulation technique we teach is to answer the question: “How’s your engine running?”
If the answer is “slow”, they turn a dial on a paper plate speedometer to blue; if the answer is
“too fast”, the dial goes to red. If all is calm, and they’re just right, the dial lands on green.
For teens in the coaching program with Back2Back Cincinnati, they are asked to use a small basketball hoop and answer the question, “How’s your heart running?”
If their hearts run fast, they shoot the red basketball; if their hearts run slow, they shoot the blue basketball; and if they are comfortable with how their heart is running , they shoot the green basketball. “It was one of the first things we taught the kids,” shared Chris Cox, Back2Back staff. “We wanted them to communicate with their peers and adults, using accessible tools.” Teens appreciate how easy this check-in makes communication. When they walk in, without needing words, they can communicate to safe adults how they’re feeling. “The coaches are already in the room and watching which basketball they shoot. They can immediately assess how to best serve the teens.”
It started as a check in, but now is how they build community. Gathered at the same table, they ask each other, “Hey, why did you shoot red today?” In doing so, they feel seen and work to understand each other. This builds interdependence. “They’re receiving and giving the opportunity to put words to their emotions,” shared Chris.
The teens eventually connect individually with their coaches and grow holistically through those relationships. From learning how to budget money, to making a schedule for themselves and their activities, the teens are accountable for their own success. “We see stories of hope in the most chaotic and overwhelming year, but it’s birthing a generation of new leaders,” shared Chris.
Twelve interns are working with Back2Back Cincinnati this summer and eight of them are actively being coached themselves. They were invested in over the last year and are now taking what they’ve learned and investing in others.
The space originally created for adults to coach young men and women has now become a community where students are coaching each other. Together, they are breaking barriers down and choosing to invest back in the communities they call home.