Coaching youth sports can be a very rewarding experience. Having the opportunity to work with young student athletes and help guide them to become better people is an experience that everybody should be lucky enough to have. However, no matter what level, coaching can sometimes become overwhelming. Sometimes people forget that coaching is more than just showing up, rolling the balls out and blowing a whistle once in awhile.
If you are considering coaching a youth sports team in the near future, there are a few simple concepts that you should consider. All of these ideas are very basic. However, they can be very crucial to your success. Coaches, who chose not to implement these ideas into their coaching philosophy, almost always fail.
Be honest and be yourself. Kids are not stupid. They will always find out sooner or later if you are lying to them. Don’t promise one of your players something you know you will not be able to deliver. Furthermore, don’t try to be a coach that you are not. If you are not a loud person do not try to be a loud coach. Your players will eventually figure out that you are not being honest with yourself and will quickly question your honesty towards them.
Do your homework. Learn the game that you are getting ready to coach. Yes, you may have played the sport yourself, but coaching is different. Learn drills, learn techniques, talk with other coaches, watch videos, read books and attending other coaches’ practices to pick up ideas. No matter what sport you are going to coach, the information is out there and available. You owe it to yourself and your players to learn as much as possible.
Be organized. Never show up for practice late with no idea on what you plan to do that day. If you are going to take on the responsibility of coaching youth sports, take it seriously. Organize your life so you have the time each night to sit down and put together a simple practice plan. Think about what your players need to improve on and decide how you are going to help them do so. Keep notes, keep attendance, have extra schedules with you, make sure your equipment is ready and safe and just do your best to think ahead.
Have a parent meeting. Parents can be very difficult for some coaches. However, parents can also be very helpful if handled correctly. Do not be scared of parents. In fact go to them before they come to you. Get them involved with what your doing. Have them organize team meals, pictures, fundraising or other activities that will benefit your players and let the parents feel involved.
Don’t play favorites. Sometimes this is easier said than done. Every coach has his or her favorites on the team. The trick is, make sure know one else can figure it out. Treat every player the same within reason. Set rules and guidelines for your players to follow and make everybody follow them. Don’t let little Billy get away with being late for practice because he is a great shooter. Some coaches will tell you that playing favorites is the number one mistake a coach can make. Even if it is not the number one mistake, it is a big mistake that will only lead to disaster.
Keep your cool. You are going to get upset. Sometimes you are going to get more than upset. Learn how to stay under control. It is ok from time to time for your players to see and know that you are angry. However, it is not ok for them to see it all the time. In order for your players to stay focused and under control, you need to be focused and under control. Yes everybody wants to win every night, but if you win without class, what’s the point.
Above all, have fun. Remember, unless you are professional coach the only real pay you are getting is the satisfaction of helping kids. Take your position and responsibility as a youth coach seriously, but remember to enjoy it. At the end of the season if you look back and do not remember having any fun, you have a choice to make. What can I do next season to ensure I enjoy it, or is it time to turn the position over to another coach?
Youth coaches play a very important role in the development of our children. When you decide to take on this role you need to be prepared for what you are about to experience. If you coach for one season or fifty seasons, you will face several good times and bad times. How you deal with and what you learn from both will determine your success.