Coach the Coach

In the world of youth sports, good coaches can be hard to come by. Many leagues believe they lack the knowledge and means necessary to attract and retain good coaches, but that doesn’t have to be the case. By using a training program that covers all the pertinent topics in coaching youth sports, finding -– and keeping –- the best youth sports coaches doesn’t have to be a challenge.

“You don’t have to be an NFL Pro Bowler to coach youth football,” says Fred Engh, founder and CEO of the National Alliance For Youth Sports, a national nonprofit whose areas of focus include youth sports coach and parent training, “but it is necessary that coaches know the basic principles of the sport they are coaching, and more importantly, the proper way to work with children. That way, kids are more apt to stay involved in sports and fitness, which leads to healthier and more productive lives.”

Many times, the number of leagues needing coaches far surpasses the number of available volunteer coaches, sometimes called “warm-body syndrome.” However, it is important not to catch this, and to make sure you find coaches who are willing to take the time to learn about and dedicate themselves to the important charge of working with children.

Training is one of the best ways to ensure that a youth sports coach is contributing to positive, safe sports experiences. Regardless of whether coaches are working with a soccer team of six-year-old girls or a group of 15-year-old football players, they are going to encounter a variety of challenges throughout the course of a season. They must know how to effectively communicate with youngsters who have vastly different personalities, backgrounds, talents and skill levels, and have sound methods for dealing with meddling parents and volatile fellow coaches.

Beyond issues of communication, they must also acquire nuts-and-bolts skills such as basic first aid and the design of effective practices. among the many vital areas that often are foreign territory for volunteers.

Training Program Components

When implementing a training program, it is important to make sure that the following subjects are covered:

• Development of a coaching philosophy. Every volunteer coach’s philosophy should be centered on fun and good sportsmanship. This is often easier said than done, since good intentions can be shoved aside once the season begins and scoreboards, league standings and championship trophies enter the picture. Coaches have to maintain their focus on the kids -– not win-loss records –- and avoid directing all of their attention at those who run faster, jump higher or catch better.

• How to be an effective teacher and communicator. One of the most important characteristics of being a good coach is the ability to teach. This means being able to present information clearly and correctly, giving children time to practice, and offering them feedback on how well they perform. A good coach must be able to identify both efficient and inefficient performances, as well as analyze and correct any errors. Being able to do so will help players develop the skills that are necessary to perform in a competitive environment. It’s important to choose drills that involve as many players and variety of skills as possible.

• Keeping expectations realistic. Coaches must take the age, experience and conditioning level of their athletes into consideration before placing any expectations on them. A coach should not fall into the trap of expecting players to learn everything that they know about the sport during the relatively short amount of time that seasons typically last. Coaches should stay focused on the basics while building each child’s skills.

• Being fair to all players. An overwhelming majority of today’s volunteer coaches –- more than 85 percent –- coach teams on which their own sons or daughters participate. Coaching your own child can be tricky at times, but if it is handled properly, it can be an extremely rewarding experience for both the coach and child. It’s a natural tendency for some coaches to show preferential treatment toward their own children, perhaps by providing them with extra playing time, giving them more attention during practices or putting them in charge of special tasks. On the other hand, some coaches have the opposite reaction toward their children, and will go out of their way to avoid displaying preferential treatment.

Page 1 of 3 | Next page

Related posts:

  1. Training A Coach
  2. Here’s Your Chance To Rate Youth Coaches
  3. Good Sports
  4. An Even Playing Field
  5. The More Things Change…
  • Columns
  • Departments