Youth Coaching Assumptions that Lead to Trouble
I could have easily titled this article 20 assumptions, or more, that youth coaches should not make, because many things that coaches assume will go one way, often do not. Experienced coaches learn to assume little in the ever-changing landscape of youth sports. However, coaches should avoid these assumptions for sure, so they are not stunned with things they assumed would go in a different way.
Assumptions Coaches should not Make
1. Parents will not be a problem – the greatest parents in the world, even those who are great friends of the coach, can change when it is their child involved. Communication is always a key to avoid upsetting situations, so coaches should try to be upfront with thoughts and plans with parents, by anticipating decisions that may be upsetting to players or parents. Coaches have earned the right to make the big decisions, but not every parent agrees or understands that. With easy means of communication now, coaches can avoid confrontations with early and considerate communication. For example, letting parents know ahead of time that you feel there child would benefit with a little break, bench time that is, and why, is a good idea, so they are not stunned when arriving at the game.
2. Other coaches will play fair – along the same lines as above, opposition coaches may seem like great people, out for the players, but that may be the problem – they are out for their players, not necessarily your players. Coaches should not be surprised when opposition coaches, morph into jerk or win at all cost coaches. The ability to maintain perspective and treat those type situations as good teaching moments is a sign of a good coach. Allowing oneself to be caught up in another coach’s style is not a good thing.
3. Players will not bolt your team – in this day of travel ball and ever changing leagues and new team formation, coaches should not assume their team would stay intact, at least with the same players. So many people think things are always greener somewhere else and bolt teams, without regard to friendships and loyalty. This phenomena is common at any level of sport, from professional level on down.
4. Players will practice at home – coaches do not have enough practice time to work on individual skills all the time, with so much game strategy necessary, so having players willing to practice on their own helps. However, player dedication and difficulty practicing on own are issues. It is important to get parents involved with helping kids practice or paying for private lessons, at times.
5. Teenage players will like you or act interested in what you have to say – this is a little tongue in cheek, but I get a kick out of how the nicest kids in the world, change into the enemy with adult coaches, for a year or two. Getting a smile or laugh out of teenage players requires great coaching skill. The good news is that teenage players turn back into attentive players again, after the change of life occurs.
As mentioned, so many other youth coaching assumptions could have made an expanded list, as which players are paying attention and which players play with confidence. All of these coaching assumptions lead to a “never-a-dull youth coaching experience.”