Necessary Coaching Training Tips
I have heard this statement many times over the years, “He/she (the coach) is an idiot.” This sentiment usually comes from a disgruntled player or parent when the coach does not meet their expectations. I never like it when anyone is called an idiot, especially someone who often is volunteering, but having been involved with youth sports for the last thirty years, I realize that they may have a point. Without coaching training, this situation and sentiment will never go away.
For examples, here are some of the things I’ve witnessed on the playing fields.
The coach of an eleven-year-old team who wanted to win a tournament so severely that he neglected to tell one of his weaker players what time the championship game was, so he didn’t have to play him.
Numerous coaches who played their child at a position because that was the place he wanted him to play, even though others were more qualified for the spot.
The coach benched her son because he did not seem to be hustling the way she wanted him to.
A coach spit at an umpire, and another one invited the referee to meet him in the parking lot after the match.
A fight between two coaches on the sidelines and they were coaching the same team.
Here is a compelling, true story of a coaching situation that had a surprising ending.
A team was sloshing its way through the season, generally playing uninspired ball. The head coach was very negative, screaming at every little mistake in a demeaning manner. That negative attitude filtered its way down through the team, parents, other coaches and the entire program. Not a lot of fun was taking place. The head coach’s dad came to a game excited and proud to watch his son as a head coach. After the post-game talk with more of the negativity, the coach’s dad came around the corner.
He walked right up to his son, and pointing at him said, “You are exactly the coach that you hated to play for when you were growing up. Remember when you were a kid and you would come home after games and be so upset about how the coach treated you and the team. Now, you are that coach.”
Of course, there are times when the kids or parents are the idiots, and their perception of their coach is incorrect, but that is a story for another day. Youth sports could go a long way towards eliminating this “idiot” perception of coaches with the proper coaching training. Properly trained coaches give kids the positive sports experience they deserve.
The necessary thing is to identify what separates good coaches from idiot coaches. Great coaches have more and essential knowledge of the sport, are great motivators and have the respect of their players. Gaining an advanced understanding of competition is not easy, nor necessary for the youth level. Still, all youth coaches can improve in the area of inspiring youth to reach their potential and being a positive role model. Improving in these areas are reasonable and reachable expectations for youth coaches.
Parents of youth athletes should demand that their leagues provide “how-to work with kids training,” for all coaches, to ensure a positive sports experience for all and elimination of the coaching idiots. Coaching training is a significant endeavor when it comes to the busy schedule of all involved and the entire abolition of bad coaching is impossible. Many books like “Creating a Season to Remember” are available to give coaches the training they need.
Additionally, the availability and use of the internet these days makes the training task much more accessible. Getting coaches to be willing to take the coaching training, learn from it, and implement the knowledge is another story. That may be where the idiot part takes effect, I guess. Many youth coaches believe they have all the answers, but in reality, they have never had an ounce of training on how to efficiently coach youth.
Most coaches get the idiot label, fairly or not, because of the perception of being unfair. When they do not give enough playing time to all the players or seemingly play kids out of position, they may get the unfair call-out. Coaches who can follow the following guidelines can go a long way towards becoming the role model they can be and may avoid getting the idiot label.
Coaching Training Tips to be the coach you set out to be
- Spell out their philosophy on as many areas as possible at season’s start, especially in potentially contentious areas like playing time and missed practices. Coaches should write down their coaching philosophy and refer to it during the season to make sure they are living up to it.
- Help every player on the team equally, not just his or her child or the better players. Kids, as well as parents, recognize unfairness, and it’s a great way to lose respect from others.
- Have an equal playing time rule throughout the season.
- Have sufficient knowledge of skill and game strategy to help players of that particular age level.
- Be aware of the safety issues involved and always put the players’ health first. Knowing how to keep practices safe and being aware of common injuries and treatment is mandatory.
- Knowing the difference between playing to win and playing to win at all costs is necessary for today’s game. Many coaches get caught up in the must-win goal and forget that is not why kids play the game.
- Teach the fundamentals and strategy of sport with understanding and patience while recognizing the difference between effort and results as well as the difference between physical and mental mistakes.
Other Coaching Training Tips for Success
- Remain enthusiastic about the sport and coaching, no matter how bad the team or individuals play. Enthusiasm is contagious, and it helps overcome boredom and cynicism that often develops among players and parents.
- Understand that negativity, displayed in any form, is unacceptable coaching behavior. Kids respond to encouragement much more than ridicule, even if the latter works in the short run.
- Demonstrate sportsmanship, fairness, and leadership at all times, while developing these qualities in players, also. The second part of that is what separates the best coaches, the ability to transfer the “right attitude” to others.
- Always keep the lines of communication open among players, other coaches, and parents. The “my way or the highway” approach to coaching that was prominent years ago does not work anymore. Players and parents want a say in everything, which may seem wrong at times, too, but coaches must adapt to the changing times.
Youth coaches should pay extra attention to point number 7, as that is a significant step in eliminating issues as the season progresses. The ability to remain upbeat no matter the circumstance by keeping the focus on player development will overcome most disgruntled people.
Finally, people should not expect coaches to have a vast knowledge of the fundamentals and strategies of sport as advanced coaches do. Still, expectations of a positive, fun, hardworking coach are practical and the goal of coaching training.