A big difference exists with coaching non-competitive and beginning youth sports and with coaching travel ball and highly competitive youth sports. Many coaches volunteer or start their own teams without the qualifications for coaching youth. Before coaching youth sports, adults and parents should ask these questions so they coach for the right reasons and so they do not get into the season completely under qualified to coach.
Questions to answer before coaching youth sports that are non-competitive
Most adults qualify at this level, as long as they can say yes to the following.
Do I have a background in the sport? No one should expect an expert coach, but some experience with having played the sport is necessary.
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Do I have the time to devote for games and practices for the level played? As mentioned, a difference exists with the various levels of youth sport with time commitments dependent on the level of play.
Do I have patience with others? Patience is paramount with coaching youth, especially with one’s own child and with less experienced athletes.
Questions before coaching youth sports for older and more advance levels
As the intensity and age of players increases saying yes to more questions, are necessary.
Am I flexible and open to communication from others? No place exists for a my way or highway type person, youth sports is not professional sport.
Do I have a grasp of other player parent expectations for the level played – understanding parent expectations is important, as that is the most common source of coaching headaches.
Do I have the proper perspective for the age of player and the level being played? There is no shame in realizing one does not work well with that age player, but shame may result when adults volunteer and find out they do not work well with that age child.
Will coaching my son or daughter be a positive thing? Most youth coaches come from the ranks of parents of youth, but parents, who have a contentious relationship at home when working with their child, should not believe that relationship changes by coaching the team. Once again, no shame exists when one’s child does not listen to their parent when it comes to sports instruction, as some kids just prefer learning to play from non – parents, for whatever reasons. Careful analysis of their child’s behavior and wishes is important before volunteering to coach.
Do I display enthusiasm for teaching and the sport? Many coaches begin with this enthusiasm and allow it to dissipate. Many of these once enthusiastic coaches turn negative or forget to continue teaching as the season progresses. Teams often take on the attitude of their coach and an unenthusiastic coach will turn into an unenthusiastic team.
Do I look for opportunities to teach teamwork and sportsmanship? Seeking examples of teamwork and sportsmanship should be a consistent coaching philosophy with coaches always on the lookout for sportsmanship, or the lack of it, on their team, on other teams and in the news. Fairness to each player for playing time and positions is the number one complaint in youth sports. Coaching only to help one’s own son or daughter is not a reason to coach.
For the good of all, coaching youth sports requires trained coaches, so leagues should provide coaching training for all their coaches.