Most people think one becomes a youth sports coach by volunteering and managing a team. Wearing a team hat and being the one that sets up the lineup does not make one a coach, but one in name only.
Youth Sports Coach Advice
The late, great John Wooden says that a coach is simply a teacher. I would agree but therein lies the problem. Most youth coaches do not know what it takes to be a teacher. People know the definition of a teacher as someone who shows or explains how to do something. No one disputes that explanation, but a couple of informal definitions of a teaching apply more for sports coaching. One, a teacher is a person who causes someone to learn or understand something by example or experience. Two, a teacher is one who helps someone less inclined to do something.
If one wants to know how to become a youth sports coach, they should follow those latter definitions, too. First, a coach must not only inform with words but through demonstration. Most important, they must be an example. Players take on the demeanor and attitudes of the coach, so their example sets the stage for developing quality people. Second, the having playing experience is important and the higher level one played the game helps with credibility, but just as important is having experience with working with the modern athlete.
Times change and so do kids. The techniques that worked years ago do not always work now. Kids play off attention and approval much more than years ago. Adults, who thrive on teaching by ignoring some players, negativity, and pressure, do not have the necessary approach to help youth. Finally, and maybe most important, teaching is convincing others of the necessity of doing things a certain way. Many kids and parents believe they know more than coaches these days, so coaches have their work cut out for them. That last point is paramount to successful youth coaching. It is not enough now to just convince athletes of what is needed. Involved parents, often called helicopter parents, who often believe the grass is always greener elsewhere, are a tough sell too.
Youth Sports Coach Tips to Be Excellent
To be a real youth sports coach, so to speak, people must have a game plan for becoming the best teacher they are capable of being. Following are the steps needed, so coaches earn the label, youth sports coach.
- Ask themselves why they want to coach to begin. Few wrong reasons exist outside of doing it for immoral purposes, but it is important to know one’s reasons from the beginning. Often, it is to help one’s child get ahead and despite what many think, that is OK. It is best when one knows that as their intention to coach. It is the implementation of coaching practices that make the difference, and one can have selfish intentions to coach and still do an excellent job.
- Think of a person or persons from their past, preferably a sports coach or two, whom they had great respect. Next, they should write down the positive character traits, mannerisms and words that were so efficient and memorable. Coaches should practice those things to incorporate into their teaching practices. Along the same lines, they should write down the things that the coaches they did not appreciate did, and make sure they avoid doing the same.
- Think back to one’s playing days and recall the things they liked and disliked at practices. They should think of ways to use the better practice techniques and of making the annoying things better. Keeping kids stimulated during practice is the key to coaching success.
- Get online, attend coaching clinics and read books to sharpen up on knowledge about the skill basics. Additionally, coaches should look for the best ways of teaching the skills. So much information is readily available online these days that no excuse exists for not being up to date with the best youth coaching practices.
- Read up about the modern athlete’s attitude. As mentioned, kids change from generation to generation and coaches should realize the coaching techniques when they grew up are not all applicable today.
- Make sure the answers to the following questions are all yes.
A. Do I have the time to coach?
B.Is my playing background in the sport adequate for the age of players and level of play?
C. Do I understand the expectations of parents for the level, their children, and the team?
D. Am I open to communication from others?
Those last queries are what separates the successful coaches from the rest at the youth levels. Coaches, who feel like they know it all, are in for a big surprise when dealing with parents, who also feel like they know it all. Coaches should not go into coaching with naivety or with an unwillingness to be open to input from others.
- Draw up a written coaching philosophy based on the above things. Coaches should have a blueprint to follow during the season, so they maintain perspective in the heat of the battles. They can add or detract from their written statement as they gain teaching experience.
- Understand the three key ingredients that all youth coaches should have:
A. A caring attitude – As mentioned above, coaches can be out to further their child’s progress in the sport as long as they care that all the other kid’s improve and work towards that end.
B. Patience – If coaches have little patience away from the fields that will not change on them. Coaches must have patience for their and the athletes sanity and enjoyment of sports.
C. Enthusiasm – When the coaches have little energy, it shows with bored kids who lose interest and give little effort.
Of course, so much more goes into coaching but the above gets one started on the path to becoming a youth sports coach more than in name only. Finally, coaches should strive to have well-coached teams, as that is under their control, more than winning is. The great coaches understand that winning is a by-product of doing things the right way and having talented athletes.
Jack Perconte has dedicated his post-major league baseball career to helping youth. He has taught baseball and softball for the past 27 years. His playing, coaching and parenting stories help create better experiences for athletes and parents. Jack has written over a thousand articles on coaching baseball and youth sports. Jack is the author of “The Making of a Hitter” and “Raising an Athlete.” His third book “Creating a Season to Remember” is in the works. Jack is a featured writer for Baseball the Magazine. You can also find Jack Perconte at YouTube with over 80 fun and innovative baseball instructional videos.