You are a Life Coach Too – Accept It
When a youth sport’s coach understands they are a life coach as well as a sports coach, they can change lives. Maybe I am overly naive when I say that, but I look at my teaching of baseball and softball as just one small aspect of coaching. I like to think that many of the things I teach help players to mature and deal with future life situations. Sure, I would like to see my students go home and practice more and have great success on the diamond, but more important is learning the lesson of hard work and that results only come with a great work ethic and dedication to a goal.
If I can help an athlete learn the value of hard work, I have done my job no matter how successful they are hitting a ball. It is vital that youth coaches realize that they are not just teaching sports, but also showing life lessons to athletes.
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Most kids will not play sports into high school and probably not beyond that level, but the lessons learned from youth sports help them throughout their lives. Many parents expect their kid’s coaches to be the ones to provide the life lessons and blame their child’s coach for not doing this or that. First and foremost, it’s a parent’s job to teach them. Of course, the best case scenario has sports coaches who reinforce the lessons learned at home. It is a huge bonus when a player has a coach with high life values. Parents should seek those type coaches for their young athletes.
Unfortunately, many parents and coaches are not prepared to handle challenging sport’s issues and fail to be the valuable life coach that kids need. For those who are up to the challenge, being a life coach for kids will not only make a difference in kid’s lives but their lives, too. Adults get a great sense of purpose after helping athletes develop into productive adults.
Along with teaching solid work ethic, here are three other areas where being a life coach in sport is imperative.
The Life Coach helps athletes deal with adversity
Everyone has to learn how to deal with losing and frustration, and there is nowhere better to get that education than in sports. Very few athletes cruise through youth sports with nothing but success and as star players. Parents, who are there to explain the vicissitudes of games, provide the positive life coaching that kids will use the rest of their lives. Those two words, “are there” make all the difference and is the whole key to being the life coach that kids need and deserve. Being physically present at youth athletes’ games is nice, but even more important is being present before and after games to talk with kids and to observe their reactions to sporting issues.
When informing kids to forget errors and strikeouts, I am teaching them that failure is inevitable. At the same time, I ask them what they learned from their failed attempt. What is essential is that kids accept the defeats, learn from them, move on determined to become mentally stronger.
The Life Coach helps youth deal with adults
This situation is one of the most common issues in youth sports – people taking the attention away from the games and kids. Those people may be a parent or coach. They have a delusional perspective of what youth sports should be, and they take away the joy of playing for kids. Helping kids deal with people who have a negative outlook is necessary. Learning how to handle negative, authority figures is valuable and the sign of a great life coach. Adults, coaches or parents, who are not there in this type situation, often see a kid’s desire to play sports disappear and see kids who learn not to trust adults.
Kids are more aware of adult actions than people think, and it is essential that coaches explain situations to players in ways that can help them make sense of episodes of poor sportsmanship.
The life coach helps youth deal with bad teammates
There often exist bullies, cliques, and lousy attitude players on teams who create a divisive atmosphere. Simply put, some teammates are not positive influences for any number of reasons. It is crucial for coaches to help kids through harmful peer situations. That education helps them learn to handle future life relationships.
At the same time, coaches have to work with the poor attitude athletes. Turning hard to coach players around is a challenge a coach should embrace. When they have success with those kids, coaches have changed someone’s life and should be proud of that forever.
Observant adults will find numerous other life teaching moments that will benefit kids. At the end of the day, a sports coach and life coach should be the same person.
Jack Perconte has dedicated his post-major league baseball career to helping youth. He has taught baseball and softball for the past 28 years. His playing, coaching and parenting stories 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 now available. Jack is a featured writer for Baseball the Magazine. You can also find Jack Perconte on YouTube with over 120 fun and innovative baseball instructional videos.