How Does Your Coach Stack Up When it Comes to Leading Kids?
Today’s youth and interscholastic coaches wear a lot of hats, including teaching kids how to play their best, ensuring safety measures are prioritized, and putting out fires with upset parents. Rarely are any two days close to being the same for a coach, and while duties and expectations will vary from coach to coach, there are a few important qualities parents should reasonably expect from the coach. This week I explore 5 specific job duties/expectations of coaches so you can see how your child’s coach scores.
- Safety. While no coach can guarantee injuries won’t take place over the course of a sports season, coaches can employ the latest safety measures in practices and games to mitigate many potentially dangerous situations from developing. Is your child’s coach up to date with continuing education training, especially with respect to adequate equipment, safe playing conditions, and appropriate first aid?
- Integrity. Playing with integrity is an integral part of sportsmanship, and coaches at all levels should be modeling integrity at all times. Does your child’s coach abide by the rules, model pro-social behaviors, respect the opponent and officials, and serve as a positive role model?
- Teaching. Sports provide countless teachable moments where kids can learn how to develop self-confidence, sharpen focus, build leadership skills, and work together to learn team-building skills — all of these skills can be parlayed to the classroom, future careers, and all other life endeavors and the coach is an important person who can make all this happen. Does your child’s coach embrace the goal of teaching kids life lessons through sports?
- Encouragement. Another often unnoticed part of coaching is bringing positive energy to every practice and game, and encouraging student athletes to do the same. Great coaches are optimistic, supportive, and provide opportunities for kids to learn and grow so that they can continually improve, both on and off the field. Does your child’s coach provide encouragement to kids, as well as support them as they work hard to improve?
- Communication. Communication is a key component to any team’s success, and it is the coach who sets the tone when it comes to creating open dialogue among coaches and players. Does your child’s coach allow for questions, and for kids and parents to solicit feedback to learn how to earn more playing time in the future? While it may be unrealistic to expect the coach to immediate respond to every call and email, the coach should respond in a reasonable amount of time and provide specific insights so that your child can grow and improve as the season progresses.
It is important for parents to be realistic with their expectations with coaches, and recognize that coaching is not an easy job. Not only are coaches often expected to be successful on the field, they are also asked to perform duties off the field that sometimes go unnoticed by kids and parents (i.e. working on the field, hiring officials, collecting fees, etc.). At the same time, it is reasonable to expect that those adults who pursue coaching act in responsible ways that model appropriate behaviors, and that they provide ongoing feedback to kids for future improvement. The qualities discussed in this article should be used as a general guide, and not an absolute test of “good and bad” coaches. Remember, many coaches volunteer their time, and others are being paid very little when you consider all the time they devote to the job as coach. Try to find the balance of giving coaches room for growth and error, but at the same time holding up minimal standards.