Most youth leagues across the country are hard pressed to find good, responsible, volunteer youth sport coaches — but that doesn’t mean that just any adult with free time should apply. In fact, the “job” of being a youth sport coach comes with countless duties and responsibilities, and can essentially make (or break) the overall experience for kids on the team. In best-case scenarios youth sport coaches provide leadership, guidance, support, encouragement, and empathy when needed — all characteristics that help with both on- and off-field success.
Obviously a simple 5 question online test (like the one you are about to take) is not the only way to gauge whether you should become a youth sports coach, but it can help you direct your focus toward some of the most important considerations future coaches will likely encounter.
Answer true or false for the following sport psychology questions:
1. I still have many personal unmet sports goals (or “unfinished business”) that often pushes me to push the kids I coach (T or F)
2. Parent meetings are a waste of time and unnecessary – and so is meeting with parent’s to discuss their child’s sports progress (T or F)
3. At times it is necessary to embarrass and humiliate kids in order to get them to play their best (T or F)
4. Hazing isn’t nearly as serious as some think, so I don’t mind if kids have private team building rituals that are unsupervised (T or F)
5. Poor officials deserve to be berated and I think its perfectly OK to get in a bad referee’s face when necessary (T or F)
1. False. It is important for youth sport coaches to work out all of their own “unfinished business” before they go into coaching for a number of reasons. If you have unmet sports goals that still impact your way of life today, including your thinking and/or the way you teach kids, it is important you find ways to accept the past and move on for the future (consider sport psychology counseling if needed). Unfortunately, some adults go into coaching for their own personal reasons and immediately push young athletes harder than they ever pushed themselves simply to fulfill their own unmet sports goals. Not only is this unfair to the kids, but not healthy for the coach, either.
2. False. Connecting with parents and building rapport is not the same as allowing parents to run your team! Coaches who take the time to conduct a pre-season meeting where team rules and expectations are covered often benefit in many ways, which all funnel into a better overall team experience. Similarly, coaches who help parents in turn help their kids improve in sports run into far fewer complaints around “politics,” and fewer fires to put out as a result.
3. False. It is never acceptable to purposely embarrass or humiliate kids under any condition, and especially not because a kid didn’t perform a sport skill proficiently. In fact, coaches who do this are likely struggling with the issues associated with question #1 (unfinished business). Make it a point to use positive reinforcement to help guide kids and shape sports skills, and steer clear of doing things that could damage kids emotionally.
4. False. Hazing is a very dangerous endeavor and leads to countless injuries, and sometimes even death. In fact, often it is the emotional damage kids suffer (which isn’t as easily seen) that is worse than the physical pain associated with the hazing act. It is for these reasons that coaches do whatever they can to steer kids toward safe team building activities (like video game night) as opposed to unsupervised dangerous hazing acts.
5. False. Officials are human and will make mistakes — especially at the youth-sport level. It is for this reason that it is important for coaches to keep it in check at all times. This doesn’t mean you can’t question calls, but it does mean you need to act responsibly and refrain from using profanity, degrading insults, and any form of physicality when dealing with a bad call. Keep in mind kids model their coaches, and we all know yelling, screaming, and pushing is not a good way to problem solve.
For more information on these topics (and more) check out the most comprehensive sport education online today – Sport Success 360.