Youth sports teams excel through great team leadership and role modeling, and that almost always starts with the coach (Sports Success 360). In best-case scenarios, good coaches create an optimal sporting environment where young athletes play safely, have fun, and develop both on the field athletically as well as off the field through character development learned through sports.
Unfortunately, coaches who blow off the significance and importance of positive coaching can negatively impact the overall sport experience for kids, often leading to a lack of fun for kids, increased likelihood for injuries, and possibly even premature quitting from sports altogether.
Since youth coaches at the little league and pop warner levels are almost always volunteers, it is important to examine if taking on the responsibility of being a coach is a good fit before signing up to lead a team. Quite a bit goes into coaching – even at the youth level – so ask yourself the following questions and see how you stack up:
1. Are you invested in coaching for the right reasons? If you are dedicated to helping kids grow and develop through sports by teaching them life skills, maintaining healthy training methods, and instructing them on how to develop athletic skills, then you are probably well on your way to becoming a good coach! If, on the other hand, your main focus is winning championships, you might want to look at other, more advanced coaching opportunities instead of youth sports.
2. Does your schedule allow for the time commitment required from coaching? Youth sports can be a time-consuming experience when you factor in meetings, practices, and games, so check your schedule ahead of time before committing to coach to make sure you can fulfill your responsibilities to the team.
3. Are you motivated to take on the challenge of being a coach? While it would be nice to simply “show up” and play, sports teams require quite a bit of effort form the coach. More specifically, coaches have to evaluate talent, inspire and motivate kids to compete, help kids deal with adversity, and of course, deal with parents.
4. Can you make the experience fun for kids? Above and beyond all else, the number one reason why kids play sports is to have fun! As a coach, it is your responsibility to ensure the sport environment you create for the kids you coach is a fun and exciting place, and that you work hard to ensure that your team environment isn’t too “business-like.”
5. Do you communicate well, and can you handle criticism? When coaching kids you will soon learn that they don’t always communicate the same way as adults, making it difficult sometimes to truly know what’s bothering them. Good coaches find ways to develop unique relationships with their kids, which allows for trusting, meaningful conversations to take place. Coaches should also be prepared for parents who “Monday morning quarterback” and second guess the coaches decisions in games. If you have a short-fuse and are not willing to take criticism, coaching might not be the best place for you to spend your time.
Pick up your copy of the Mental Toughness Guide to Athletic Success HERE!