There’s no overestimating the value of a great coach. Coaches help shape the character of their players at a young age, helping them develop everything from healthy habits to interpersonal skills. What’s more, they also play a huge role in whether or not your kid actually sticks with the sport. In other words, in terms of your child’s overall enjoyment and performance, a great coach makes all the difference.
Here are a few things that you should keep an eye out for in a coach:
A great coach has high-energy enthusiasm for the sport. This energy is what keeps kids interested and focused as they grow their skills. Energetic coaches make the game fun and exciting, whether players win or lose—which can be a big deciding factor in their overall enjoyment.
Every game has its ups and downs, and every player has his good and bad days—but the best coaches work hard to limit any negativity, especially anything directed at players. All critiques should be done in a constructive way, teaching through encouragement and positive reinforcement. The most important thing to look for is someone who praises players, rewarding them for good gameplay rather than tearing them down for mistakes.
The outcome of a game depends on the skills and decisions of not only the players but also the coach. Great coaches share the responsibility for each match, rather than blaming players for an unwanted outcome.
The drive to win, to compete, is important in any game—and it’s just as important for coaches as it is for the players on the field. A coach should always want to win the game, and they should be able to motivate players in the same way. At the same time, it’s also crucial for a good coach to still strike a balance between that ambition and a sense of healthy competition and fun.
Willingness to learn
It should come as no surprise that the best coaches are constantly looking to further their own knowledge. Game techniques, safety strategies, and health research all change gradually over time, so it’s important for coaches not to walk onto the field each time thinking they know it all. On a related note, good coaches are also receptive to feedback, whether from parents or from the players themselves.
Appreciation for the values and importance of youth sports
The truth is, most kids won’t go beyond high school sports participation. For them, the game isn’t about lifelong dedication, but about competition and fun. What’s important, then, is the good values they learn from taking part in the sport, and the ways their character develops. A great coach will keep this in mind.
A good rapport with players
Kids respond much better to coaching when they have a good rapport with the coach. Coaches should understand their players on a fundamental level, knowing where they’re coming from and how they’re feeling. The relationship between the coach and players should be positive and productive in order to bring players to their full potential.
Coaches are in a unique position to help players grow and learn, so it’s important to find one who truly understands the opportunity they’ve been given. The right coach can help create disciplined, enthusiastic, and skilled players—so be sure to look for one who possesses all of the skills above.