If we are honest, there are plenty of youth coaches out there that are not qualified for the job. This makes sense, especially since many youth coaches coach at the level because their kids are playing the sport. A good youth coach, however, is worth his or her weight in gold. They will push your kid to be the best athlete they can be while providing life lessons through sport.
Here are five qualities to look for in a good youth coach for your kids.
Creates A Fun Learning Environment
Sports are supposed to be fun. Bad youth coaches forget that, making sport all about winning at the cost of the enjoyment of their players. It takes a kid a lot longer to fall in love with a sport than to fall out of love with it when the sport stops being fun and becomes a chore.
Energy is important in a good youth coach. So is a dedication to being timely and having practice plans that make sense, promoting the sport’s enjoyment while teaching your child how to improve their game. Good football coaching, for example, will promote techniques and skills while prioritizing player safety.
In our weird world, it is important that kids get the chance to be kids. If your youth coach isn’t letting this happen, then it might be time to look elsewhere.
Commands And Teaches Respect
Respect is one of those life lessons a youth coach can teach that, unfortunately, has fallen out of society over the last few decades. There are levels of respect in play here, and a good coach for your kids will ensure that all of those respect levels are taught to your kids in both words and actions. They include:
- Coach to athlete
- Athlete to coach
- Athlete to athlete
- Athlete to supporter/parent
- Coach to supporter/parent
- Supporter/parent to all
Respect and sportsmanship go hand in hand. A 2005 study by the Midwestern universities found that surveyed coaches of 9 to 15-year-olds said that teaching sportsmanship was a major part of their job. This can be hard, especially when many of the professional athletes that youth players look up to are often poor sports and have a clear lack of respect for officials, coaches, and other players.
It is up to a youth coach to impart a level of respect that sticks. Accepting a bad call is hard, but it is vital. Good youth coaches understand this and will be able to rise above it to show players how to respect even when upset. If you see a youth coach who respects the game and those around him or her, you have a great role model for your kids.
The very best youth coaches are not just able to teach respect, they are also able to communicate both with players and with parents.
- Can connect with players one on one.
- Doesn’t use assistant coaches as barriers to communication.
- Gets to eye level when explaining concepts and ideas.
- Has open feedback with kids on how to improve practices and games.
- Takes defeats, bad calls, etc. in stride and always communicates with a smile.
- Always open to communication with parents.
- Willing to listen to parental feedback and know how to use it.
- Uses meetings, emails, and phone calls for communication when appropriate.
- Communicates with parents when there are signs of trouble.
- Tell parents when their kids are achieving and notes improvements.
There is a fine line between football coaching and other forms of youth sport coaching between motivation and burnout. A good motivational coach knows how to tow that line, pushing your kids to be the best they can be without making them feel like they have to play their sport so much that they tire of it and quit.
Getting buy-in from your kid is important here – be it because they genuinely love playing the sport or because they see that it can open doors for them down the line (scholarships) – and it is then down to the coach to motivate that player, channeling their aspirations into something great. Players motivate themselves when they see that they are improving, a good youth coach puts players in drills and gives them exercises to see that improvement and want to be better still.
A great motivation coach plays a massive role for parents too. This quality in a coach allows the motivation to be taken completely away from a parent, allowing you to be nothing more than a supporter of your child.
Perhaps the most important trait in a quality coach for your kid is their ability to balance hard work and fun. When it comes to sports like tackle football, the football coaching a player receives should be fun, but it should also be enough work that the athlete gets better. Too much weight in either direction lessens the impact of the coaching and, if we are being honest, wastes the time of both the coach and their players.
A quality youth sports coach understands their mission. In a lower key league at a YMCA, the balance is shaded towards fun and community. In a higher-level tackle football league, the balance is shaded more towards hard work and developing skills. Neither of these is better than the other, it is all about the right balance for the right group of kids.
Making kids run continual suicides for an entire practice is hard work. Doing nothing but goof off for an hour is too much fun. Structure is important, and putting in the hard work early to earn the fun of a scrimmage at the end is a great way to make kids understand the value of hard work. They will take this with them as they progress through life and yet another core value learned through sports with the right coach for your kids.
Those are five important qualities to look for in a coach for your kids. If you know of any more, then be sure to comment on this post, and if you are a coach yourself, self-evaluate your effectiveness in these five areas
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