Most people think one becomes a youth sports coach by volunteering and managing a team. Wearing a team hat and being the one that sets up the lineup does not make one a coach, but one in name only.
The late, great John Wooden says that a coach is simply a teacher. I would agree but therein lies the problem. Most youth coaches do not know what it takes to be a teacher. People know the definition of a teacher as someone who shows or explains how to do something. No one disputes that explanation, but a couple of informal definitions of a teaching apply more for sports coaching. One, a teacher is a person who causes someone to learn or understand something by example or experience. Two, a teacher is one who helps someone less inclined to do something.
If one wants to know how to become a youth sports coach, they should follow those latter definitions, too. First, a coach must not only inform with words but through demonstration. Most important, they must be an example. Players take on the demeanor and attitudes of the coach, so their example sets the stage for developing quality people. Second, the having playing experience is important and the higher level one played the game helps with credibility, but just as important is having experience with working with the modern athlete.
Times change and so do kids. The techniques that worked years ago do not always work now. Kids play off attention and approval much more than years ago. Adults, who thrive on teaching by ignoring some players, negativity, and pressure, do not have the necessary approach to help youth. Finally, and maybe most important, teaching is convincing others of the necessity of doing things a certain way. Many kids and parents believe they know more than coaches these days, so coaches have their work cut out for them. That last point is paramount to successful youth coaching. It is not enough now to just convince athletes of what is needed. Involved parents, often called helicopter parents, who often believe the grass is always greener elsewhere, are a tough sell too.
To be a real youth sports coach, so to speak, people must have a game plan for becoming the best teacher they are capable of being. Following are the steps needed, so coaches earn the label, youth sports coach.
A. Do I have the time to coach?
B.Is my playing background in the sport adequate for the age of players and level of play?
C. Do I understand the expectations of parents for the level, their children, and the team?
D. Am I open to communication from others?
Those last queries are what separates the successful coaches from the rest at the youth levels. Coaches, who feel like they know it all, are in for a big surprise when dealing with parents, who also feel like they know it all. Coaches should not go into coaching with naivety or with an unwillingness to be open to input from others.
Of course, so much more goes into coaching but the above gets one started on the path to becoming a youth sports coach more than in name only. Finally, coaches should strive to have well-coached teams, as that is under their control, more than winning is. The great coaches understand that winning is a by-product of doing things the right way and having talented athletes.
Jack Perconte has dedicated his post-major league baseball career to helping youth. He has taught baseball and softball for the past 27 years.His playing, coachingand parenting storieshelp create betterexperiences forathletes andparents.Jack has writtenover a thousand articles on coaching baseball and youth sports.Jack is the author of "The Making of a Hitter" and "Raising an Athlete." His third book "Creating a Season to Remember" is in the works. Jack is a featured writer for Baseball the Magazine. You can also findJack Perconte at YouTube withover 80 fun and innovative baseball instructional videos.
After playing major league baseball, Jack Perconte has taught baseball and softball since 1988 and offered valuable coaching training too. He has helped numerous youth players reach their potential, as well as having helped parents and coaches navigate their way through the challenging world of youth sports. Jack is one of the leading authorities in the areas of youth baseball training and coaching training advice.All Jack Perconte articles are used with copyright permission.
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