Kids' team sports are enormously popular. Over 46 million children and adolescents are involved in the U.S. and the number is mushrooming daily. Parents nationwide are rushing to enroll their kids, sometimes in multiple sports, in the hopes of providing them with every advantage or even a future career.
Who is coaching all of these teams?
Some teams, such as school sports teams, have professionals (or teachers pressed into after-school service) to coach. The majority of youth sports teams are coached by volunteers — and that usually means parents.
Coaching your child's team can be a rewarding experience. You'll receive more time in direct interaction with them in a setting not normally available. Most parents have little or no training, however, and have to "learn on the job."
Here are some tips for being a great coach:
Google's on the team
. The Internet has a lot of free information on coaching a variety of sports, from cheerleading to soccer to swimming. There are articles and videos with general helps, plus drills, plays, and advice for game day. Don't feel you have to start from scratch.
. One of the first and most important things to learn is how to communicate in a positive way. You'll need to have this skill, not just for team members, but for parents and administrators. Youth sports are not the place for "drill sergeant-type" coaching. Keep it positive.
. A wise coach was asked, "What makes for excellence?" He replied, "Mastery of fundamentals." This is true for nearly all of life's endeavors, and one of the best skills a child can learn from team sports. They'll be able to apply it to many areas of their life, whether learning to play a musical instrument or succeeding in business. Learn what the fundamentals are in the sport you are coaching and go over them again and again. Figure out ways to keep the repetitive practice fun by making them into little games. Help the players realize that not all drilling is fun. Sometimes hard work just is what it is, but it's worth it. What a great life lesson!
A skilled coach will consider teaching respect one of his greatest responsibilities. Team players should respect the coach, their team members and even their opponents. Insist on respectful speech from your team.
Above all, remember to have fun, and keep it fun for the kids. Keep in mind that your goals are to learn life skills such as fitness, teamwork, responsibility, and achievement. Youth sports are not the place for "winning at any cost." Rather than insisting on winning, encourage the kids to simply do their best and not settle for less. After all, this is all any of us can do, whether player or coach.