Youth sports can be summed up in one simple statement: It’s all about the kids. Not about the parents feeling proud, or the coaches feeling accomplished, or the school feeling distinguished, or the league feeling responsible.
Youth sports begins with kids, and ends with kids. Period. These coaching tips will help you be the kind of coach that always puts kids first.
1. Speak honestly in the preseason. No flowery promises of playing time.
2. Be consistent: a team rule is a team rule, no matter who the player is.
3. Communicate clearly to parents.
4. Coach kids, not just a team. Take time to encourage and instruct individual players.
5. Push your players. Challenge them. No babysitting.
6. Encourage, encourage, encourage. Always give kids positive feedback.
7. Don't say, "Don't!" Be positive in your approach instead of negative.
8. Let the players know you are human. Take off your coach's hat when you are off the field.
9. Listen to parents. You don't have to agree, but you should listen.
10. Listen to your players: their frustrations, conflicts.
11. Be in tune with team chemistry and address team conflicts. Ignoring them won't make them go away.
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As a coach, you will never please everyone. Accept that and make it your goal to do what you do for the sake of the kids. If you do, you will be a coach that truly makes a difference in kids' lives.
Janis Meredith writes Jbmthinks, a blog on sports parenting and youth sports. After being a coach's wife for 27 years and a sports parent for 17, she sees issues from both sides of the bench.