Being a youth coach can be an immensely rewarding experience. Yet it also comes with its own set of challenges, pitfalls, and problems. Today, we’re going to talk about a few of the biggest mistakes novice youth coaches make, with an eye toward helping you avoid them.
3 Big Mistakes Youth Coaches Make
As a youth coach, you have an incredibly significant role in the lives of your players. You’re helping to shape their future, inspiring in them a passion for sports which will hopefully continue into their adult lives. Perhaps more importantly, you’re serving as a mentor for them, helping them to grow not just as athletes, but as people.
Not surprisingly, this role carries with it a unique set of challenges and roadblocks. Understanding the mistakes novice youth coaches tend to make can help you overcome them. We’ll go over some of the most common.
Poor Parent-Coach Relations
As a youth coach, you have a responsibility to more than just your players. You also need to make sure you maintain a positive relationship with their parents. The best way to do this, in my experience, is to hold regular parent meetings where you can outline goals, expectations, and details about scheduling and equipment.
Beyond that, it’s important that you always remain calm, diplomatic, and respectful. Keep your cool even when dealing with overbearing mothers and fathers who demand you make their child a superstar. You need to set a positive example for your players. Even if that means being the only adult in the room when talking to an irate parent.
Not Listening To Your Players
It’s important to note that being the only adult in the room doesn’t mean you always know best. It also means taking the time to listen to the concerns, complaints, and questions posed to you by your kids. You need to pay attention to your players, both on and off the field.
Get to know each kid you’re working with. Their likes and dislikes. Their skills and talents. Their personality traits and quirks.
The more you know about them, the better-equipped you’ll be to help them grow as athletes and as people.
Failing To Focus On Fun
There’s nothing wrong with wanting to win. There’s nothing wrong with teaching your team strategies to help them dominate the field. And there’s nothing wrong with running drills, coaching your kids on tactics and techniques, and pushing them to improve.
But while you do all this, remember that 99% of us are not coaching in the nation’s pre-eminent sports program. Most of these kids are here to have fun. If you allow your desire to win to overrule your players’ enjoyment of the game, you need to re-evaluate your coaching strategy.
Coaching young athletes isn’t an easy job. If it were, everyone would do it. That said, it is incredibly rewarding. If you go in with an understanding of the mistakes you can potentially make, you’ll be that much better-equipped to excel.
Brad Wayland is an entrepreneur who began working in the online space in 2003. He is the Chief Strategy Officer at BlueCotton, a site with high-quality, easy-to-design custom t-shirts.