It's unfortunate that the youth coach position is seen as one that is less worthy than a high school or college coach, when the reality is that these coaches are the people who help shape tomorrow’s college and pro stars.
The youth coach position is not just a slot to be filled, it is an opportunity to impact young lives and for that reason, the job should not be taken lightly or filled with the first person who volunteers.
During 22 years of sports parenting, I saw my three children coached by a wide variety of adults, some making little impact, some making a negative impact and some making a lasting positive impact.
Parents do not always have the opportunity to choose their child’s coach, but hopefully often have the option of choosing their child's team. Remember these reasons why the coach is so important:
Kids spends many hours with the coach.
Some seasons, it may seem like kids spend more time with the coach and team than he/she does at home. The adults that that young athletes hang around for any length of time will influence them. Coaches--be an influence that is positive and empowering.
Kids listen to coaches.
Maybe it’s out of fear, the desire to please, or perhaps kids are simply fighting for a starting spot and want to get the coach’s attention—but most kids hold coaches in high esteem, even if they don’t necessarily respect them. They will listen and do as he or she says because of the power a coach holds. Be an adult who understands and respects this power.
Coaches are role models.
Whether coaches like it or not, kids are watching and listening. If coach says it, it must be okay. If coach treats the refs like that or the other team like that, then I can too! Coach, you may not like it or want it, but you are a role model to the kids you are leading.
Coaches can fill a parenting hole.
Kids without one parent, kids with a parent who is negligent, kids with a parent who is gone a lot—coaches often become a sort of surrogate parent to these athletes. The love and support coaches provide stretches way beyond the game.
Coaches have the power to shape lives.
The coaches that my kids still talk about are the ones who helped shape their lives. The rest? Well, they are forgotten in the memories of youth sports. Coaches, you have a golden opportunity to teach leadership, compassion, strength and courage. Don’t waste the time you have been given to shape tomorrow’s leaders and don’t ever minimize the impact you can have on a young athlete’s life.
Parents, as you lead your child on the youth sports journey, be on the lookout for youth sports coaches that will partner with you in raising your kids, not one who is just filling a spot that no one wanted.