Why Youth Coaches Should Work On Their Games Too
You've heard it, and probably said it. To improve in a sport, youth athletes must "work on their games." If you follow any sport, or any particular player, you will probably hear about the work an athlete puts in to get better. It is commonly understood, to get better you must work on your sport. You must work outside of games, and in addition to team practices. But does this mantra only apply to athletes? What about coaches?
What about you, the youth sport coach?
Practice what you preach
I have heard parents say, "do as I say, not as I do." I'll be honest, I've said it myself. But inside, I know my kids are going to do what I do, more than what I say. The same goes for the players we coach. If you say practice starts at 6:00, and you show up at, or chat until 6:15, you can believe it'll be hard to get them to start on time. The example you set with your actions as a parent, or as a coach will be followed. So, if you say to your players, "continue to work on your game", should you be "working on your coaching game" too? Without a doubt!
But I'm just a volunteer coach, this isn't my profession
Coaching youth sports will not pay your bills. It's safe to say it will probably not be the stepping stone to your dream job. However, when you accept the call to coach youth sports, you are more than a 'volunteer' coach. You have accepted a leadership position, and to a degree are responsible to the players you are leading. You may never coach an athlete who plays at the professional, or even collegiate level. But each of the kids you coach will go pro in some area of their lives. Your coaching will impact them. Therefore, it is vital you be your very best youth sports coach you can be.
Grow as a leader
You may not be the boss at your job, or even at home. ;) But when you step on that field, or court, as "coach", you are in a leadership position. To you that may be an intimidating task no matter the age of kids you coach, or it may be like a walk in the (baseball) park. Coaches and leaders have the important task of bringing the best out of the people on their teams. Great coaches help their players improve as the season goes on. As you become a better leader, you will be able to help your kids, and the kids you coach better reach their potential. Whether your team wins the championship or not, when you see more confident kids, who continue to improve you can count it as a "W."
Take time to know the fundamentals
I've coached sports I've never played. In order to best help the kids, I knew I needed to be familiar with the fundamentals of the game. Fortunately we live in 2013, where anyone can learn anything they want to...for free! If you don't know the basics, jump on Google and search for it. Complete practice plans and drills are at your fingertips.
A YouTube training video isn't just for beginning coaches either. I played college basketball, but I still go to YouTube to find drills and instruction for my son. Yes, I know the fundamentals, but sometimes I don't know how best to teach them. As you brush up on fundamentals and drills you'll feel more confident in showing your youth athletes. Your practices and sessions with your athletes will be more productive, more fun, and the kids will gain so much more from it.
Learn from others
As a kid one of the ways I learned was watching other players. If I saw a move which was effective, I'd try to do it myself. Coaching is no different. As a youth coach, the experience of other coaches is very valuable to you. You may learn from the greatest coaches of all time. Or you may learn from the veteran youth sports coach, who has coached for several years. You can even connect with the network of coaches CoachUp has created. Find out what they do that works, and see how you can apply it to your coaching. You definitely don't want to recreate the wheel, but you can use it.
Being the best coach you can be
There is no greater feeling than to see one of your kids or players improve over the course of a season. Or to see them do their very best. Keep in mind the better coach you are, the more this will happen with your young athletes. Your job as youth coach is a very important one. Not to be taken lightly. You may not win any awards, get inducted into any sport's hall of fame, or even earn a dime. But being the very best coach you can be, and getting the very best out of the kids you coach is a worthy goal to strive for.
Question: What are some specific ways youth coaches can work on their games?