5 Things Your Coach Wants Athletes to Avoid Doing
At the youth sports level, the majority of your coaches are just volunteers doing their best. Which means they are trying to navigate the field and strategy just as their athletes are. As a coach, there are just some things that hate hearing from those playing the game. Not only can these obstacles put your coach in an uncomfortable position, but it could ruin the experience for another athlete learning or striving to improve as well. If your young athlete wants be a good teammate and stay on the coach's good side, encourage him to refrain from communicating in any of theses ways:
As any parent is likely to know, the habit of blaming can take many forms. Whether your child wants to blame the official, another teammate, or the weather, refusing to accept blame for an error will never help your child improve. Accepting blame is really hard for kids to do and it is something that can only happen as they learn to be true team players. More troubling, this is the type of issue than can extend beyond the field if you let it -- who will take the blame for bad grades, fights with siblings, or a dirty room otherwise? When your child makes a mistake, encourage him to acknowledge it himself, admit it to his teammates, and learn from it.
Unfortunately, the close relative of blame has to be making excuses. Of course, excuses are easy to tell and they may even make your child feel justified for a moment. In the future, however, tossing out excuses will never help him improve or fix what went wrong. Sometimes you're just simply outplayed on the field -- and that's OK.
It's important to let your young athlete know, both as a parent and a coach, that losing is more than fine. Later on, when teams get more competitive, excuses can truly derail a promising player. Does the coach not like you or does he just have a better option in front of him? If making excuses becomes a habit, then it will too often become the reaction to anything that goes wrong in the game. Instead of excuses, trying channeling that disappointment into your training or positivity and get ready for the next game.
Now, this should be a no-brainer, but showing your coach up in public is unacceptable. As mentioned before, your coach is likely just a volunteer -- would you want to be yelled at for doing a favor? It's certainly OK to disagree with a decision or substitution, but there's a way to handle these type of problems. No, the answer is not yelling at your coach or teammates, causing a scene on the bench, and thus creating a distraction from the job at hand. If your child wants to disagree with a coach and his call, it should not happen during the game. If he wants to offer a suggestion, it should be done in practice as more constructive conversations can occur.
Youth sports needs to be a collectively cooperative space and trying to win is certainly OK -- it's when matters devolve into the intentionally hurtful and dismissive chatter that those around you are harmed. Whether if it’s with her own teammates or against the opposing team, there’s no room for demeaning and degrading talk in youth sports -- and it's certainly not something the coach wants to hear while he's on the sideline either. At the end of the day, young athletes should consider their actions before speaking. Will you feel this way tomorrow? Would you feel the same if you were winning? Weigh your options before speaking and the coach will appreciate your ability to harness emotions in a positive way.
A defeatist attitude shows negativity and lack of motivation, and it may prompt the coach to pull your child out of the game. Being nervous to play a new position or slumping at the plate may be reasons why a child wants to sit out, but it's important that you don't. Perseverance and hard work are two qualities that mature athletes -- and humans in general -- exhibit. If you can't hit a certain pitch -- take some extra swings after practice; if your coach thinks you might play well as a striker instead of a midfielder, give it a try. After all, you never know what might happen because you stayed positive, helpful, and supportive!