The First and Most Important Coach for Youth Athletes

The first coach most athletes have is their dad. Whether dad coaches as a profession, a volunteer, or in the back yard, dad is the first, and most important, coach in an athlete's life.

My first best  coach?

My dad was my first coach, and still claims he was my best coach. And like him I followed suit in coaching my kids. Despite his claim that he was my best coach, his coaching wasn't the most important thing he did for me.
The most important thing my dad did was just being present, engaged, and an active participant in my life.
Coaching your kid is a great experience. One that brings a lot of joy. But as sports parents we shouldn't lose sight of the most important part of it -- spending meaningful time with our kids, and making them a priority.

A great example to follow

One of the greatest coaches period, and one of the greatest at doing this is Tony Dungy. Coach Dungy is someone I consider a mentor, and I have learned so much from. Through all his successes, and all the demands his career has placed on him through the years, he without fail places his family first, and he is active and involved with his kids' lives.

Coach Dungy serves as the spokesperson for an organization who shares this same passion for being active participants in our kids lives, not just on the sports fields. The organization, All Pro Dad, is like a coach for dads. They help dads find ways to have daily interaction with their kids at home, monthly interaction with their kids at school, and even annual interaction with their kids and their favorite NFL team.

A great father and kids event

My son and I participated in one of their NFL events a couple years ago and had one of the best times of our lives. We still talk about the experience today. Since then I've been following All Pro Dad closely, and have had the opportunity to work with them on several things. Many things I do in fatherhood and coaching is related to what I've learned through All Pro Dad.

This Saturday we'll be attending their father and kids experience with the Colts at the Colts Indianapolis practice facility. Unlike last time, all three of my kids and my wife will be able to go with me.  To say we are all excited is probably the biggest understatement of the year!

For those in the Indianapolis area All Pro Dad is making available FREE registrations to the event, which takes place this Saturday from 1:30pm - 4:30pm. For those near other NFL cities, check out their website for NFL events in your area.

Stepping up in an important area

Whether you make it to one of the All Pro Dad NFL events, their school breakfasts, or anything else they do, I encourage you to continue to be active in your kids' lives. Not just their sports lives, but everything else they are involved with.

If your kids are older, or you know kids who do not have their dad in their lives, then step up in a mentoring or father-figure role for them. The importance of dads, coaches, and mentors in the lives of kids' today is very important!

CoachUp does a great job of connecting athletes with coaches and mentors like this. I encourage you to find a private coach/sports mentor for your kids via CoachUp.

Question: What do you enjoy most about being a sports parent, coach, or youth mentor?

Jackie Bledsoe, Jr. is a sports parent of three, and writes on sports parenting. He has played sports for over 30 years, including the collegiate level, and coached youth sports for the past eight years.  

photo credit: showbiz kids via photopin cc

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