Coaching youth teams can be summed up in one simple statement: It’s all about the kids. Not about the parents feeling proud, or the coaches feeling accomplished, or the school feeling distinguished, or the league feeling responsible.
Youth sports begins with kids, and ends with kids. Period. These coaching tips will help you be the kind of coach that always puts kids first.
1. Speak honestly in the preseason. No flowery promises of playing time.
2. Be consistent: a team rule is a team rule, no matter who the player is.
3. Communicate clearly to parents.
4. Coach kids, not just a team. Take time to encourage and instruct individual players.
5. Push your players. Challenge them. No babysitting.
6. Encourage, encourage, encourage. Always give kids positive feedback.
7. Don’t say, “Don’t!” Be positive in your approach instead of negative.
8. Let the players know you are human. Take off your coach’s hat when you are off the field.
9. Listen to parents. You don’t have to agree, but you should listen.
10.Listen to your players: their frustrations, conflicts.
11.Be in tune with team chemistry and address team conflicts. Ignoring them won’t make them go away.
12.Coaching is not just about teaching a sport; it’s about helping kids learn life-lessons.
13. Model respect–towards refs, opponents, parents, players, everyone.
14. Laugh with your players. Coaches don’t earn respect by being grumpy.
15. Mix it up: make it fun, and make them work hard.
16. Be teachable. Just because you’re coaching doesn’t mean you know it all. Study other teams, watch videos.
17. Take the blame when you lose; give the team credit when you win.
18. Losing isn’t fun. Don’t make it worse for your players by getting mad at them for a loss. Instead, help them learn from it.
19. Always put kids’ safety first. Have proper equipment, proper water breaks, proper first-aid.
20. Nothing wrong with wanting to win; just don’t sacrifice kids to do it.
21. Encourage players to come talk to you if they have questions. They should not live in fear of your anger if they do.
22. Organize yourself. Parents and players appreciate it.
23. If your player doesn’t end the season a better player, then you have not done your job as a coach. It is your job to help them grow (unless the athlete is not willing).
24. Your family needs you too. Making time for family and coaching takes creativity, but it must be done. If your family suffers, then give the job away.
25. Rejoice in the small victories in each practice, in each game. Build upon them and they will grow into bigger victories.
As a coach, you will never please everyone. Accept that and make it your goal to do what you do for the sake of the kids. If you do, you will be a coach that truly makes a difference in kids’ lives.