Coaching youth sports is a challenge

by mark

Kids Sports

Kids Sports

I think it is the look on a kid's face when he executes a play like he was taught & it works. Another rewarding thing is when I actually get them to listen to what they are told... instead of stepping on the foot of a team mate or staring into space. I laugh about a lot of the things they do, but get a big lift when I find some kid actually listened to something I said. Getting a kid to think of helping his team instead of himself always gives one a sense of accomplishment. Every child wants to be the center of attention & directing them to do something that allows someone else to get the attention is counter to their instincts.

That is why one must always look for a good block or defensive action to praise a kid for. Sometimes a kid will learn to praise the actions of a team mate helping to make a play & that is very up lifting. Perhaps the most rewarding thing is to see the change in attitude playing a sport can induce in a kid.

Kids of any age can learn to do things properly. They may not have the motor skills developed yet, but they can at least try to do it right. One of my favorite misconceptions is that “practice makes perfect”. That’s totally wrong; practice doesn’t make perfect, practice makes permanent. What I try to teach is: “Perfect Practice Makes Permanently Perfect”. That’s a pretty big difference!

Of course, this really changes things for a youth coach because we
need to teach the correct fundamentals or we’ll simply be reinforcing the bad habits kids develop. The hardest thing to do as a coach is to try and correct a flaw that a kid has developed over years of “practice”. This is even harder when the kid is good, because correcting the fundamental flaw generally means that getting worse before getting better. That means the kid is going to be reluctant to try this “new” way and may not stick it out. In the long run, the difference could be huge.

The solution is simple: we need to learn the right fundamentals before we start coaching. It’s a responsibility that we accept when we volunteer to coach. Now, up front, I want to make sure to state that most of us think we know much more about sports than we really do. That’s simply not true. Much of what we learned was wrong. We may also not know the right way to communicate what we know to kids. Or, we may not know anything about the sport if we’re stepping in and coaching soccer or another sport that wasn’t “big” when we were young.

The main part of coaching any sport (and I have coached girls in basketball and slow & fast-pitch softball) is to motivate your girls to hustle their butts off for you. You definitely have to teach them, but you also have to push them to do their best. The best motivational style depends on your girls' personalities. If you don't know their personalities, be who you are and they will adjust.

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