Let’s preface this by saying that any parent who volunteers to be a youth sports coach has our gratitude and respect! It’s a big responsibility and many leagues wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for those parent-coach volunteers willing to step up to the plate (pun intended)! And even though most leagues are always on the lookout for new coaches (after all, parents tend to follow their kids through and out of the league), not every parent is ready to be a sports coach, no matter how much they may want to help out. Here are 3 signs that you may not be ready:
1. You don’t know the sport.
We’re not saying you have to be a pro (or even a collegiate athlete) in order to coach youth sports, but you should at least know the basic rules and skills of the game AND be able to teach those to others! If you’ve never thrown a football in your life it’s kind of hard to teach someone else how to throw, right? At very young ages, U-6 or so, you can get away with just knowing the basics provided you are willing to learn and follow the lead/advice of those who might not more, but as your son/daughter gets older you could actually be doing them a disservice because of your lack of skills! If that’s the case and you still really want to help out, why not volunteer to be an assistant coach? That way you can learn the basics and be involved, but let the majority of the work fall on someone else’s shoulders.
2. You can’t handle the time commitment.
As the coach you don’t get to miss a practice or a game…ever. If you aren’t there than the whole team is basically locked in a stand-still; you’re the one with the equipment after all! When you’re a “regular” parent you can ask someone else to pick up or drop off your son/daughter because you have another commitment, but as the coach you are expected to be there no matter what! Depending on your circumstances this just might not be possible. If you have another son or daughter involved in youth sports, for instance, it’s kind of hard to be the coach of one team and get to the other’s games on a regular basis. It’s okay to be busy (most of us have more than enough on our plate!) but as a coach you have to make that team your #1 priority after your family and work. If that’s not something you can commit to than being a coach may not be the right thing for you.
3. You aren’t sure you’ll be able to be fair.
The pendulum can swing both ways when it comes to coaching your own child. Some parents can’t help but think their child is more talented, faster, a better player, etc. than their teammates. And while it’s okay to think that when you’re the coach you have to be willing to admit that someone else might be a better pitcher/quarterback/goalie than your own child. Parent-coaches who play favorites with their own child aren’t going to have a very supportive team for long. On the flip side, some parent-coaches are so afraid of being called out for playing favorites that they are unduly harsh on their own child! You have to give credit where credit is due and if your child makes a mistake you can’t punish them harder than you would any other player. Being a parent-coach means walking a fine line between two very distinct personas and responsibilities, and if you aren’t certain how to walk that line than maybe you aren’t ready to be a coach.
As we mentioned before, if you still want to be involved but aren’t ready for the “head coach” title you can always volunteer to be an assistant coach! Learn from someone with more experience, yet have the flexibility and freedom to miss a few practices here and there when life comes up. Maybe you aren’t ready to be a coach just yet, but perhaps next season will be the time!