Coaches can really make or break a sports season. Coaches that don’t really care, play favorites, or are bullies on the field can completely sour a child’s opinion of sports and push them to quit at a young age. On the other hand, a great coach can inspire a life-long love of sports that a child will carry with them long after they hang up their 4th grade cleats. There are plenty of good sports coaches out there that keep the season humming along, but it’s those great sports coaches that kids (and parents) will remember and love forever. Here are 3 things those great sports coaches have in common.
1. They love to teach.
Being a great player is one amazing thing; it takes dedication, commitment, drive and skill. But just because you were a stellar athlete in your own day that doesn’t mean you automatically have the tangential skills (in addition to the 4 mentioned above) to be a stellar coach. As a youth sports coach you really are acting as a teacher and training someone to do something is often harder than you may think. How do you break down something that comes naturally to you? Take throwing a baseball for instance. To anyone watching a pro is looks like one fluid motion, but in actuality it’s a bunch of tiny motions seamlessly tied together. Your stance, your arm position, your wrist snap–all of those individual motions make up a “throw.” A great coach can see how one motions breaks down and can train a young athlete to learn those motions and help fine tune their actions until they too have it down seamlessly. A great coach also recognizes that different players may need things explained to them in different ways before they “get it,” so they are constantly looking for ways to tune up their own skills, making them more effective teachers.
2. They take the time to understand what drives/motivates their players.
No two players are alike. Some play to please their parents, some play because they want to be with their friends, some play because they can’t imagine doing anything else. A great coach understands that each player have their own reasons to be on the field, and that different buttons will push players in different ways. Some kids actually do respond to a little yelling (not verbal abuse, but that “hustle up!” style). Other kids do better if they have extra one-on-one coaching time. A great coach is willing to take the time and figure out what each of their players needs, as well as what the team as a whole needs, to stay motivated and focused and driven.
3. They are passionate about the game.
A great coach loves the sport they are coaching. They love it so much they are willing to donate their free time to teach other kids to love that sport just as much! When you are passionate about what you’re doing there is no hiding it and kids pick up on that attitude. It’s incredibly inspiring for young athletes to see an adult putting their all into something that they also like to do. Even if those kids don’t go on to play sports in college or “go pro” they’ll always remember that 3rd grade soccer coach who made their soccer season the best time they ever had. Hopefully they will carry that flame for sports, thanks to their coach, and pass it on to their own children someday.