There always seems to be one point in the season of a youth sports coach when he or she feels like a total failure. Maybe bad weather is playing havoc with your practice and game schedules, the kids just aren’t listening to you during practices, and you feel the urge to go all Earl Weaver on the teenage umpires calling your games. This frustration is natural and comes with the territory, and the positive experience of coaching usually far outweighs the occasional moments of doubt that arise during a long season.
However, if, as a rec coach, you feel continually stressed and nothing seems to be going right, something else might be at play. Ineffective sports team management can turn what is supposed to be a rewarding volunteer opportunity into a chore. Sometimes, this isn’t the fault of the coach—perhaps the league is in a state of transition or the parents aren’t as supportive as they should be. Fortunately, a few simple strategies, with some possible help from the online league management software your league uses, can turn your frustration into achievement. Here are four ways to make your sports team management more successful:
1. Always communicate
A few decades ago, coaches’ communication (at least off the field or court) was so much simpler: They told kids and parents when practices were, handed out a game schedule, and expected everybody to show up, rain or shine. Today, with busy family schedules, crowded facilities, and the ability to contact anyone at almost every time, constant communication is expected, almost demanded, by coaches, parents, and league admins. Online league management solutions can make this communication a breeze. Instead of assembling emails to dozens of parents or calling each family individually, coaches can send one message—whether to be sent via email, text, or as a post to the team homepage (or some combination thereof)—through the software to the entire team. Communication improves, as does sports team management.
2. Delegate tasks to parents
Coaches who try to do everything themselves—from snack schedules to prepping baseball fields before games to organizing an end-of-season barbecue—are admirable. They also are often overwhelmed, which contributes to poor sports team management and an overall feeling of frustration and fatigue. You already are accepting a monumental task by volunteering to coach; don’t feel like you need to take on more. Ask your players’ parents for help. Many want to be involved and are grateful for your contribution to their kids’ success. Not only does this ease your burden, but it also fosters a better sense of team when everybody is contributing and communicating.
3. Don’t sweat the wins and losses
Many coaches have experienced this scenario: Your players are great kids who try hard and listen to you; their parents are wonderful and supportive; and everyone is having fun—yet, you can’t seem to win a single game. Or, a string of victories leads to everybody being obsessed with winning more. For youth rec sports, particularly at younger divisions (anything below age 10), the goal shouldn’t be how often you win. Instead, focus upon improvement, fitness, working together as a team, and, of course, fun. Successful sports team management isn’t measured in wins and losses, but rather, in the development and growth of the kids playing (and, hopefully, enjoying) the game.
4. Go off plan when necessary
Coaches who diligently and meticulously plan every practice, every game plan, every lineup and substitution, will inevitably be disappointed when such careful strategies don’t come to fruition. Successful sports team management involves the ability to adapt, and to go off the plan and just wing it when necessary. This is especially true if you are coaching younger kids. A group of 7-year-olds, by their very nature, don’t live according to plan. Sometimes the best thing you can do is adjust to them rather than them adjusting to you.
What elements of sports team management do you struggle with?