2012 is next week! Do you have your list of New Year’s resolutions ready to go? If you are a youth sports coach here are four more resolutions to add:
1. I will try to give everyone more equal playing time.
It’s easy to give your star kids more playing time. Obviously if you want to win you have a better chance with your top players on the field. But youth sports coaches have to remember that this isn’t the NFL or MLB—it’s a community sports organization. All of your kids deserve equal playing time, even if they aren’t destined for the pros one day. Most kids join a youth sports program to have fun and sitting on the bench 90% of each game is no fun, no matter how much they may love to play.
2. I will make practice more engaging.
Standing in a line for 20 minutes to swing at ten pitches isn’t doing much for keeping your players engaged in the practice, nor is it teaching them anything in the long run. Try to make practices more dynamic by running multiple “stations” at once so everyone is constantly on the move. Hitting, passing, dribbling, running, sliding, throwing, serving—there are dozens of skills youth players need to master, so there is no reason for your athletes to be standing around during practice!
3. I will focus on building my players’ skill sets.
Too often youth sports coaches will focus on making their kids look like the pros, running complicated drills and scenarios and focusing on advanced techniques. Don’t forget that each and every one of those pro athlete’s started in a youth sports organization where a coach like you taught them the basics! Very rarely will you have a team where every player is equal in skill and talent, but having a vast spectrum of skill won’t make for a successful season. Get everyone up to speed with the basics and work on more advanced skills as needed, maybe even on a player-by-player basis.
4. I will take a safety training class.
There are simple first aid basics that every coach should now. Take it one step further and take a safety training class where you can learn CPR and other advanced life saving techniques. Hopefully you will never need to use your knowledge, but knowing what do to in an emergency can make all the difference and save a youth athlete’s life in the process. As a youth sports coach, you are responsible for the safety and wellbeing of your players!