We already put forth some New Year’s Resolutions for sports parents, but coaches arguably have the biggest impact on young athletes. A good coach can make a kid loves sports for the rest of their lives, while a bad coach can push a kid to quit after one season. We know a lot of sports coaches are just parents who volunteered and may not have much experience actually being a coach, so here are a few New Year’s resolutions to help coaches be the best they can be in 2014.
1. I resolve to focus on the foundational skills.
While you might want to run complicated drills and plays during practices because “that’s how the pros do it,” you have to remember that those pros got where they are today because someone took the time to teach them the fundamental skills of their given sport. You can’t run without learning to walk, right? When you are working with young athletes the fundamentals are the single most important thing you can teach.. How do you properly throw a ball, shoot a basket, dribble, and so forth? If the kids don’t learn those skills (and learn them well) it’s nigh impossible to introduce any complex plays and expect them to succeed.
2. I resolve to make sure all my players are engaged during practices.
Newer coaches often struggle with making sure all their players have something to do during practice and minimize the amount of time kids are just standing around. Young children aren’t known for long attention spans, so you’ve got to keep them moving around and doing different drills so you can keep them focused and engaged. If you can’t manage the whole team by yourself simply ask another parent to volunteer as your assistant coach and help run one of the drill stations. The more engaged your players are the more fun they will have and the more excited they will be to come to practice.
3. I resolve to not favor my own child over their teammates.
A lot of parents volunteer to coach because they want to spend more time with their own child. And while we heartily applaud you for stepping up to the plate please remember you are responsible for a dozen or so other youth athletes! Please make sure you aren’t giving your child preferential treatment over their teammates because your team parents will notice and that can lead to an ugly confrontation. On the flip side, you don’t have to be extra hard on your child to make certain everyone knows you aren’t favoring them. Just treat your child as you would any other player and know when it’s time to put your coach hat on and take your parent hat off.
4. I resolve to put the health and safety of my players above all else.
Even with the best intentions and safety precautions, accidents can and will happen in youth sports. In 2014 coaches need to resolve to not risk the health and safety of their players for any reason. If you suspect a player has a concussion DO NOT allow them back onto the field until they have been cleared by a medical professional. If you are playing/practicing in extreme heat be sure you give your players plenty of water breaks and time to cool off. If you are travelling to an away tournament make sure you are taking your team out for a real dinner at the end of the day and the kids aren’t just living on snack stand foods all weekend. As the coach you are responsible for the safety and well-being of your players so please take that responsibility to heart.
5. I resolve to always encourage friendly competition.
Competition is a good thing! But please remember that winning isn’t the only thing that matters in youth sports. There are so many great life lessons kids can learn when they belong to a sports team, so please don’t let those lessons get buried by the scoreboard. Teamwork, dedication, commitment, hard work, leadership—kids learn all of that and more when they are part of a great youth sports team. A little competition is great because it pushes us to try harder, but no matter what the final score is as long as your team did their bet they should be proud of themselves.