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Tips for the Volunteer Coach

DSC_0190 So many sports leagues today ask for volunteer coaches.  Many are city or county run, some are private companies.  All seem to beg for parent involvement.  When my first entered his first soccer league, it was no different.  After a series of emails saying that my child’s team did not have a coach, I volunteered to help out.  I have never played soccer on a team.   I grew up with four brothers that played every sport, while I stuck to what I was best at, gymnastics.

At our first game, we got blown out.  The unofficial score (because we don’t keep score at U5 soccer) was somewhere around 24-0.  I smiled the whole game, encouraging the boys (that had no idea how badly they were losing), and tried to keep my volume under control.  I remember walking away thinking I have never been beat so badly in my life. Needless to say, I am a competitive person.

I got online, started watching YouTube videos, read about soccer drills, went to the soccer coaches’ clinic, and organized my practice time by the minute with my thought out lesson plans.  I also recruited help from my mom, who had coached soccer for over 15 years.

We didn’t “win” very many games that first season, but the growth of our players was tremendous.  Enough so that I continued coaching soccer and even started winning some games.

I had the privilege of coaching my son’s team for four seasons before the conflicts with meet season became too much to juggle both.

DSC_0199During this time, my sons participated in a variety of sports activities with volunteer coaches. Some of these coaches have been amazing.  Others left me looking for a change in scenery.  All took time out of their weekly routines not just for practices and games, but for planning, ordering jerseys, reserving field space, and more!

So if you are considering taking the plunge into volunteer coaching, or maybe you just need a refresher on “why do I do this?” here are a few traits I have witnessed some of the best coaches have.

Traits of Successful Coaches: Volunteer, Paid or Other

  • Be positive – The energy that we bring as coaches defines the way our practice and game will go, especially when working with young athletes. When we get amped, so do our athletes.  Check the rest of the day at the door and show up ready to focus on the athletes and sport.
  • Desire something better – There is no finish line. Youth sports have a wide variety of ages and abilities.  A great coach understands where their athletes stand and sets attainable goals.
  • Teach discipline – Class control is extremely important. Natural coaches teach athletes when it is appropriate to listen, speak, and joke.  They don’t sit kids out or send them home, they draw attention to the right behavior and ask teammates to copy the good and ignore the bad.
  • Have expectations both on and off the field – A natural coach isn’t just concerned about the results of the game, practice, or meet. They are concerned about the bench behavior, how their athletes speak to their mothers, and what they post on social media.  They care about the entire person, not just an athlete’s stat line.
  • Praise in public, correct in private – The more excited we get about something great, the more our athletes will try to emulate that behavior. The more we draw attention to bad behavior, the more likely we are to see it again.  A natural coach spends the majority of their breath (and volume) praising the positive and saves the negatives for a quiet and private conversation.
November 13, 2015 | Blog | 0

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