Through my experience as an athlete, student, and coach, I have learned and experienced how much of an impact a coach can have on a player; both positive and negative. How many times have you heard the story about the one coach who ruined a kid’s athletic career? Unfortunately it’s a common story too many children have lived through. Fortunately, we also hear the stories about the one coach who influenced an athlete to pursue sport for the rest of their careers. This was my experience in youth sport; I was coached by a coach who understood the value of self-confidence, and what it means to truly believe in a player, despite the odds. Without his guidance, and trust in my abilities, I wouldn’t be who I am, or have the dreams I have, today.
Youth sport is such an influence place to teach life lessons to children. For instance if I ask you to recall a childhood memory from a 3rd-5th grade classroom, most of us draw banks or have very vague memories. When asked to recall a sporting memory from childhood most of us can quickly recall a vivid memory, some of which still elicit emotion. Unfortunately, the volunteers who so kindly step up to coach are usually not supported with mass amounts of training. They simply add coach to their laundry list of responsibilities and do the best they can. A simple way to improve your coaching is to strive to give kids an overall optimal experience in sport, not the experience of a winning season.
So what consists of an optimal experience in sport? When you send your child off to play youth sport are you hoping they will eventually walk away with the skills needed to play at the collegiate level? Some maybe, but mostly, you just want your kid to have a good experience and hopefully like the sport, right?
Unfortunately, in a society where sport is an entertainment business, optimal experience can get mistaken for a winning season. A winning season doesn’t always equate to a great experience. In one of my many seasons of softball we had a very good team. Our record was good and we were one game out of the finals. We even got to travel to some amazing places to play ball. This same year 5 girls electively ended their softball careers.
It’s not just about the scoreboard; it’s about having fun, improving, learning, creating friendships, and developing self-confidence. These are the things parents will come up and thank coaches for after the season is through. Try to keep this in mind when you head out to the field to coach your youngsters. Create an optimal experience for all your athletes.
Quote of the day:
“When all is said and done, it’s not the shots that won the championship that you remember, but the friendships you made along the way.” -Unknown