With Spring in full force and Summer just around the corner, many kids are hitting the soccer fields and baseball diamonds for the fun of participating in team sports. With this phenomena also comes the parents who volunteer or are asked to coach a team. Many volunteer coaches think they need to know the game inside and out in order to be a successful coach, but most of the recreation leagues out there do not keep track of wins and loses. If the kids have fun, that’s a win!
Try to keep in mind that coach is just another name for teacher. When on the field, help the kids understand the sport and keep them involved with the practice. Keeping the kids on the move will keep them from succumbing to the boredom from just standing on the field. Let the sport be the guide, and use mini-games during practice to help the kids along. Walt himself once said “Crowded classrooms and half-day sessions are a tragic waste of our greatest national resource – the minds of our children.” If you spend all practice lecturing about the game, the kids are going to tune you out and not pay attention.
Walt Disney had several quotes that I use regularly in practice. When a player tells me “I can’t” I respond with “If you can dream it, you can do it.” or “It is kind of fun to do the impossible.” Keep the kids positive; maybe they are not the fastest runner or the best hitter. However, all that matters is that they are having fun and giving it their best. Keep it positive.
The attitude of the coach will also play into how well the kids learn. If you are constantly critical of the kids, they’ll get down on themselves. Stay positive and you will have greater effort from the kids. Your players should never have a fear of letting you down. Kids will make mistakes, but teach them to learn from the mistakes they made. Also congratulate the hustle or effort. Give them something to be proud of. That will make it a win-win situation for all involved.
Keep in your mind that you’re a teacher to these kids, and, for many, this is their first exposure to the sport. You are the sport’s ambassador to these children. If you keep it fun and enjoyable, they could become the next Mia Hamm or Landon Donavon.
Contributed by: Thom Whitham (NDD#145) Thom is the DDL Fitness Blogger.