How to Coach Children

As a coach you have a lot of influence over the kids you coach. This article gives coaches some tips that will aid them in their coaching endeavors.

Tips to Optimize Your Coaching Experience

Youth sports are an integral part of today’s society and an important part of a child’s development. Playing on a sports team can teach a child so much more than just winning and losing. Sports can teach teamwork, responsibility, hard work, respect, and how to work toward a common goal and not just individual achievements. They can teach many positive life lessons as well, but it seems that in today’s society those lessons are put on the back burner and kids are taught to win at all costs. Parents and coaches are preventing the kids from reaching their true potential, because they are trying to live vicariously through them. It seems that most often the parents care about winning games and individual statistics, when if you ask the kids what they want they will tell you it is to have fun. It seems that somewhere along the way the adults forgot what it was like to be a kid and to just play for the sheer enjoyment of it.

I have coached basketball for the past 7 years and through my experiences I have dealt with all types of youth from those who were pretty good at basketball to those who hadn’t touched a basketball before the first day of practice. Every kid that I coached, I always applied the same techniques and philosophies. Listed below are some if the principles I used when coaching. I found them to be successful because the kids had a good time, learned how to play the sport, developed positive life skills, and we won games.

1. Don’t put so much emphasis on winning. Sure when it comes down to it everyone wants to win games, but if your team is just starting out in their sport, basing success on the win loss record is a bad way to go about it. If you lose a lot of games your kids will feel like failures, especially if coaches and parents are stressing win, win, win, but in reality they might have done a really good job and improved on some of their skills.

2. Balance fun and learning. When coaching your team there is a time for learning and a time to have fun. It is important for your kids to learn about the sport they play so they can understand the rules, fundamentals, and how to get better. On the other hand it is important for them to have fun so they will want to keep playing the sport and will want to learn how to improve their game.

3. Focus on fundamentals. I see it too often when running my practice that the kids will ask, “When can we scrimmage?” Kids don’t understand that the only way to get better at anything is to work on the fundamentals. They think that if they play pick up games then they will get better. When you are coaching, especially very young kids, spend most of your practice time on the fundamentals of your sport. Try to turn the fundamentals into games or contests. When I coach basketball I will turn my dribbling drills into a relay races and kill two birds with one stone.

4. Don’t expect your kids to become all-stars over night. When coaching kids it can be very frustrating to not see immediate progress, but you need to keep in mind that they are just kids and it is going to take time for them to acquire the skills. If you, as a coach or parent, try not to set your expectations extremely high then you won’t become disappointed and frustrated when your players fail to meet those goals. Take any little success that you can get and constantly build on it.

I have listed only four guidelines for coaching children. Hopefully you can take these principles and incorporate them into your coaching philosophy. Anyone who has kids or works with kids on a daily basis knows that it takes a lot of time and patience, so hang in there, keep it fun, and you and your team will achieve success. Good Luck!