You. Can. Do it!
| 4 min read
Here’s one of the biggest secrets in youth sports: Coaching doesn’t have to be a whole thing.
At the rec level, your job is not to take your team to state or even to dominate the scoreboard. (If you do, good for you!) Your job is to make practice and games a place kids actually want to be. Can you build skill and confidence over a series of 8 or 10 weeks? Can you help kids feel like they’re part of something? Can you not lose your mind (or your temper) over one bad call? Can you… make it fun? If so, you’re ready for the role.
Everything worthwhile takes some effort. The more you do on the front end, the better. Be sure parents and players know where to be and when. Have a plan for practices (or let MOJO do it for you). Get your assistants on board. This is the grunt work of coaching and nearly all of it takes place before the season starts.
Learn more: How to Create and Edit a Practice
Good communication does two things — it calms anxious parents and it puts you in pole position. If you lay things out clearly, people know what to expect. Is a weekly novella about the state of youth sports or your offensive strategy against the coming weekend’s team necessary? Probably not. But recognizing extra effort on the part of parents or players, or addressing group dynamics before they become a bigger issue? Absolutely.
You’re not meant to go it alone, Coach. Not only do you need your A-team to run practices and handle game day, the kids need the attention, and the experience of working with different adults and personalities. Chances are, parents need it, too. Ask repeatedly. Beg if you have to. It’s a team sport on both sides of the clipboard.
Learn more: Assemble Your A-Team
A grassroots, volunteer coach needs to understand the basic rules of the game and the fundamental skills of the sport, plus maybe a general awareness of strategy. Do you have to be an expert on all aspects of the game? Not necessarily. If someone on the team is a know-it-all, put them to work. Coaches grow and learn season over season, too.
The skills of the game are important, yes. Winning is fun, yes. But the most important tool you have as a coach is your EQ — a.k.a. your emotional intelligence. Is that kid feeling left out? Bring him back into the fold. Is that other player dominating or domineering at practices or games? Give her a job and a purpose. You don’t have to be a licensed therapist or a school counselor to help kids be a better version of themselves. But you can use your EQ to help build their EQ.