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Saturday, February 2, 2008

What Makes a Good Youth Coach?

Go to any youth sporting event and you will see it from grade school to high school. It is hurting today's youth more than they know. What is it? Out of control youth coaches. The out of control coach wants to win at all costs. They do not allow the lesser players to participate and they verbally abuse the players that get to participate.

So, what makes a good youth coach? It starts with their outlook on the game and life. Competitiveness is an important part of sports, but it is not the only part. No one cares if you won the Little League state championship when you were twelve years old during a job interview.

Youth coaches should, instead, focus on playing the game the right way. The right way being the fundamentally sound way. Athletes are made from the ground up. If the athlete does not get taught how to do basic skills, they will never be able to progress. For example, in basketball, coaches should be teaching the young athlete to dribble, pass, and shoot without making mistakes. When they do make mistakes they should be corrected immediately. Overcoming mistakes is a huge part of sports and young athletes need to understand that.

A good youth coach will combine teaching fundamental skills with teaching life lessons at the same time. They have to take their knowledge of the sport and mix it into a "big picture" perspective. Today's youth are more protected and shielded from reality than generations before. Most young athletes lack mental toughness. Athletes can be taught mental toughness and fortitude, but it is a slow process. Verbal abuse is not the best medicine. Constructive criticism should be given, but you must be aware of how the athlete reacts to the criticism. No one likes to hear criticism. As you grow up, it is important to learn to accept criticism and not to take it personally.

If coaches ignore the score and try to get young athletes to compete against the game itself, it will benefit everyone greatly. I'm not saying wins and loses should not be recorded. Score should still be kept in sporting events. Winning at all costs should not be the motivation of coaches though. Youth coaches should put their effort towards getting the athletes to play the game correctly and to the best of their ability.