PLAYERS VS. COACHES: The Top 10 Rules for Coaching Kids
Last week on my radio show, I had a chance to review the Top 10 Rules for Expected Parental Behavior…and this week, I wanted to go down the same road for the Top Rules that are Expected for Youth Coaches…
Here we go…
1. Here’s the most important rule of all…all the kids want to play in the game. Always remember that. Every kid on that bench – and their parent – is wondering when their kid will get into the game Coach…YOUR top priority is to make sure that happens for EVERY kid on your team.
Why do Moms and Dads come to the games? Simple…to watch their kid get into the game…and while you may feel that your top obligation is to win, the truth is – your top job is to get every kid on your roster into every game AND to make sure they get quality playing time…
If you think that winning the U-12 boys’ soccer trophy in your town is the ultimate goal, well, you really ought to re-consider why you’re coaching.
2. Follow the Golden Rule…this rule is very simple but very important! Coach, treat the kids on your team in the same manner that you would want your own kids to be treated…for any coach who wants to do the right thing, use the Golden Rule as your basic guiding principle. There is no excuse NOT to do this.
3. Kids actually do like discipline…it lets them know that you, as the coach, are taking their season as seriously as they do. So, let them know that you expect them to be on time, to hustle onto the field, to listen attentively to what you are saying, and so on…no, you don’t have to be Vince Lombardi with them, but let them know that if they’re going to be on the team, there are certain rules that have to be followed.
4. Speaking of discipline…once you set a rule, have the maturity to follow up with the punishment…for example, giving them a “time out” to sit for a while out of practice or a game. Playing time is what every kid craves, and if you take it away from them, they’ll get the point in a hurry.
5. Praise by Walking Around…make it a point to chat with each kid and give them a bit of praise in every practice. Use their first name when talking with them, make eye contact, and come up with some specific part of their game to praise.
6. If frustrated with a poor performance, ONLY criticize the TEAM…never single out just one player. That will ruin the kid’s self-esteem. Never pick on a child…on the other hand, if a kid makes a crucial mistake during the game, always emphasize that it’s ALWAYS team first – individual mistakes are just part of every game.
7. Never use sarcasm with young athletes….they just don’t understand the hidden humor; instead, it makes them think you’re putting them down. In short, just don’t do it!
8. Don’t give team lectures…coaches, kids zone you OUT very quickly. Their attention span is about 8 seconds. I remember one of my daughters had a lax coach who, after every game, would drone on and on for close to an hour. It was painful…and the girls hated it.
Coach…after the game…give the kids a very brief pep-talk, and then let them go onto their next activity. You can work on improving their skills at the next practice.
9. Be sure to smile…at a kids’ game, there’s no need to brood or be surly like a Bill Belichick…this is supposed to be about having fun. Let the kids know it’s okay to smile. Set the pace!
10. Remember – your own youth sports career is over….it’s in the books…this current season is about YOUR kid. Yeah, he or she may be your flesh-and-blood….but they are NOT you.
They are themselves, and are entitled to play sports in the way that THEY want to. They are not there to fulfill your own unattained dreams in sports.