I have coached for the last 25 years – in youth leagues; football, basketball, and baseball; middle school football and basketball; and high school basketball. This book is a compilation of what I learned during that time, told through accounts of my experiences as well as those of my fellow coaches.
I want to say right off that I do not address college or professional coaching issues because I have no experience in those areas and those venues are totally different animals from coaching youth through high school ages.
Having said that, whether you are an experienced coach; relatively new to the coaching ranks; just starting out; or thinking about getting involved; there is something for you in this book. If you are in the early stages of your coaching career, this book will help you through your learning curve in a big way. No matter how well you know the sport you are coaching, you are not prepared for the challenges that teaching that sport to kids of these ages will present.
I still remember when I was about to coach my first T-ball team. I was thinking; “I know more than they do; this’ll be easy.” (That became the title of one of the chapters in the book.) How naïve I was, because there is so much more to coaching that just knowing the sport. If you are more experienced, this book will show you some teaching options you may not have considered. It might help you to see some of the old habits that coaches can fall into and provide you with ideas on how to avoid that kind of stale coaching rut.
I do not believe anyone could write a perfect book on coaching any more than anybody could write a perfect marriage manual or perfect child raising instructions. Every situation is different so I liken this book to a cookbook in that some of the, “recipes,” you will read about will be absolutely perfect for your situation; others you will tweak just a bit to fit your needs, while still others will spawn your own ideas for how to apply the same principles to your kids.
While I acknowledge that no two situations are the same, there are some things that I deem very important for all kids. These things are the ideals that too many coaches do not grasp or devote enough attention to. Youth sports are about far more than the skills you can teach your players and how many wins your team gets. Don’t get me wrong, you should teach your players all of the fundamentals and individual skills that you possibly can because you are trying to push them to the best of their abilities. Yes, you are also trying to win games. (More on this later.) Still, in the overall scheme of things; that is the smaller part of the job.
The most important thing in youth sports is that the kids have fun. That is what will get them to try their best and it will keep them coming back. As they age, the nature of the, “fun,” changes. When you are on a ball team, fun is not flicking the ear of the kid in front of you when the coach is talking or kicking dust in his cleats, etc. The fun comes from learning new things, being successful at those newly acquired skills, and the pride the kids take away from having worked hard to achieve their goals.
You’ll notice I haven’t said anything about winning yet, but what I did say will add up to winning more games in the long run.
The things you should be teaching your kids are the same things that we value in the teachers at your kids’ school; the staff at a manufacturing company – both management side and production side; and any other professional person you might encounter. Many of the things I talk about are things you might take for granted, but they are not innate. Kids have to learn these things somewhere and you, as the coach, can be a good place to start.
They need to learn what it means to make a commitment to a long-term task – and for young players, that can be as little as an entire season. As they get older, they will learn the commitment of off-season training. They need to be responsible to the commitment they made to the team and to themselves. There is a laundry list of things you can teach including but not limited to the obvious things such as punctuality, preparation, attentiveness, hard work, and perseverance.
I cover all of these topics and more in this book in a very easy-to-read style. I hope you enjoy this book and I wish you many happy years of coaching.
Be The Ultimate Sports Coach
The Definitive Practical Guide to Coaching Youth Sports. The How, the Why, and What to Avoid.