Congratulations! You did it! Or maybe you’re about to do it. Or thinking about it. Whatever the case, coaching youth sports is on your mind. That might excite, terrify, worry or inspire you. Or all of the above. Relax! It’s OK! You got this!
Seriously, you got this. I am here to help you and encourage you. I discovered youth coaching many years ago and over the decades have learned a lot. Some stuff the hard way, some easy. I want to make it as easy as possible for you to become the best coach you can be. You are doing something amazing! It may not seem like it now, but the work you are doing with young people will change the world. Whether that is for good or bad is largely up to you. But I can promise you this: you WILL have an impact on your team. On the players, the parents, the officials – everyone. You are the COACH!
I’ll start by offering you three practical things that will help you quickly lay a foundation you can build on as you grow into the role of Head Coach (if you are not the HC, don’t swipe!, this stuff is still helpful). I will offer more over time, but these three essentials will help you start the right way. I have found them to be the most critical factors for success:
The first essential: Get Help – But Not Just ANY Help!
You cannot do this alone. Ok, maybe you can – but you cannot do it alone well. You cannot reach your potential nor can you help the players reach theirs if you do this alone. Plus it’s just too much work! You need other volunteers to come alongside but be warned: the wrong volunteers are worse than doing it alone. You have to be picky and intentional. I suggest three criteria for selecting your staff:
- Are they willing to follow you as the leader?
- Are your values aligned?
- Are they committed?
Sit down with prospective assistants, team moms, etc. and ask these questions. Treat it as a job interview because that’s what it is. And if any of those three are a “no” then do not compromise for the sake of convenience! It’s not worth it.
The second essential: Get Educated and Organized.
By “education” I don’t mean you need a degree. You can do alright on your own, but you need to start right now (I mean, after this blog – because reading this counts toward getting educated!). There is a ton of stuff out there. Develop your leadership philosophy as well as your strategic skills. Pick one book about developing your philosophy as a coach (I like “InsideOut Coaching; How Sports Can Transform Lives” by Joe Erhmann), and one book that is specific to the strategy of the sport you are coaching. That’s a great start for education. And come back here to read more blogs about coaching – I will be offering lots more to help you.
Get organized. Start building your plan right away. Decide what elements will be in each practice, how much time you’ll allocate to each, define your strategy, how you will teach it, roles for you and your staff, what other roles need to be filled, etc.. Write it down and review it with your staff for input and improvement.
The third essential: Communicate.
I remember my first year coaching, I was so intimidated by everything that I really didn’t want to talk to the parents. I was afraid they’d figure out how clueless I was. Or that they’d try to manipulate me into giving their child an advantage, or that they’d judge me for something … a bunch of irrational fears! Once I started communicating with them, most of that went away. I discovered that they were really thankful I was coaching, and glad I was communicating with them. So write that “welcome to the team!” email, have lunch with the other coaches, share your ideas and start talking to as many players as you can.
There you go. Three good first steps to get you started. I will keep writing more and encourage you to come back to get more ideas to help you become the best coach you can be. Because that’s what the kids need – it’s what they deserve. And importantly, it’s what you deserve. Don’t settle for anything less than the best you can be!
What do you think? I want to hear. Email me at Bill@coachassist.org, or leave a comment below. Let’s start a conversation. Share your ideas, questions, thoughts, whatever. And come back here often to see what’s new.