9 Benefits of Coaching Youth Sports

Coaching youth sports is a great way to help kids grow on and off the field. If you are reading this, you likely have considered coaching one of your kids’ recreational teams. Coaches have an opportunity to help kids build self-esteem and self-worth. If you are debating whether or not coaching is for you, consider the following benefits of coaching youth sports.

Great Benefits of Coaching Youth Sports

1. Help Develop Good Sportsmanship

Everyone knows that good sportsmanship is important, but not all coaches are great models. Coaching youth sports gives you a unique opportunity to help kids develop the proper respect for all players and the game. If you have spent any time watching sports you have likely witnessed a coach losing their you know what after a bad call or play. I’m not saying that coaches should not get upset. However, youth coaches need to remember that they are setting the tone for the team.

My kids are grown now, but both played youth recreational and club sports for many years. I also coached several youth recreational volleyball teams. Over those years, I have witnessed some horrible behavior by coaches. I have seen coaches throwing clipboards, yelling obscenities at refs and coaches paying players if they hit an opposing team player with a volleyball, and more. Yes, that paying thing really happened!

You will have the ability to teach your players to respect all players and referees, be supportive, have a good attitude, and have self-control. Those skills are beneficial on and off the playing field. These kids need more parents that will step up to the plate and be the type of coaches that will have a positive impact.

Check out the Coaches Resources at the Aspen Institute Project Play for some helpful tips.

2. Help Kids Focus on Helping the Team

By coaching youth sports, you can help kids work together as a team. Teamwork is a lifelong skill that will have long- term benefits. Often kids start working on group projects in middle school and it continues into high school, college, and eventually the workforce. If kids can learn to worth together as a team at an early age they will develop skills that will help them throughout their life.

Everyone on the team needs to learn how to trust one another. Trust that their teammates are doing the best they can for that practice or that game. In addition, players need to learn how to earn the trust of their teammates. If a kid is goofing around at practice, it might be difficult for a teammate to trust that same player in the game. As a coach, you can help kids remember that they win and lose as a team. It’s not one play or player that wins or loses the game.

It’s important to balance learning the sport with having fun. Otherwise, the kids won’t want to attend practice. One way to do this is to find silly team-building activities to add to the end of practice. This will help foster team spirit and add some fun into practice. To find these activities, search Google for team building activities. I loved combining team building with a skill from the sport.

One of my favorite quotes about teamwork is: “Instead of being the best on the team, be the best FOR the team.”

3. Ensure all Players are Treated Fairly

Oftentimes players (or their parents) want special treatment. There will always be players of different skill levels on a team. It’s a coaches responsibility to balance the highly skilled players with the developing players. As a parent coach, you can ensure this happens. Of course, you might need to explain your philosophy to the parents at the beginning of the season to set expectations. I’m not necessarily talking about equal playing time. All teams like to win and sometimes that means shifting players around to help make that happen.

I am talking about treating each player with respect and encouragement. A coach needs to model how they want all players to be treated. Coaches also can help foster the same respect and encouragement between players. The best player on the team doesn’t get to skip practice. The worst player on the team doesn’t get to goof off all practice. They all need to work to make the team better as a whole.

4. Encourage Parents to be Positive Spectators

According to the Grandview TedX talk by Matt Young, “Give Sports Back to the Kids” each year 40 million kids register to play youth sports and 70 % quit by the age of 13.

I hate to mention the parents, but unfortunately, some parents are not positive spectators. I have seen parents chat negative things while the opposing team is serving the volleyball. These are kids! My daughter was on a volleyball team, where a teammate’s parent was escorted out of the tournament for continuing to yell at a referee.

As a coach, you can encourage parents to be positive spectators. If you have a hard time doing this, find out if there are a set of spectator rules of conduct for the sport. Then you can pass those along to the parents as well. Some parents may need that extra set of rules to help them stay calm. At our local rec center, coaches have to sign a code of conduct that includes that the coach is responsible for parent/spectator behavior.

5. Help Create Friendships Outside of School

It’s nice for kids to have more than one circle of friendships. Sometimes the school circle of friends isn’t that great, so having a team of kids that support each other is so beneficial. A coach can help foster these friendships, by making sure all of the players respect each other. Sometimes the best and/or the worst player on the team struggles with developing those friendships. If you can develop an atmosphere of support, that will go a long way to building those friendships.

6. You Control the Coaching Narrative

When a coach gives players positive reinforcement on what they are doing right, the kids listen. If a coach is always spewing negative remarks about what they did wrong, guess what? The player is going to start tuning out that coach because those negative comments ruin the fun. If a player isn’t listening to the coach, then learning is dramatically reduced.

We all like to win games and to do that the kids need to listen to the coach. So if possible, try to put a positive spin when correcting a player. If you have to give critical advice to a player, find some positive feedback to give first. Phil Jackson, coach of the Chicago Bulls says the ideal ratio between truthful positive praise and constructive criticism is 5:1.

For more help on being a positive coach, check out the Positive Coaching Alliance.

7. Coaching Youth Sports is Rewarding

Watching players enjoy a sport while knowing you are helping foster the love of the game is so rewarding. So many coaches these days ruin a sport for a kid and that is flat-out sad. Most of the kids I coached had never played volleyball, so I wanted their first experience to be positive. Years later, many of those kids were playing on top club teams and competing on a national level. It’s very cool to see those players develop into athletes that love a sport.

8. Help Kids with other Coaches, Teachers, etc…

My kids had many coaches throughout elementary, middle, and high school. Some were great in the way they worked to get the best out of their players. Some of the coaches ruined the love of the game. Sadly I believe those coaches had great knowledge of the game, but their extreme negativity prevented the players from absorbing that knowledge.

The not-so-good coaches need to be balanced out with good parenting. When kids learn how to “deal” with negative coaches, they will be better apt to handle poor teachers, professors, and bosses. Let’s face it…everyone is bound to have these in their life.

Coaching allows you to see the inside view of how kids react to instruction. You also get a broader perspective of the challenges a coach faces working with a variety of kids. This perspective can help you give your child a better understanding of a teacher’s or coach’s point of view.

9. Keep the Game Fun

The number one reason kids play sports is that it’s fun. A coach that yells negative things at their players, ruins the game. When I coached youth volleyball, I tried to have a fun game during each practice that the kids loved. I often told my players that we would play the game at the end of practice if they worked hard during practice. After they worked hard, it was fun for me to see them laughing and enjoying themselves at the end.

A great resource for some additional coaching tips is at How to Coach Kids.

This post is all about coaching youth sports.

Coaching youth sports is a great way to help kids learn about team work, good sportsmanship and skills of a sport. Hopefully, this article helped you decide if you will take that leap and become a coach!

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