Coaching young athletes is one of the most challenging tasks for a coach. There is the need to establish a clear philosophy and vision to put the children’s interest in the forefront. This does not only influence the manner of coaching children in sports but it also develops the kids’ perception in pursuit of their interest in sports.
Perhaps the best applicable philosophy in coaching children in sports is to advocate sport as a venue for young kids to appreciate their bodies, discover their abilities using their physical qualities and exercise their bodies’ potentials and limits. It is not about participating in competitions and celebrating the results, but it is about exploring the body within a contested space that involves different movements such as running, kicking, hitting and more together with other sports-minded people belonging to the same league.
Partnership with the Parents
Coaching children is not the sole domain of a coach. The parents of the young athletes need to be involved that is why it is important to meet and discuss with them the parameters of coaching their children. Although the final say lies with the coach, the parents must be given the opportunity to provide inputs when framing the rules because after all, it is their children who are going to be affected most. What are the rules to be set? How are they going to be implemented? What are the sanctions for failure to abide? How beneficial are they to the children?
There must be regular or occasional meetings with the parents to update them of their child’s progress, behavior and other concerns. Always remind them of the team’s philosophy and discuss the existing or new rules. Allow parents to air their views and consider their suggestions. However, if the coach feels the philosophy is being compromised, he can exercise authority provided he remains within the bounds of rules and ethics. Some of the more important factors to be discussed with parents include the financial aspects like expenses for the uniforms, sports equipment, etc. Also to be discussed are the nutrition requirements of the children, possibility of injury, schedules and others.
Parents must be told to express any particular circumstances involving their kids. For example, kids who are experiencing some domestic problems need special considerations instead of being misinterpreted as being difficult or lacking commitment. An open communication line with the parents can prevent misunderstanding. It is beneficial to establish trust between coach and parents who will feel more confident to entrust their young athletes to a compassionate and supportive coach.
Coaching children in sports largely focuses on their safety. While it is difficult to prevent injuries due to high physical exertions, it is best to inform the parents of all possibilities. However, safety is not the sole responsibility of the coach because parents have their own part in ensuring their children come home in one piece. Parents must strictly observe the team’s regulation on picking up the children after each practice or game. They must always be informed of the right time when to pick their child or who are authorized to collect them in case the parents cannot come personally.
Coaching children in sports can make or break the young athletes’ future in the sporting arena. Although it is not always a winning streak, the way a coach grooms and disciplines his stable of players can easily make them accept defeat nobly. While he can be considered as a parent on the court, there are still the real parents of the kids who have the final decision when it comes to their child’s welfare. Establishing a good partnership with the parents from the start of the practice is the ideal way of involving them in shaping up their child into becoming the next most valuable player of the season.