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Discover the joy of coaching

Have you ever wondered why so many people — parents and aspiring young coaches — sign up to coach children’s teams?

It’s simple, really. Coaching kids is terrific fun — and moms, dads and all those who have experienced the joy of coaching and mentoring will know exactly what I’m talking about. For some volunteers, it’s a chance to help out the community, get some fresh air and be around to lend a helping hand to young players and athletes. For others, it’s an opportunity to make a significant, positive impact on young lives or take the first steps towards a career in sports education, including coaching.

Looking back on my own long career in basketball, I clearly recall three coaches in grades III-VI — a YMCA basketball coach, my junior high football, basketball, and baseball coach, and my high school basketball coach with great fondness. Most of you may remember a cricket or soccer coach who took the time to introduce you to the basics of these games and showed confidence in the way you played them. Whatever your own positive memories you can return the favour by volunteering to coach the next generation of athletes and sportspersons.
If you take the plunge, you’ll find that today’s kids are very eager to play and improve their game. Especially if they’re struggling, they’ll want a coach to step up, give them a reassuring pat on the back and take a few moments to work with them on their game. Show them how to hold a cricket bat, or the right type of shoes to purchase, how to backspin a tennis shot, how to head a soccer ball and how to make a reverse layup.

This is where the fun comes alive. When you go all out to help a young person to learn an athletic skill, you can see her eyes light up with excitement and enthusiasm as she gets closer to mastering it. And that is the essence of coaching. It enables and empowers young people and provides emotional satisfaction to coaches.

To realise these magic moments, keep these simple guidelines in mind:

• Make sure to spend at least half of each practice sessionwalking around talking to each kid, helping players with the skills they’re trying to develop or perfect. If they’re doing an activity well, tell them so. Kids like it when a coach (especially one who lives in the community) praises their effort.

• If you help kids with specific skills, demonstrate the skill first and then let them try it. Avoid lectures. Just give children a demo, and then let them practice and learn. Instruct them without boring them, so they learn faster and better.

• Regardless of whether they’ve mastered a skill or not, be sure to praise the effort. In most cases, kids will improve quickly, and a few will even exhibit mastery potential. But they need positive, encouraging reports of progress. Praise goes a long way when you’re coaching.

• Adopt the same low-key, positive approach for your own child. Don’t change your style just because you’re the head coach and your son or daughter is playing on your team. Exhibit and practice equality.

Coaching kids is one of the great joys of parenting. If you haven’t started yet, here’s some additional friendly advice:

• Keep smiling. Kids respond better and enjoy the experience of play and sports much more when they play for a coach who knows how to laugh.

• Make time to get to know each athlete/player. Get to know names and faces as quickly as possible. Let them know you’re rooting for their success.

• Read and study the rule book carefully. Rest assured that some rules of the sport/game you’re coaching will have changed since when you were a kid.

• Acknowledge that the win-at-all-costs mentality is putting millions of young people off sports. Regrettably, in my country, hyper-organised and over-competitive youth sports have been completely hijacked by adults. There’s nothing wrong with competition, but when parents start competing, things tend to go awry.

Sports and games teach children how to push boundaries and transcend their physical and mental limitations. Most kids instinctively know they must work hard to achieve set goals. But on playing fields, it’s a valuable advantage to receive support and encouragement from coaches and teammates.


(Dr. George A. Selleck is a San Francisco-based advisor to EduSports, Bangalore)

294 Views  | Posted on:10 May,2017 Add Comment  Show Comments (0)