Whether your young athletes are already on a team or will be with a coach for the first time, it’s important to consider how a coach affects sports kids’ experience.
Coaches can increase kids’ confidence and impart important life lessons—or they can sink kids’ confidence and even prompt them to quit.
Coaches who focus too much on winning, or yell, pressure or put kids down often undermine kids’ confidence. On the other hand, coaches who focus on teamwork and growing and learning through sports will often boost kids’ confidence.
Do your family a favor and be sure to interview your kids’ existing or potential coaches. This will help you understand a coach’s philosophy and whether it’s right for your kids.
What’s more, if you decide the coach is appropriate for your kids, gathering this information about him or her can help you identify how best you can support the team.
When you approach a coach to ask these questions, be sure to do it in a diplomatic way. Don’t put the coach on the defensive. You could say something like, “Hey coach, before I sign my child up for your team this year, I want to ask a couple of questions.”
First of all, ask about the coach’s philosophy. How important is winning? How important is having fun? You learn a lot asking this question. If coaches say their goal is to win, win, win, make sure this goal aligns with yours—and think twice if your child is a new or young player.
If coaches say their goal is to ensure kids have fun, you might politely dig a little deeper. How do they ensure kids have fun? If the answer is, “They’ll have fun if they win!” you might want to think twice about the coach. You want to make sure the coach has really thought about the importance of having fun and has a plan in place.
Keep in mind: When kids have fun, they’re likely to learn more and feel more confident about sports!
You might also ask other parents about this coach’s philosophy and style.
What’s more, try to watch the coach in action. Does he or she provide genuinely positive feedback, make kids laugh and smile, and help them understand how they can learn from mistakes? Does the coach seem focused on building teamwork and a positive team culture? Those are all important traits.
Award-winning parenting writer Lisa Cohn and Youth Sports Psychology expert Dr. Patrick Cohn are co-founders of The Ultimate Sports Parent. Pick up their free e-book, “Ten Tips to Improve Confidence and Success in Young Athletes” by visiting http://www.youthsportspsychology.com