Youth Sports: It's Not About the Coach
If you have kids in a "competitive" sports league or watched a youth game of a relative or family friend, you more than likely have seen an overzealous coach. It's the coach who's always yelling at players and referees. The coach who's not playing all the kids. The coach who bases his team's success strictly on wins. It's the coach proudly holding a trophy in the air along with the kids after a win. In general, it's the coach who feels they are one of the competitors. They are not.
Across the country, many of today's youth sports programs put way too much emphasis on winning, and this is reflected by the coaches. Coaches of youth programs should not have winning as their number one goal. Quite frankly, winning is easy if you are willing to take shortcuts, which is what is happening. There are a number of negative side effects to having a "win first" attitude.
The biggest problem is early age attrition. Coaches may decide not to play kids who have yet to peak. Many of these kids could end up quitting, either because sitting on the bench is not fun, or their parents feel they won't have future success and convince them to stop playing. It's not always clear how good an athlete will become when they are four to ten years old. Kids develop at different ages, and a coach and a program's goal should be to keep as many kids playing sports for as long as they can. Coaches and parents should never be the reason an athlete stops playing a sport. Athletes in a competitive environment are not going to have the exact same playing time or play all the positions, however, a coach should never completely shut down the athletes who have not quite developed. Coaches should spend just as much time coaching them as they do their star players, provided they are willing to listen.
Finally, parents and coaches need to keep things in perspective while their athletes are competing in youth sports. A main goal of a youth sports coach is to keep kids playing by creating a fun environment. Secondly, you are trying to teach them how to do things the right way, so when they practice, they continue to improve, and put themselves in position to be successful when they get older. Never in high school or college did a coach base my playing time on how good I was when I was nine. Although winning is fun for the athletes, parents, and coaches, understand that winning games when you are eight doesn't mean a whole lot. It's absolutely okay to put kids in a competitive environment where the kids are trying to win. Just make sure the team/league is focused on the kids. Because it's not about the coach.
Stapleton All Sports is interested in attracting energetic, athletic coaches to work with kids ages 4-10. If interested in applying, contact Gabe Hurley at firstname.lastname@example.org