Seven Tips To Being A Great Coach
Coaching can be fun but daunting (especially if your new to it). I started coaching my son's soccer team last year and there is a lot that I learned.
Most importantly I learned how fun it can be to teach these little guys how to play soccer. I also realized that, as coaches, we can make a big difference in the lives of these kids and their desire to play sports.
The following tips will help you to stay organized while focusing on the kids and their needs.
1. Learn about the team and the club
When you first volunteer to coach you may feel a little overwhelmed. This is especially true if your child is new to the sport or club he or she is playing for. The best way to overcome this anxiety is to learn all you can about the club your team is a part of. Most clubs make this easy now because they have a website you can go to in order to learn more.
Club websites are invaluable. I use the club website almost everyday for several aspects of my coaching duties. These sites often contain the practice and game schedules for the team, a roster of the players and their parents, practice tips and ideas, maps of how to get to the practice fields, contact information for the club president and game rules and conduct. These sites, if they are set up correctly, make your job as a coach so much easier! Don't forget to use t!
At the beginning of each season I go onto the site and review the schedules, rules and maps.Doing this will help you feel organized and give you an idea of how the season will be laid out. I then print out the roster so that I have it with me on the first day of practice. This is a good habit to start as you will feel more confident when you meet the players and their parents for the first time. I find it also helps me learn their names faster.
As the coach, one of you main jobs is to communicate with your team and their parents.
It is important to be up front with the parents about every aspect of what will happen this season. I like to have a meeting with the parents and guardians the first day of practice so that I can introduce myself and inform them of a few items regarding the season. I usually let them know how long I have been coaching (and since it has not been that long, I ask for their patience). I then give them information on how the practices will go, what is considered appropriate conduct for them at the games and practices, I give out the uniforms the team will be wearing at the games and I tell them about the club's website so that they can get access to information they need, like the game schedule. I then ask for their help but delegating certain responsibilities. I will talk about this more a little later.
This first meeting is not the only time I communicate with the parents. I keep in touch with them through email, text and announcements on the club website. Changes with practices and games can occur quickly so I check the website almost everyday to stay on top of it and inform the parents as soon as possible. I make sure that they also have my contact information so that they can reach me with any questions or concerns they may have. I also send out regular reminders about games, uniforms or duties that parents should be reminded of. This is an important aspect of coaching as it keeps the parents informed and they feel more included in their child's team.
Okay, so let's be honest. I wish I was superwoman and could provide everything my team needs. I am sure as a new coach, you would like to do that too. However, reality is that we cannot do everything and things come up which may require that we have some help.
This is where delegating comes in. The first thing you will want to do is find out which of the parents would like to be an assistant coach for the season. You will want to have a back up person in case you need to miss a game or a practice. They are also helpful in that they can often help out with a child who needs one on one attention, or with helping you get control of the team if they get a little out of hand. The parents who answer your call for help in this capacity are often very excited to be a part of he action. They usually also have a good knowledge of the game. They can bring their experience and ideas to the team which helps you become a better coach as well. An other words, don't be afraid to ask!
Another example of something that is good to delegate are things like snacks. Often the sports club will advise to have a snack provided at each of the games and/or practices. There is no reason for you to bring them yourself. Your already coaching! Instead, ask one of the parents to be in charge of snacks. Have them set up a schedule that allows each family on the team to provide a snack at least once. Then post this schedule to the team website. This will make your life a lot easier.
4. Listen to the parents and the kids
I have not yet had a parent criticize my coaching. This is probably a good thing since I would just remind them that if they wanted to coach instead, they could have volunteered. However, I have had parents and children on my team give me ideas for practice techniques or games we can play to help develop new skills and abilities. These ideas have been fantastic and they often teach the children new skills that they can use as they continue to play.
That is why it is so important to listen to the things parents and children on the team tell you. You do not want to be the only voice on the team, you want to incorporate new ideas so that you and your team can improve. This also helps parents and children feel like they are really part of the team and they will appreciate you for that.
When coaching a team, especially a team of children, it is very important to make sure that you have a plan. An hour is longer than it seems when your the one in charge!
You will want to have the practice planned with some leeway. They are children after all. I think it is best to break the practice up in to different stages.
- First is the warm up. This is the most simple part of the practice. I like to have them run around the soccer field a couple times and make giant skips down the length of the field and back. This warms up their muscles and gets any butterflies out of their system so they can concentrate more on practice.
- Next it is important to have them stretch. Small children do not need to stretch but it is important to get them in the habit of doing so.
- The next part of practice involves working in simple skills like kicking and dribbling the ball. I like to have them dibble the ball down the field and back and then I put out cones and have them dribble around those. I also have them practice aiming for the goal and kicking to each other using various games and activities.
- From there it is important to have them scrimmage so that they get used to being in a game setting and working together as a team.
- I then have them cool down with the same, or similar routine, I used to warm them up. Then I conclude by having them stretch again.
This is a simple plan but it will allow you to change things up every so often to make it more fun for the children. You will want to do something a little different every week.
Planning things ahead of time also gives you and then parents more confidence.
6. Remember It's About The Kids
This is the most important part of the the whole coaching gig. No matter what happens with parents, other coaches, or referees; all you do as a coach is about the kids.
You need to remind yourself of that in a way that works best for you. I always remind myself what coaching is about by thinking about the fact that I decided to coach because of my son. I wanted to spend more time with him and he has always loved soccer. The other parents and children are on the team for the same reason, they love soccer and want to spend time together.
7. Make It Fun!!
Since coaching is about the kids, remember to make it fun! Sports practice and games do not, nor should they be, all business. Have fun with the kids. Play games like sharks and minnows or make up a game!
If the children on the team are a little restless or hyper, don't get frustrated, just go with it. You can have them do some jumping jacks or another exercise they like doing. Because these things happen once in a while it is good to have a fun back up plan in place.
Remember to be positive and encouraging during practice and games. Do not get frustrated or get upset with them. If you are positive the kids will have a great time!
Just have fun with it and they will too!!
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