Tips For Coaching Girl's Sports....
Get to know each girl.
Depending on the size of the team you are coaching this can be a more difficult with the more girls you have. When I say get to know them this doesn't mean how great their serve is, or how fast they are, knowing their pitching style, nothing like that. I mean get to know them by knowing what school they go to, or if they have siblings, when their birthday is, the more personal things. Showing an interest in your players personal lives builds a coach between you and them. This will help them trust you and respect you more. Also, don't close off your life to them. Obviously you are meant to be a role model but letting them know things about your life will make the bond stronger.
Show them you make mistakes too.
Allowing your team to see you make mistakes will still help them learn. They need to know that making mistakes is part of the process. Its a basic building block to success, if you teach them how to continue after they mess up or have trouble then you will have an unstoppable group of young women. Don't shame the girls weak points, embrace them so they have the drive to overcome them.
Make teamwork a priority.
You can have a group of girls who are the most skilled athletes of their kind but if they don't know how to work together their individual skills are useless. Promote the idea that we win as a team and we lose as a team. If one player is doing something wrong punish the entire team. If one person is struggling with something, the whole team can work on it. You want the players to be able to move as a unit and work together with ease. Have them do drills where they have to work closely to one another and have to communicate a lot. Plan team trips or bonding activities outside of practices. Have a slumber party with all of the girls or plan a team camping trip. These small things can go a long way in the way the girls will work together and communicate.
Teach good sportsmanship.
Even if this item doesn't improve playing ability this is an important factor when coaching young minds. Good sportsmanship is often forgotten in youth sports and when you are teaching impressionable ages teaching them virtues is almost more important then teaching them they sport they play. This means saying good job even if your angry, Avoiding verbal abuse to apposing teams, thanking the opposing teams and coach, just small acts that can change the entire vibe and intensity of the game. Being a sore winner can also be classified as bad sportsmanship. If a team is losing by an extreme amount it is just the right thing to do to switch up the line up or change positions. A lot of youth sports contain a mercy rule where if the point difference becomes large enough then they will either call the game or give the other team a chance to catch up in some way. Laying down rules for parents can also fall into this category sometimes they have a terrible case of bad sportsmanship. If they become disruptive or inappropriate then they should be spoken to or asked to leave. Be a role model and show great sportsmanship to the opposing coaches and players so they can follow.
Don't be overly competitive.
A little competition is always a good things because it pushes kids to work harder. Its important to remember than winning isn't everything. It will take time before you know the girls well enough to know their limits but once you do its important to push them to their limit so they can improve. However pushing too hard can result in injuries and making them sick. In the beginning it will be trial and error with continuous growth each practice. At the beginning of the season set the bar pretty low then continue to raise it every practice so they can gradually become better. Focus on your team instead of the upcoming game or tournament. The best you can hope for is just that they are a better version of themselves than they were yesterday.
Plan practice ahead of time.
You can't put a timeline on learning because everyone learns at their own pace but you can create a general plan. If you are unable to stay on schedule with the original timeline then you can always go through and modify it later. This creates a step by step plan to improve skills and find areas that may need more areas then others. There are numerous ways to go about this depending on the sport you coach and the amount of girls on the team. This is the way I found works best fr my team. For the first few practices have them run through drills that will reveal their skill level, endurance, and overall ability. When all players have been thoroughly evaluated you can split the girls into groups according to skill level. Once they have been split into groups by overall skill level you can either go back and look over your original evaluations or go through a second round of evaluations so you can focus on each group and what each group needs to work on. After you have collected plenty of information and ideas you can begin organizing them in a practice plans for weeks ahead of time.
Share knowledge with your team.
Depending on the general age of the players on your team it is easy and educational to create a group on Facebook or through your email where you can share valuable information to help your team learn just as much outside of practice as you do during practice. I personally recommend Facebook because most teens/young adults will check that far more often then they will their email. You can post video tutorials, inform everyone of cancellations, and share rolls. It also gives your team a place ask questions about practice times or if they have no ride to practice they can reach out to their teammates to see if anybody would be able to give them a ride. Sometimes it hard to keep track of everything so it is beneficial saving on Facebook because anything you forget you can go back in and find it.
Don't be afraid to punish them.
I have seen many coaches who were too afraid of the parents so the team suffered. This step is similar to the saying sometimes you have to be a parent and not a friend. Sometimes I have to be a coach and not a friend. The only way to get the team to listen to you is if you are stern and consistent. Even if parents have the final say in what happens to a child legally but it is a good idea to set boundaries with parents. Let them know what they can and what they can. Personally I let the parent know that they are more then welcome to stay and watch however when they are on my field or track then they are temporarily my children. You can warn them that if their presence becomes a distraction you will have to ask them to leave.
Don't forget to have fun.
Even if you coach a competitive sport don't allow the competition aspect to be the only thing they can think of. Include games into practices. Don't let the fact that your their coach kill your ability to laugh. Sometimes the best way kids learn is by having fun and being silly. This can also double as a form of team bonding. A team that laughs together wins together and works together. Just because you are their authority figure doesn't mean you have to be serious and stern the entire time. Fun should be a top priority because it easily forgotten that they are just kids and they should love what they are doing. Don't let that fall to the side when you are working on their physical goals. Make everything you do with them fun and entertaining. Help them grow their love for the sport they are part of.
Find out their goals.
At the beginning of the season take the time to make meetings with each player so you can find out what their long term and short term goals are for personal growth and team growth. After you have talked with everyone you can compare the meetings to each other. This will help create a guide to know which direction to go with training. The more questions you ask about what they want to improve and what their goals are the easier it will be to create practice plans that cater to your athletes needs. Creating a plan based on their needs will also minimize the bumps in the road by targeting their problem areas before others. Setting up a meeting mid season and at the end of the season can also be helpful. You can keep track of how much they feel they are advancing through the season and also give you a chance to evaluate if your plan is working. This gives you the opportunity to adjust the teaching plan if it is not effective before too much time is wasted.
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