Selecting the right sports coach for your children should not be taken lightly. No matter what the field or discipline, coaches have a significant influence on the lives of those they teach, guide and lead. Thus it is absolutely necessary for parents to do proper diligence before selecting a sports coach. They will not only impact your children’s life during practice sessions, but also have a significant influence on their personality and attitude off the field. Thus strong favouritism towards high performing players will not only leave the less gifted players sitting on the bench, but actually hinder them from properly developing and honing their skills. This will undoubtedly have a severe impact on that child’s attitude towards the sport, sense of accomplishment and self worth in general, motivation to excel, and so on. It is crucial that every parent practise proper diligence when choosing a coach.
1. Competency, experience and reputation
At the beginning of your selection process, you will want to make sure the coach you are scrutinizing has credibility. Does he have a related degree or has he undergone some kind of coach training? Is there a certificate or diploma any coach should have for the particular sport your child is interested in? Furthermore, you will want to find out how much experience he has in coaching and what kind of a reputation he enjoys in your community.
2. Experienced first-aid practitioners
Any good coach will know how to act in an emergency. This implies he is a certified fist-aid practitioner. He should have some kind of a diploma to prove this and always have a first-aid kit ready so he may respond to emergencies appropriately. Furthermore, he must have medical training relevant to the sport he coaches. To give you an example, he must be able to recognize the early signs of exhaustion of those he coaches and never push them too far.
3. Positive attitude and encouragement
Unfortunately some people try to bend others to their will by inducing fear. Not only does this method usually yield poor results and lead to contempt, it will inadvertently cause your child to develop a negative attitude towards the sport. A coach must act as a role model, foster a positive environment and create incentives to improve by encouragement rather than reprimand.
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4. Patience and listening
Especially when coaching children, it is crucial that a mentor is both patient and willing to listen to his students. Unlike most adults, children are bound to make more mistakes and sometimes repeat them several times before learning. This must be met with calm and an ability and willingness to comprehensively explain and demonstrate the proper way of doing things.
5. Lack of stereotypes and fairness
Good coaches do not discriminate on the basis of gender, ethnicity, or any other distinctions. They treat every team member with respect, see potential in everyone and thus support and mentor all members. At the same time it’s essential that every child’s skills are assessed properly and thus everyone is given a training schedule tailored to their specific needs.
6. Separation of business and personal life
It is important that any leader masters the ability to emotionally separate work from personal life. But especially when you’re teaching children, this becomes a necessity, as they’re far more impressionable than adults. A true guide must be able to leave all negative emotions such as anger, which might have been caused by a quarrel with his spouse or best friend, behind when he goes to work.
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7. Setting realistic expectations
Any team’s performance is greatly dependent on its spirit, which in turn is indirectly dictated by past achievements. Setting unobtainable targets, is a method used by coaches who undoubtedly have a very strong ego and thus want their team to perform at the highest level without allowing it sufficient time to develop. This method however will almost always have the opposite effect. Development and advance in sports is a time consuming process that requires full dedication. It is essential that the coach recognizes this and subsequently create distinguishable increments to that final goal. Every “sub target” that is met must then be celebrated, as to impose a sense of accomplishment and strengthen team unity. This will feed every member the fuel to go on and tackle the next, more challenging goal.
8. Finding the balance
Another indispensable factor to keep a team motivated, is to allow it to have fun. A practice session should not merely consist of exercises, but always contain a large portion of game play. Finding the right balance between disciplined exercises and game play is going to be an important determining factor in the outcome of future games. Furthermore, allowing the element of fun will enhance the learning process, as people tend to learn most when doing a fun activity. Thus it is really important that a coach doesn’t solely focus on winning every game.
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9. Compassion and tolerance
A good sports coach must understand who he is training. As mentioned under a previous section, tailored training schedules must be created to address everyone’s unique level of skills. But even more, a good sports coach is expected to show compassion and tolerance for every team member. For example, should a player’s religion dictate certain precautions or behaviour, the coach will not only be required to make sure that player is able to comply with his values, but also communicate this in an understanding and tolerant fashion to the other team members as to prevent any disputes or conflicts.
10. Instillation of mutual respect
Having conflicts is part of human nature. Especially children can be very cruel with one another. Recognizing this can be difficult for a third party. Thus it is very important for you to select a sports coach who is aware these issues and constantly vigilant. Someone who is able to distinguish between what we might call “normal joking around” and systematic mobbing. Once an issue has been recognized, it must be dealt with appropriately. Ignorant or tactless intervention from the coach will likely worsen the situation for affected person. This implies that he should have undergone some kind of psychological training. It is important that a sports coach not only focus on gaining the team’s respect for himself, but that he shows the same respect towards every team member and tactfully encourages mutual respect between team members.
It becomes clear, that selecting the right sports coach for your children should not be taken lightly. It’s a long process that requires your fullest attention and commitment. You will want to resort to a variety of methods to obtain all the mentioned information. First and foremost, you will want to meet the coach in person to get an impression and also ask him about anything and everything. Secondly, you will want to demand proof of his competency in first aid, the sport itself, psychology and any other relevant skill set. This might come in form of diplomas and references. Thirdly, you should contact parents of existing team members and inquire about past problems in the team, how the coach handles certain situations, and any other insights or recommendations they might have. Furthermore, you will definitely want to periodically watch practice sessions. Perhaps and if time permits it, it might be prudent to organize yourself with other parents and make sure someone is present at every practice session. That parent could then also act as a designated driver for that session. What it comes down to is, the more research you do upfront, the better your chances will be of making a good and informed decision in the long run.