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Of course, this really changes things for a youth coach because we need to teach correct fundamentals or we’ll simply be reinforcing bad habits kids develop. The hardest thing to do as a coach is to try and correct a flaw that a kid has developed over years of “practice”. This is even harder when kid is good, because correcting fundamental flaw generally means that getting worse before getting better. That means kid is going to be reluctant to try this “new” way and may not stick it out. In long run, difference could be huge. While we’ve already acknowledged that that we’re not developing professional athletes, there is no reason to limit ceiling on how well each child may develop. Coach’s Corner, Continued
The solution is simple: we need to learn right fundamentals before we start coaching. It’s a responsibility that we accept when we volunteer to coach. Now, up front, I want to make sure to state that most of us think we know much more about sports than we really do. We think that because we played and we were pretty good that we clearly know how to teach a kid to play baseball or basketball. That’s simply not true. Much of what we learned was wrong. We may also not know right way to communicate what we know to kids. Or, we may not know anything about sport if we’re stepping in and coaching soccer or another sport that wasn’t “big” when we were young.
Fortunately, there is help. Many leagues do a good job teaching their coaches fundamentals of game. Some leagues even offer mandatory coaching clinics for their coaches. These are really good starts, but generally not enough – especially as kids you coach get older and better. Before every season that I coach, I’ll watch several instructional tapes to review fundamentals and also learn new material. I re-watch tapes, often with my kids that we’ve seen before and buy a couple of new ones to add some wrinkles. Of course, at SportsKids.com, we do offer 1,000’s of instructional books and videos, but point of this section is to simply say to use whatever method you choose to make sure that you teach correct fundamentals. Every kid, even young kids, can learn with good coaching and remember: “Practice makes Permanent”.
The “Dad Hat” and “Coach Hat”
There is a huge difference between being a “Dad” and being a “Coach”. Each has different responsibilities and relationships with kids. Unfortunately, there isn’t a lot of overlap between two roles. I literally have two hats: one says “Dad” and other says “Coach”. Over years, my kids and I have learned to separate two so I don’t wear hats too often, but it does make distinction more literal. Coaching your own children is one of real challenges of youth sports because sometimes, you child wants or expects to have a dad when you’re team’s coach. If you can separate these roles, and both of your expectations, you and your child will have a much better youth sports experience.
Ken Kaiserman is the president of www.sportskids.com, a leading youth sports website featuring games, sports news, sports camp and league directories, community features, and the SportsKids.com Superstore with over 150,000 products.
Ken coaches youth football, basketball and baseball. He also serves on the local little league board of directors as well as the Park Advisory Board.