If you are a youth sports coach, how did you get started? Is it something you wanted to do since before your first child came home from the hospital? For some parents, it is that way.
For others, and I’m among them, it was a choice made to help a son or daughter. My older boy was six years old and had signed up for a YMCA basketball league. He was put on a team with a coach who had to bow out before the first practice. A parent needed to step up, and it wasn’t at all hard to beat the rush. In that first season, the only other parent actually was a grandparent, who had to quit after a few games for health reasons. I was on my own.
But I had no regrets. I had played and watched sports all my life so it wasn’t difficult from a knowledge perspective. Keeping 10 six-year-old boys focused all by myself at practice was bit more problematic. Things turned out fine, though, and I never looked back, moving on to other sports as my son grew and soon was joined by his younger brother.
It’s a rewarding role to play, if not always an easy one. If you’ve never done it, consider starting as an assistant coach before stepping up to the head job in whatever sports need you. If you decide after the season you’d rather watch from the bleachers, at least you’ll have a new appreciation for the challenges of the job.
I will say that it’s not just a matter of filling out a batting order or scribbling Xs and Os on a white board. One of the biggest issues is coaching your own child among a lot of other kids. It requires striking a delicate emotional balance. You don’t want to short-change your son or daughter in an effort to appear objective, for example, and you definitely want to leave the game on the field rather than taking it home for further discussion. It can be a great bonding experience that, when the practice or game begins, you have to try to forget about.
Somewhat ironically, it seems that parents who haven’t played the game much or who don’t particularly relish competition do better than those of us whose instincts are more jugular-centric. I have no evidence to support that claim – just an anecdotal observation from personal experience. A dispassionate, kid-focused approach tends to work better, especially when they’re little.
Despite the time pressure the responsibility of the job brings to your life, coaching is a very rewarding experience that provides plenty of wonderful memories. After you’ve weighed the issues presented in this article and done a bit of self-reflection, you might want to give it a try.