Youth Coaching is a Calling
If you have a bunch of little people running around the field -or the court- calling you Coach, you have taken on one of the most influential positions, other than a parent, can ever have with a child. Some people may call it a job, and others a profession, but being a great coach is so much more than that.
By accepting a position as a youth coach, you have chosen to work with young athletes. You have chosen to train them in their sport and to guide them in their life. You are in a position to change their lives forever, not only by making them better athletes but by building them into better people. “You are a leader, you are a role model, you are a person who serves your athletes, and you are a person to whom they entrust their physical and emotional well-being. Never take this responsibility lightly.” Not only does your athlete trust you but their parent has placed their trust in you as well.
Coaching can be one of the most difficult jobs in the world. “We work with young athletes in highly emotional and public situations. We keep score, and because of that our work is often judged week to week, even day to day, based upon the performance of a bunch of kids, how well they play, how much they play, and where they play. Every time we coach, our words and actions can have a huge impact on the lives of our players, both positively and negatively. We are faced with moments of success and failure, and with calls from officials both good and bad. Our words and actions in these situations can stick with our players forever.” Here’s the thing: we don’t get to choose which things stick, and which ones they forget, so in everything we say and do, we have to choose wisely.
Every player we coach, we leave a lasting impact. There is no way around the simple fact that you will influence every player you come in contact with. The only choice you get to make is what your influence will be. Will it be positive and affirming, boosting your athlete’s confidence? Will it be a fulfilling experience for you and your players? Will it be enjoyable? What will your legacy as a coach be?
Being a coach is so much more than running a bunch of practices and organizing kids for games. It’s about connecting with your players as people first, regardless of how little they are, and then as athletes second. It’s about being passionate about the game you teach so your players will play with passion. It’s about empathy, making every player feel important to the team. It’s about integrity and consistency for kids during good and bad times. It’s about being a model of the behavior you expect from your athletes, both on and off-field, or the court.
Youth coaching can’t be just a job. If it is, you’re doing it wrong. For coaching to be in its purest form, it should be your calling – for you to be in a place that best fits your skills, your abilities, and your passion.