Ask The Experts
Helping hand

Helping hand


Q: The coach of my 8-year-old son’s soccer team is a first-time coach and I’ve seen him flustered during practice when drills don’t go right. Should I offer to help him out, or will I be overstepping my bounds?

A: Should you offer assistance? Maybe, but what type of assistance did you have in mind? Would you be overstepping your bounds? Yes, you would likely be overstepping.

You may be thinking of offering advice, and that would be overstepping. Rather than helping, you would likely make the coach more flustered and create more second-guessing. Youth sports coaches typically are well-meaning volunteers with little training. The best way to help coaches is to be positive and supportive (which is also the best way to help the athletes).

Beyond that, the best way to help improve coaching, and improve the experience for the athletes, is to make sure everyone involved (coaches, administrators and parents) is on the same page about the goals of the program and how to achieve them. So instead, you might help get everyone on the same page.

You might take advantage of the various resources and programs available these days, which have great resources, including coach and parent educational materials and videos for youth sport programs. Development is the key goal, and a positive, supportive climate is the best way to promote development and continued participation.

More specifically, coaches and parents create a learning environment that emphasizes skill development, personal and team success, maximum effort and fun (note that success is defined by improvement, effort and meeting goals, not by win/loss records). 

You might suggest that your league get videos offered by these programs, and that all coaches and parents use them; that would help the coach, your son, and everyone in the soccer program.

Dr. Diane L. Gill is a professor of Sport and Exercise Psychology in the Department of Kinesiology at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.

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