It's not just how you coach them, it's how you treat them
By Chad White
Results! Essentially that’s what we are all looking for as coaches within different youth sports segments. Ideally, we are hoping that our kids show growth and develop both mentally and physically over the course of the season. We may hope for the team full of players who are engaged and eager to learn, but in reality that group of kids may make up 10 percent of our roster – if we’re lucky.
So, what exactly is it that achieves the results we would like to see as coaches? Is it the non-stop teaching of fundamentals? Is it long practices or two-a-days? Is it longer seasons, more travel time, or schedules to put your players up against the most challenging teams? Possibly; however, the one fact that some coaches tend to forget is that not all children learn in the same way!
Think about what motivates you? What makes you want to be successful in your career? What makes you want to be a good parent, a good spouse? Are you self-driven, or do you need to hear, or see, recognition from others? Point being, we are all different, and our children are no exception. As coaches, we must be able to adapt our techniques. We must be able to coach not only to an individual player’s needs, but we must also be able to coach to their individual learning style. Not every player is going to respond to the aggressive coach that is constantly in the players’ faces demanding results. In addition, not every player is going to respond to the never-ending “You can do its” without the eventual push to get better.
While there are numerous ways to coach players, in my experience there is one sure way to get results. If you are wanting to have a positive impact in the lives of your players, you have to not only focus on coaching them well, but you must always treat them well! Coaches need not lose sight of their overall impact on a child as a role model in their life. However, being a role model doesn’t always mean that a person is looked up to. This admiration is a result of caring for others and treating them with respect and dignity. As a coach, you should love each of your players and get to know them as individuals – just smaller in stature!
How exactly is this done? Coaches must take the time to separate the player from the sport. By this, I simply mean that a coach must take the time to get to know a player outside of the sport. Take the time to ask how their day went at school, ask them what they are most excited about over the upcoming weekend, and even ask what is currently challenging in their life. But don’t just ask the questions, take the time to listen and take interest in their life!
Children naturally respond to acknowledgement. They are constantly looking for people and behaviors to emulate. By taking an interest in their lives, you will have created a desire within them to respond positively to you. Furthermore, as you begin to know your players as individuals, you will fully understand what motivates them to be successful and can coach in a way that truly achieves results. When a child becomes more than just a player on the team, they are no longer playing for themselves – they are playing for you!
Chad White coaches girls volleyball, basketball and softball in Bowling Green, Kentucky.
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