Volunteer Coach, Who me?
Brandon Vanderhoof, YMCA
“You want me to coach soccer? I don’t know anything about soccer! You wouldn’t want me to be a coach.” As a Youth Sports Director, this is something I often hear. Parents think they are not qualified to be a coach because they feel they don’t have the knowledge necessary to teach the skills of the game. This often keeps them from volunteering to coach their son or daughter’s team.
I have had the opportunity to supervise many different sports leagues and observe and help multiple coaches. I have also done a lot of coaching including coaching my own children in basketball, soccer and football. Through these experiences, I have learned that a successful coach isn’t always the coach with an in-depth knowledge of the sport, but rather one that is committed to the job for other reasons.
When I register my children for a sport their first question is, “Are you going to coach?” They do not care about how much knowledge I have about the sport, they just want to enjoy the experience together. As a child, I had the opportunity of having my father as a coach. What I remember the most is how much I enjoyed spending time with him on the basketball court and the baseball field. Coaching your child is another way to build a lasting relationship. In the end, your child will not remember how much you knew about the sport, but they will remember the time they spent with you.
Additionally, you will build and model strong relationships for the other members of your team, as well as create relationships with the parents of your team members. Parents that trust coaches will naturally encourage their child to be a leader on the team, be respectful and work hard. All of this leads to a stronger, more solid team experience for each person involved.
The most important thing you can do as a coach is to make sure you, and your team, are having fun! If you asked your child why they like playing sports, the most popular answer is likely that “It’s fun,” or “I want to have fun.” How you make that happen is with your attitude and approach. A positive attitude goes a long way to creating a fun environment. If you show up to each practice and game with a smile, and provide encouraging feedback on what your players are doing well, along with how they can improve, you and your team will have fun each week. The players will develop a love for the sport and you will enjoy every minute of your coaching experience.
Role Model Sportsmanship
Sportsmanship is all about how you treat others. A good coach needs to model true sportsmanship. This means teaching players how to handle a call, even if you don’t agree with it. It is about teaching kids that it is OK to make mistakes as long as you learn from them, and that no matter the outcome of the game, you should be happy with how hard your team worked. A memorable coach is the person who is a positive role model, demonstrates sportsmanship, teaches the team to be humble and stays calm in all situations. These are the valuable life lessons players are learning by being a part of a team.
An organized coach communicates with parents and players, comes prepared to all practices and games, and is committed to his or her team. It may seem like a simple idea, but even a coach who knows all there is to know isn’t helpful if he’s not present. A coach who shows their dedication to the job and to the team will get more out of their players throughout the season. When there is mutual respect between coaches and players, individuals will work harder not only to better themselves but to better the team as well.
If you can have fun, be a positive role model and be organized, then you have all the qualifications to be a great coach. Many organizations need dedicated and willing volunteers. Being a coach has a lasting impact on the organization, the participants and the coach. A great coach will teach his or her team sportsmanship, a love for the game, character values and teamwork. Go ahead, take that first step! Say, “I will coach,” and see the lasting impact your contribution will have.
Brandon Vanderhoof is the Sports and Recreation Director at the Heart of the Valley YMCA where he has worked for over 12 years. Brandon graduated from the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse with a Bachelor’s Degree in Sports Management
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