Coaching youth sports over the past several years has been one of my best experiences. Although my dad was a youth sports coach, and my brother was a coach at the collegiate level, I never thought I would coach.
I thought, “no chance!” Now I’m hooked and realize what great responsibility comes with it, and what a privilege it is.
How coaching began for me
I will never forget the first time I signed up to coach. I only signed up because my daughter was playing, and they didn’t have enough parent volunteers. I remember thinking, “how did I get into this?” The first task was to attend a coaches training hosted by the YMCA director.
A training for coaching 6-7 year olds, why was this necessary? When we sat down, there were some parents who looked like they never played a sport in their lives, and others who looked like they lived in the gym or could have run a marathon prior to coming.
Putting perspective on coaching youth sports
When the training started we watched some videos, which looked like they were from the 70s and 80s. My thoughts were why are we watching this corny stuff. It felt like a total waste of time, and I was ready to go. Then, as the videos were stopped the trainer brought it all into perspective.
He said something like this,
“Coaching youth sports is very important. It may not seem like much right now, but you will have an impact on these kids which will last a lifetime. You will help shape the way they live their lives. They will never forget you, and you will always be ‘coach’ to them.“
The ‘light bulb’ moment
That is when it hit me. This isn’t a waste of time, it isn’t corny. The trainer went on to say how the kids will see you in the community years later, and walk up to you calling you, “coach.” That took me back to my days playing youth sports, and my dad coaching.
I still run into people to this day who share with me the impact my dad had on them as a coach. Over thirty years later the impact he had through coaching us and our friends is still there. That is a tremendous responsibility, but an even greater privilege.
- Your interaction can help build or tear down a child’s character
- You may be the only positive influence they have in their life
- You may be the coach that sparked the love of the game for a future superstar athlete
- You set the bar for how a coach should interact with a player
- You show them what it is to be accountable to those who depend on you
- You teach them sportsmanship in winning and losing, which will help them handle success or failure in life
- You show the importance of physical activity and how fun it is staying active in life
Passing the baton…one coach to the next
You may be at the beginning of your youth sports coaching “career”, or reluctantly considering it. Let my story encourage you to fully accept it, and all it brings. It is one of life’s great responsibilities and privileges.
Question: Have you had the responsibility and privilege of coaching youth sports? If so, please share your experiences and the impact it is having on the kids you coach as well as your very own life.
Jackie Bledsoe, Jr. is a sports parent of three, and writes on sports parenting. He has played sports for over 30 years, including the collegiate level, and coached youth sports for the past eight years.