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Monday, March 28, 2011

The "Parent satisfaction checklist" regarding your child's youth coach

Surely thoughtful parents—and youth coaches—realize that there are far more important things than seeing your son or daughter’s team “win”.

Of course it’s fun to win. And, for better or worse, in youth leagues where we keep score, everyone knows who walks away from the field with the “w”.

However, in terms of what is actually important regarding a young athlete’s development and psyche, what are some of the things we should assess to determine if a youth coach is making progress with our son or daughter at those important early ages?

Here is a short checklist which might help keep things in perspective:

 Is the young player able to perform more of the essential skills than they were at the start of the season?

 When you watch your child’s team practice, is there a lot of standing around, or are all the kids active and engaged most of the time?

 Is actual instruction taking place?

 Has the coach taken the time to find out what your child really loves about the sport he/she is playing?

 Did your child’s coach meet with the team before the season started to establish joint expectations, to ensure there wouldn’t be any misunderstandings later on?

 Does your child leave practices happy? In other words, do they look forward to going to practice, and come home tired—in a good way?

 When you discuss the sport they are engaged in, is it a joyful thing for your child to talk about?

 Can you child’s coach actually demonstrate the skills they are discussing and/or trying to teach?

 Is the coach a good role-model for your son or daughter in terms of their language, behavior, attitude and the way they speak and interact with their young players, as well as game officials?

 Is the coach more concerned with winning or in developing the skills of each of his/her players?

 Is your child’s coach an effective communicator—with players and parents?

 Does the coach know how to motivate young athletes in a good way?

 Does your child’s coach make the experience fun?

Young people are involved in sports for a host of reasons. Perhaps their parents simply want them to be—or stay—active. They may love a particular sport and are “good” at it. They may just love to compete. They may even think that they want a future in the sport, for as long as they are able to play.

The one thing we don’t want to do as parents—or coaches—is to destroy the natural love the young person has for the game.

If you see you are having that affect as a parent, because of your constant criticism or attitude…STOP. Right now!

If your child’s coach helps make your son or daughter love the game even more, then that’s a huge positive.

If the coach, though, is chipping away or your child’s confidence or you see that your son or daughter no longer loves playing because of the coach, it is likely time to find a new coach.

That said, communicate first with the coach about the needs of your child. Open communication can break down barriers. A coach may be a good coach in many ways, but may not see the impact (if negative) that they are having on particular players.

Importantly, you need to understand what the coach is trying to achieve. They may be a "tough" coach, for example, but a very good and effective one.

But if they are not responsive or open to dialogue, you may have to find another situation for your child.

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