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Coaching youth sports: A thread for Dawgnation parents.

texdawgtexdawg Posts: 11,553 ✭✭✭✭✭ Graduate
edited March 2020 in General

This is a thread for Dawgnation parents of young kids.

1. Dawgnation members who have coached youth sports......please chime in with advice on both failures and successes.

2. Dawgnation parents with young kids or future kids please ask questions.

Please respect others opinions. This is an all sports thread. I know there are coaches on here from a number of different sports.

And this is for both girls and boys athletes.

I've not only coached HS football. I also coached travel/select baseball for over 15 years and am currently coaching HS softball. I've coached both boys and girls and I've coached teams with my kids on the team.....and teams that didn't have my kids on it.

I've made far more mistakes coaching youth sports than HS sports....and my most embarrassing and regretful moments in life are probably from coaching youth sports.

And unfortunately...I've had kids I coached leave the field crying because of me. And it happened a couple of times with both my son and daughter.

So I've learned as much from my mistakes as I have from successes.

Following is just a few of the things I've learned from my years of coaching youth sports.

Hopefully other coaches will add some advice as well.

1. Start kids early - start them early. Get kids involved at an early age.

2. "Force" them early on - this sounds much worse than intended. Kids don't really know if they like something unless they try it. Your 5 year old will almost certainly never ask you to play soccer....sign them up. And give it time. You will have to "force" them to attend an 8am, Saturday morning, soccer or t-ball game at the Y.

3. Give it time and help nurture it by throwing the baseball, kicking the soccer ball, hitting golf balls or helping with any sport they are involved in. If you want a kid to love something....play with them. Get off the phone or get off the couch. And mow the lawn later.... play with your kids.

4. Give it time....but be observant. No one knows your kid as much as you do. Don't give a particular sport one season....give it a chance to take. However, you'll eventually know what your son's/daughter's passion is....or could be. It may be soccer...or it may be dance. It may be baseball....or it may be music. It may be football.. or it may be art. Regardless.. love them and support their passion.

5. PLAY MULTIPLE SPORTS - if your child does love sports....get them involved in multiple sports for as long as possible. I know countless families that decided to go all volleyball at age 10. Daughter's were great athletes. Some got burned out.....some stopped growing at 5'6" - not exactly great for a volleyball player. Not picking on volleyball. It happens in all sports. Select sports are fine....been involved in them for years. But choose select coaches that support your kids playing multiple sports. College coaches are always asking my son what other sports he plays. It helps develop a well rounded athlete and helps prevent burn out.

6. Accept mistakes - kids have to be comfortable making mistakes and they have to develop a short memory. Don't be "Coach Obvious " ....why yell at a kid for letting a ball go between his legs? Guess what...they already know they made a mistake. If you want your son/daughter to develop into a clutch player....they can't be afraid to make a mistake. My dad would get on me for not hustling or playing hard.....but never for an error, strike out or other mistake. He made mistakes and knew I would as well.

7. You'll hear this a lot.... but most of you won't follow it. 24 hour rule. When you get in the car...leave the game alone. If your child wants to talk about it...let them. But leave your advice until tomorrow. They don't want to hear it. Many of you will fail at this....and that will be one of the biggest reason your child quits sports. I'm not suggesting that you not give them advice...the best athletes usually have involved parents. Just wait a day for the advice.

8. I'll say it one more time.....play with your child outside. Time goes by fast. Get off your phone and get them off video games.

I have a beautiful yard. I take pride in it. But for years I had two bare spots in my front yard. Because I played catch with my son almost every day between the ages of 5-8. And played catch with my daughter most days as well. That is one thing I did right. It's fun, you get to spend time talking to your child....and I credit that as much as anything for both of my kids excelling in sports.

Come on coaches....please contribute. I love learning from other coaches.

And parents please ask questions.



  • orlandoorlando Posts: 2,322 ✭✭✭✭✭ Graduate

    Good stuff sir, especially number 7.

  • texdawgtexdawg Posts: 11,553 ✭✭✭✭✭ Graduate

    That means a lot coming from another "bucket dad".

    You've been around your fair share of softball.

    For those that don't know.....a "bucket dad" seems to be more common in softball...but also occurs in baseball. These are dads of pitchers. Sitting on buckets and catching your child while they are practicing or getting a pitching lesson.

  • tfk_fanboytfk_fanboy Posts: 2,821 ✭✭✭✭✭ Graduate

    coached middle school and HS wrestling, coached 5-6 year wrestling for one season (and that was enough)

    my son has competed in travel soccer, wrestling, and currently competes in BJJ. will do other sports eventually.

    I think I agree with everything you have said, especially #8. I spend as much time with my son as I can. I have another kid on the way and will do the same. Never know when my time on Earth will end. I can put my phone up to play a game of chess, listen to his new favorite song, throw the ball, or almost anything else.

    One thing I will add is I think expectations are good for kids but that most people focus on the wrong aspect. The expectation I have for my son is that he does his best. Athletics, academics, being a good person, everything. We do our best. I am more proud of a B+ he worked hard for than an A that he coasted through, a match he fought his butt off but lost than a match vs overmatched opponent he dominated. Do your best and more often than not you will have good results. Focus on your best, especially on things that are very easy, so that when you reach a level it is not easy you are prepared to handle that. Maybe that is math and maybe it next level athletics. Walk away proud of your effort, that goes for preparation (practice or studying) and the event itself (a match or a test)

    I also think that helps with doing things for enjoyment and not just to be successful at them. If the expectation is WIN then it removes joy from things that are just fun but you are not great at. Maybe it is playing the guitar or woodworking. If you enjoy it then do it, and do your best, even if you are not good at it. I find that you will have more happiness in your life with that approach.

  • orlandoorlando Posts: 2,322 ✭✭✭✭✭ Graduate

    No matter if you’re a coach or just a supportive parent, enjoy the time with your kids.... cause time flies !

  • texdawgtexdawg Posts: 11,553 ✭✭✭✭✭ Graduate

    Outstanding @Palm_City_Dawg . You have obviously been there. Great input.

  • orlandoorlando Posts: 2,322 ✭✭✭✭✭ Graduate

    Very true. I’ve also found that boys sometimes need help settling down and not get too fired up while girls are the opposite.

  • CZCashvilleDawgCZCashvilleDawg Posts: 9,360 ✭✭✭✭✭ Graduate
  • TNDawg71TNDawg71 Posts: 2,215 ✭✭✭✭✭ Graduate

    Especially at younger ages it has been my experience:

    Girls are typically very structured. It is way easier to get them into a system. More difficult to get them to understand when to go outside of the system and take chances.

    Boys are more difficult to get into a structure or system. However freelancing and taking chances is way easier.

    Girls you always have to tell them what they did well and show where they can improve. Boys you almost have to the mistakes into their heads.

  • Acrum21Acrum21 Posts: 2,439 ✭✭✭✭✭ Graduate

    I'd really emphasize #6. In my experience, kids either never try or end up quitting sports because they are afraid of failure and ridicule. I think that's one of the best aspects of sports. That it teaches you how to fail without the dire consequences. And on the flip side of that coin you can build confidence and that's probably the most addicting thing for me- to watch a kid gain confidence.

  • Gwinnett_DawgGwinnett_Dawg Posts: 160 ✭✭✭ Junior

    1. Instill the passion for playing the sport with your team... Talk about the life lessons they will take with them into adulthood... Especially during the failures.

    2. Everyone know their role. Every player cannot be the star so let the role players know what they will be measured by and pump them up when accomplish the little things.

    3. Full effort/Full Heart. Play every play with this in mind and the wins will follow.

  • pocoyopocoyo Posts: 2,567 ✭✭✭✭✭ Graduate
  • razorachillesrazorachilles Posts: 1,273 ✭✭✭✭✭ Graduate

    Potentially flirting with sexist generalization, but not without some merit directionaly.

    I always appreciated ex-USWNT Head Coach Tony DiCicco's philosphy on coachiing women: "Coach them like men, but treat them like ladies".

    God blessed me with daughters (although I really enjoyed trying for a son)...and fully admit that coaching girls is a bit different than boys.

  • JAXDAWGJAXDAWG Posts: 134 ✭✭✭✭ Senior

    Great topic! I shared some of the same experiences some of you have mentioned. I coached ages 5-15 and loved it.........some of my very best memories.

    My son is now 22 and I have heard him many times talk about what a great childhood he enjoyed. Saturdays consisted of playing whatever sport was in season in the morning. After the game we would come home and load the truck for motocross racing in the evening at the tracks around north Georgia. We often wouldn't get home until after midnight. The best part was he and I spent all day Saturday together. This allowed a lot of time for life lessons. I wouldn't take a million dollars for those times.

    I coached mostly the recreational leagues. In this league some parents seemed to consider sports as a place to drop their kid. The first year I coached I had parents forget to pick up their kid from practice or a game, so I learned to begin with the parents. In the local league the teams were re-selected every year, so each year I had a new team (no carryovers). So after team selection and before the first practice I had a parent meeting. During this meeting we discussed behavior expectations for the players and a commitment from the parents (I actually had a handout for each parent). These were simple things like punctuality, respect, and general behavior, but had nothing to do with performance. This seemed to set the tone and prevented a lot of misunderstandings. I also offered to help move the child to a different team if they did not like the expectations, but it never happened.

    I would encourage parents to get involved. Especially at very young ages you do not have to be an expert.

  • moosmoos Posts: 1,910 ✭✭✭✭✭ Graduate
    edited March 2020

    I coached one year of rec basketball for 8 year olds, when I was 18. At the time, that was the minimum age GA allowed a coach to be. The local rec league was desperate for another coach that year, so the let me do it. My parents knew the guy coaching the 7th grade team at the local middle school (he had been my rec coach at one point too,) so I helped him out with the 7th grade team and he helped me get organized for my team.

    League minimum was that each player must play at least 1 quarter. I had a parents meeting at the beginning of the first practice, and made it clear that, win or lose, every kid out there on my team was going to play at least two quarters. Did this for two reasons: 1) I figured it didn't make sense for the parents to spend all their time getting their kids to practice and games for them to ride the bench. 2) It's rec for 8 year olds. There 's no natty involved (though don't tell some of the parents that.)

    I think we crammed the full range of coaching experiences into that one year, but the best moment of the whole season was when the kid... the one you can tell that this is his first time playing organized sports ever... scored his first basket in overtime of the playoff semi-final to tie up the game. He was so happy, and the rest of the team rallied around him to congratulate him. We went on to lose that game at the buzzer in double OT, but that moment (and the others like it) made the whole season worth it.

    That experience gave me some perspective, and i think back on it as a parent with my young kids out there now. I get on them, but it's usually:

    1) Are you paying attention and listening to your coach?

    2) Are you trying and supporting your team when you're not on the field?

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