Time for a pop quiz – would you rather your child played on a team where the coach calls the game or practice for weather if there is thunder audible, or keeps the children playing through rain and nearby lightning strikes? How about a coach who offers equal playing time to all players, even though their win-loss record is abysmal, or a coach who only plays the best and leaves the other children on the bench?
Do you think you can tell the difference between an OK coach and a good coach?
Here are ten qualities you can look for.
1. A good coach demonstrates his knowledge of and commitment to physical health and safety. He is experienced in CPR, has a readily-available first aid kit with him at all practices and games, and teaches the players about injury treatment and prevention.
2. He teaches and models, at all times, respectful behavior, fairness and good sportsmanship. He will not be teaching your child to respond to adversary with tantrums or cursing.
3. He demands and receives appropriate sideline behavior from parents. He ignores taunts and insults from abusive parents, and does not permit a parent to berate a player, even his own child.
4. He understands gender differences, especially on a mixed-sex team, but does not adhere to stereotypes and allows each player to play to his or her potential. He is sympathetic to an all-female team, especially young teens who tend to be quite emotional.
5. He is patient and calm, and always positive. He leaves his personal life out of the game, and does not take a bad mood out on his players.
6. He sets realistic and age-appropriate expectations for the players. He neither promises them too much, nor encourages them too little.
7. He makes both practices and games fun, emphasizing the “fun” quality versus winning. While winning is important, and everyone should strive to do their personal best, it is not the sole factor in playing team sports. Actually, studies have shown that “winning” does not even rank in the top 5 reasons when children are asked why they play team sports.
8. He adjusts his advice to suit the individual players, and is sensitive to their needs. A good coach understands that a team is made up of individual players, and that some require a great deal of attention while others do not.
9. He actively seeks out team-building opportunities, and includes every player. Such activities can include team parties, fund-raising events like car washes, and special team-only pre-game and post-game rituals, like the huddle.
A good coach is someone that a parent should feel no hesitation to approach with any questions or concerns. He should be a good listener as well as a good communicator, and should take into consideration any constructive criticism offered by a parent. He should adhere firmly to his convictions, but he should also be flexible enough to consider new ideas. And lastly, he should be an effective motivator of his players, as well as an inspiring leader. His players should look up to him and want to play their best.