Youth sports is serious business for many coaches and parents, making it demanding on the kids. It’s admirable for someone to spend their free time volunteering as a coach, but they aren’t always perfect. These are common mistakes Little League coaches make that have an adverse effect.
Sometimes, coaches can be their own worst enemy. The stubbornness of doing things their way or the highway hurts the team’s potential. Elite coaches adapt their methods, especially if they realize another approach may work better. Consider studying tapes, scouting opponents, and taking advice from more esteemed coaches.
Trying to please everyone
A valuable lesson to learn before becoming a coach is that’s it’s impossible to please everyone. Coaches need to lead by example, not by parents or players’ manipulation. Instead, explain your decisions and why it’s best for the team. Parents with their heads screwed on straight should understand that this is a team game, not just for their little ones.
Winning is the only thing
Legendary Green Bay Packers head coach Vince Lombardi said that “winning isn’t everything but wanting to win is.” When you coach professional football players, that’s an acceptable attitude for a coach. However, winning isn’t the only thing that matters in youth sports.
Seeing the kids develop their skills and love for the game is more important than the scoreboard (read more here). Teaching them how to swing a bat effectively, field groundballs, and pitch is more rewarding than a victory—and more rewarding than a video-game simulation, too. Consider buying them a good-quality baseball bat to help them perfect their skills.
Not letting players thrive
Predetermined notions about a player based on what you see and hear don’t help anyone. For example, if you played ball with a child’s parent in high school, you might assume that they can replicate their parent’s efforts. As an alternative, let their skills do the talking before you put them in a box.
The lack of effective communication is a concern, no matter the field. Being distant and dismissive doesn’t help anyone. Bad coaches tend to remove themselves from any confrontation between them and the players or parents. The primary goal of youth sports is to teach life lessons that the kids will use in their everyday life.
Using fear for discipline
Knowing how to handle challenging situations is necessary for any coach. It’s counterintuitive to lose your patience and discipline your team by having them run laps. You might have to be a counselor rather than an authoritarian.
Whether you’re considering becoming a coach yourself or a parent of a player, learning and understanding the common mistakes Little League coaches make will give you an idea of the expectations. Remember, the children’s feelings are the most vital aspect of youth sports, so put their interests ahead of yours.