Youth sports coaches have an opportunity to be positive life-influencers. But what happens if your child’s coach does not do that?Today’s guest post by David Grey addresses this problem.
Participating in team sports can be one of the most fun and developmental experiences a young person can have. Team work and sportsmanship encourage psychological growth. Healthy competition and communicative goal-setting lend to social advancement, and physical development promotes a healthy lifestyle.
Unfortunately, not all young athletes retain these values. The right coach will teach, motivate and challenge players while simultaneously allowing them to have fun. Inadequate coaching can prevent a young athlete from enjoying the benefits of youth sports. The following are some signs of a bad youth sports coach:
- Absence of positive reinforcement – A coach who imposes negative reinforcement, such as putting down a player after he or she misses a shot or punishing a team for the loss of a game, is likely to discourage young athletes and instill fear rather than motivation. Coach Effectiveness Training (CET) programs exist to discourage coach bullying, and to inspire “positive coaching” techniques that encourage positive reinforcement and player safety.
- Inexperience with the game- A coach who lacks the knowledge of all encompassing rules and regulations of a sport cannot successfully instill knowledge of the game in the players, limiting young athletes’ ability to play to their best ability. Although parents who volunteer to coach youth sports teams are admirable, often times inexperienced volunteer coaches do not grasp all aspects of the game.
- Exhibits favoritism- A bad coach will show signs of favoritism, typically among the most talented player on the team. Using a skilled athlete who excels on the court or field, to set a positive example for other players can be a form of responsible coaching. However, when a coach allows a “favorite” a significant amount more time in games compared to the other players, or makes the other players feel inferior to the “favorite,” tension can build among the team and athletes will generally develop poor sportsmanship and low self esteem.
- Too critical- A bad youth sports coach focuses solely on winning and fails to recognize opportunities that losses have to offer. They may even go to the extent of keeping less talented players out of games to ensure that the team wins. A good coach will not only have a commitment to the game, but a concern for each and every athlete on the team.
- Lack of attention paid to physical safety- When a coach doesn’t look out for their players’ well-being, players can easily get injured. The most common preventable injuries among youth sports are sprains, strains and concussions. Coaches can avoid such injuries by removing hazardous conditions such as marshy fields or faulty equipment, encourage proper nutrition and train athletes to stretch properly before and after practices and games.
Coaches are mentors who influence both players’ attitudes and athletic ability, and with the right coach your child can blossom. If you see any of the above warning signs of a bad coach, talk to your child and consider the possibility that he or she may need a new coach.
David Grey is a Los Angeles personal injury lawyer who also handles sports injury cases–youth, amateur & professional and has been practicing law for over 25 years.
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