LETTING THEM PLAY, FAIL and LEARN
I love coaching people, love coaching kids and I recognize that I don’t own the single most correct coaching method there is. But I know what a great coach is because I’ve seen the good, bad and ugly through a decade of youth sports organizing in this national brand of ONE Sports Nation, across many sports. And I know that all coaches have the tendency to make mistakes, but great coaches can catch themselves before it impacts the game or the players.
Coaches love to teach, and its that love of teaching that sometimes causes us to insert ourselves into the game more than is necessary. Sometimes more than is acceptable. All coaches are guilty of this from time to time as are some sideline parents, but this is only because we care about the kids right?
As Coaches, sometimes we feel that if we aren’t instructing our players at every opportunity, calling all the plays or advocating for our players against the officials, then we aren’t doing our job as a coach. This often leads to over-coaching, over emotional behavior and putting players in situations where they are overloaded with information causing confusion and uncertainty in their playmaking ability.
The best coaches will resist the urge to constantly instruct the players, and allow them to find failure or success on their own in the heat of the competition. Make them think. I’ve always said that if the coach teaches good mechanics in practice and the player puts forth a best effort, the results will come.
The best coaches will observe first, take those observations and apply them when the players are not mentally and emotionally competing at heir highest level (such as practice, or halftime). The player’s need to be capable of absorbing what is being taught or better yet, demonstrated to be effective.
Sometimes a coach’s focus on winning leads to situations in which the development of their players actually is hindered by over instructing on strategies or instructions that are beyond a youth player’s ability to comprehend.
Sometimes, you just need to let the kids play.
Remember, our mission as youth sports coaches is to develop the player for the next level of competition AND keep them excited about playing sports. Keeping them excited about sports is heavily hinged on just playing the game. Raw, unadulterated enjoyment of playing the game.