All high school athletes started somewhere. Their childhood days were filled with little league practice, soccer games, dance lessons, or whatever YMCA sport was in season. Behind nearly every successful athlete is a generous volunteer coach who gave his or her time to teach children a sport. If other volunteer opportunities are not appealing, the greatest way for a high school athlete to give back to his or her community is to become one of those volunteer coaches and bring up the next generation of young athletes.
Some organizations have trouble finding enough coaches to field teams. Imagine a young athlete who is looking forward to his first football season, tags already removed from new cleats and pads, but hearing the disappointing news that he has no coach. With the help of more volunteer coaches, recreational sports would not get cancelled due to a shortage of coaches. Coaching also teaches lessons to both the coach and players. Player learn the basic skills of the sport and coaches learn to be patient, caring, organized, and instructive. These lessons create stronger leadership skills that can overlap into leadership positions at school. For high school athletes, coaching can actually improve knowledge of the sport by viewing it from another perspective. If those reasons aren’t enough, spending time with kids is the most rewarding part of coaching. They say the silliest things because most kids lack a filter. Coaching will lead to some interesting and hilarious stories.
How to Coach
1. Do some research to find out if there are any restrictions.
Some recreational clubs, like YMCA, only allow students over eighteen to be a head coach of a team. Being an assistant coach is another option for students under eighteen. Prior playing experience is helpful, but simple knowledge of the game is enough at the most basic level.Once a coaching position is found, apply! There may be an online application or a registration location to sign up. It may be helpful to contact the director of the club for any questions. Be sure that the responsibility of weekly practices and games will realistically fit into your schedule before committing.
2. Once you have been assigned a team, be sure to contact all of the players’ parents to create a comfortable coach-parent relationship.
Provide them with an introduction, suggested sports gear, and schedule information by phone or email. It can be intimidating to contact parents as a high school student, but on the field or court the role is no longer student, it is coach.
3. Be sure to bring extra equipment to practice, such as another ball, a ball pump, goggles, etc. depending on what the sport is.
Extra water bottles are a good idea in case any of your players forget to bring their own bottles. A first aid kit is a must. Kids fall. Often. Having a Spongebob bandage to stop minor bleeding can save some tears.
4. Before each practice, plan the drills so the practice goes smoothly without wasting time.
Make sure the drills are entertaining and appropriate for the age group of your players. Twelve year olds may not be interested in the same games as six year olds.
5. If a player is struggling with a skill, be sure to provide them with individual attention during or after practice.
Some players learn faster than others and it is important to be accommodating to all players.
6. At games, give each player an equal amount of playing time.
There is no reason to favor one player over another. While winning is fun, it is not the ultimate goal in recreational sports.
The greatest rule of recreational coaching is to encourage players to enjoy the sport by making it as fun as possible while still teaching players the skills of the sport. The feeling a coach gets when his or her players progress over the season is indescribable. So get involved, joke around, and have fun!