This month, Tim Green authored a guest post for Harper Collins with his tips on coaching youth sports. To see the original article, please click here, or you can read below. For more about Tim’s life and career, please visit Tim Green’s career website.
When I first began writing middle-grade sports novels for kids, football was the natural backdrop because of my eight-year NFL career. However, after the success of Football Genius, I was asked if I could set some stories in another sport and if so, which one? At the time, I was coaching Little League baseball. Baseball is a sport I loved to watch and play as a kid. Unfortunately, my skills as a player were lacking so I chose to focus primarily on football. When my own boys began to play sports, I wanted to be as involved in their baseball teams as I was with their football teams. So, I set out to be the best baseball coach I possibly could. I’ve learned a lot and certainly had a lot to learn. Here are my five tips to help you hit it out of the park when coaching youth sports.
1. Keep the kids moving
Some people see certain sports (like baseball) as sedentary, but it’s all about anticipation and being ready to spring into action the moment you need to. So, practices should be brisk and active, with kids quickly rotating through drills. This will require some help, so make sure you’ve got some good assistant coaches, and make sure everyone is well-organized.
2. Know what you don’t know
If you’re like me and not an expert coach at a particular sport, you might be tempted to just have a practice that looks like the game. That’s not a good practice. What to do? There are hundreds of great tips on the internet for drills for any sport, which will keep you in line with tip number 1. Do your research, write them down, and make them your own. And have fun!
3. Have a plan
Anyone serious about a sports practice has a schedule they stick to. Write down the drills you’ll do, which coach will handle that drill, and how many players are involved. Then rotate players through drills so everyone gets the same reps. Also, having assistant coaches specialize in a handful of drills lets them become better at coaching the finer points.
4. Be upbeat
You can be demanding of your players — insisting on eye contact when you speak, putting forth best efforts, and focusing in drills — without being negative. It’s not that you can’t correct players when they’re wrong, but then make sure you praise them generously when they do what you ask. Even if they’re not doing exactly as you’d wish, reward effort with praise. That begets more effort and lots of smiles (for you and the kids).
5. Don’t make your own kid the star of the show
If your child is the top player, he or she will shine without your help. Let your child go last instead of first. It doesn’t have to be all the time, but be willing to show other players (and their parents) right from the start that being last in a line-or in a lineup-isn’t the end of the world.
What are some of your top tips for coaching your little one’s teams? Tell us in the comments below!
Tim Green, a former NFL football player, is the New York Times bestselling author of the Football Genius series, the Baseball Great series, Pinch Hit, Force Out, New Kid, Lost Boy, and Home Run among other great sport titles for middle-grade readers.