Universal method of assessing youth coaches
Recently, I was interviewed for a nationally syndicated radio program with an audience that stretches into the millions.
I was asked what I thought parents should be expecting and seeking as it relates to both the effort and abilities of their respective child's coach. In other words, how to assess said coach REGARDLESS of whether he/she is paid or volunteers and REGARDLESS of age or skill level of the participant.
Great question! In fact, I will address it in this column.
In my opinion, there are three UNIVERSALLY basic questions that need to be answered by your child each and every time he/she returns home after a game, practice or skill improvement session or activity.
It should be noted that the queries I am about to pose literally transcend sport and culture around the world.
So, here they are:
1. Is and does your young athlete appear psychologically healthier?
2. Is and does your youngster appear and feel physically stronger?
3. Does your youngster feel as if his/her skills have improved in some discernible fashion?
I contend and am confident that what I put forth above is unquestionably accurate.
Again, doesn't matter if we are speaking of soccer in Brazil, lacrosse in Green Bay or ice hockey in Trenton. You see, the fundamental responsibilities of a coach/staff are neatly wrapped within the proposed questions.
Furthermore, these are MINIMUM guidelines! So let's take a second to dig a bit deeper into each:
If a child is psychologically healthier after a workout, then that child has likely been inspired and supported by his/her coach in an engagingly positive fashion.
A “yes” answer to question #2 would support evidence that the head coach has fostered and tailored an on- or off-surface environment that keeps the children competing vigorously yet SAFELY. For example, he/she is smart, caring and aware enough to not allow a 100 pound difference between two teammates within drills that may require some physical confrontation.
Finally, if the two mandates above are fulfilled – psychological and physical improvement – then the child stands a much greater chance to have discernibly improved his/her play in some small way.
In closing, I need to emphasize that it is incumbent upon ALL parents to carefully and constantly assess their child’s experience via the questions asked above. And if the replies are not “YES, YES and YES,’ it is 100 percent appropriate to remove your youngster from that team/program. There is no such thing at the Youth level as a “binding” full-season participation contract devoid of mitigating circumstances. In other words, if the club/association is not living up to reasonable expectations because of a head coach who doesn’t care or is ill-prepared, YOU CAN LEGALLY move on. AND SHOULD.
Best of luck.
You've heard the following from me on several occasions as well, but it always bears repeating, especially in light of today's subject matter:
As a youth coach, you must unequivocally be willing to ACCEPT all the responsibility for a team’s perceived negative performance!
And, conversely, you must be 1,000 percent amenable to the notion that, when a team is recognized as having delivered a positive performance, THE CHILDREN ARE HANDED ALL OF THE credit!
I submit that if you are NOT prepared and willing to do so, YOU SHOULD NOT BE COACHING children or young adults.
Also, it is imperative that, once you assume the role of coach, you strive each day of the season to enhance your coaching knowledge. You owe it to both yourself and especially to the players to do so.
If you're not willing, then resign and make room for someone who IS.
Lubanski’s company – Wilderness Xtreme Sports – invents bold new takes on traditional sporting competition. See Paul star on YouTube in WILD GOLF: The Making of Wilderness Golf or visit www.wxsports.net.