August 24, 2010
At the Youth Level - Teacher or Coach?
I have written about this before, and I believe that every player needs and deserves a teaching-coach in the early years. Each skill needs to be broken down into building blocks, where the level of difficulty can be raised as the individual grasps and possesses the skill before moving on. A coach can make a big mistake thinking that all players are capable of grasping the same lesson at the same pace as every other player. It doesn’t happen in the classroom so why would we assume the playing floor is somehow different?
One of the big problems in youth programs is that qualified teachers are rare. Often, youth team coaches try very hard to do the best they can with limited knowledge. They may have little or no playing or teaching experience. Our most skilled coaches, who could possibly be the most effective teachers, come into the picture later on in a player’s career. By then, many incorrect habits have been set and coaches don’t have the time, personnel or perhaps the desire to back up and re-teach skills.
Too often, youth coaches are not thinking beyond the current season while trying to make winners of the players he/she has now. No thought is given to the players’ development for the future. When a coach thinks like this, it is selfish and coming from pure ego. The child is not important – only the coach’s vision of success. This kind of thinking hurts the children in the program and continues to give youth sports a black eye.
In my many years of coaching and directing youth sports, I was witness to these kinds of coaches. For this reason, I joined with many other coaches, parents, youth sport administrators and understanding individuals around the world to advocate that youth sports be for the youth – not for the adults.
Show me a basketball coach, parent or program administrator who believes that youngsters under the age of 11 should use a regulation ball or regulation rim height, or who advocates pressing defenses and zone defense at a young age and I’ll show you adults out of touch with reality. They do not understand anything about child psychology and are in a program like this for their own selfish motives. These adults are ego-driven, more concerned with winning than with child/player development.
Check back next week for the continuation of this great coaching article.