December 21, 2010
Tips for coaching small children by Ted Sherman
As an active grandfather, one of my greatest joys is participating in sports with my grandchildren. The girls have played soccer and softball, the boys football and baseball. I was lucky enough to coach my grandson's little league team of 8 year olds in suburban Philadelphia not too long ago. I know discipline. I participated in high school and collegiate swimming and track, and had some great coaches. I also served through two wars in the United States Navy, they had some discipline there too! After active duty I served as a Naval Reserve boot camp drill instructor, where it my my job to scream at, I mean motivate the recruits, just as you see Army drill sergeants in the movies. Its a lot different coaching 8 year boys to play baseball than it is coaching 18 year old Naval recruits on how to march in formation. But there are a lot of similarities too.
When coaching little kids, you are coaching more for fun and teaching general life lessons than you are competing to win. You always need to remember that. The lessons and experiences these kids walk away from are far more important the the victories themselves. Here are some tips from this little league coach on coaching small children:
Communicate With Parents
Meet with the parents and be clear about your goals. You are not pushing these kids to win at all cost, yet you will not take loss or failure lightly. Communicate and always seek input and assistance from the parents.
Establish a reasonable goal, maybe take the season game by game. The goal is to win the next game. That's all to think about, the next game, and what can you as a player do to be your best to make that a reality.
Set Rules and Consequences
Be clear on what time practice is what the procedure is for missing it or being late. Set rules, print them out, go over them with the kids and send them home to the parents. Always ask for input throughout the process.
Sports are about participating. Life is about living it. Although you are teaching life lessons to these little kids, one of the lessons you want to teach is to excel . Make the experience a fun one, but the goal is to live up to their potential. Practice hard, play hard, accept defeat and work on the problems that caused it.
Address Failure Directly
When you lose, go over the game with the team, identify the problems and address them. Remember too, sometimes you can play great and the other team is just better. Even when you win games, identify problem areas and address them, teaching the kids to always be analyzing and improving their activities and themselves.
Concentrate on the Individuals
Pay attention to each kid on the team. Are they developing skills, are they contributing to the team? Are they happy about playing? Again, the goal is for each player to have a rewarding, satisfying experience to remember for a lifetime, its your job as a coach to make that a reality
Check back next week for another great coaching article.