Have you ever asked your child’s coach how you can best help him or her do their job?
Last month, I shared in a video that parents and coaches have a disconnect and that communication is a must if they are to work together to give kids a positive youth sports experience. In order to encourage that connection, I’ve asked coaches to share with parents what they think is important for you to know.
This is Part 1 of a 6-part series What Your Child’s Coach Wants You to Know, sponsored by TeamSnap, a company that does its very best to give parents, coaches, and teams a tool that will facilitate clear and consistent communication.
In each installment of the 6-part series, I will be sharing what coaches from various levels of youth sports think parents need to know. Today, we focus on the first level: children, ages 3-6.
If your child is in that age group, listen to what these coaches want you to know.
“We will be Focusing on FUN”
The main goal of sports for 3 to 6-year-olds is to have fun. In the end, if they have fun, they WILL come back. Remember parents, it is just a game; it should be fun! Dan Lilya (Sled Hockey Coach)
I want kids to have fun and come back to play each year, because it helps encourage an active lifestyle. Don’t be thinking about your child becoming the next college superstar (or even high school superstar) at this age. Encourage your kids to have fun and support them regardless of performance. My favorite quote focuses on the only thing you should say after a game or practice to your child: “I love to watch you play.” I love watching kids play the game, and even after they lose, they want to go play on the playground with their friends. Brian Vandongen, soccer, flag football, and baseball
My goals for the program are to teach kids individual skills, the rules of the game, and to HAVE FUN! Brian Baxter, soccer
“We Want to Introduce Skills to Your Kids”
We focus on what the kids know and can do NOW….NOT what you want them to know or do in 10 years. If they get 2-3 new skills out of their experiences….FANTASTIC! Valeri Garcia, softball
Please have the kids on time and ready to go when practice starts. Brian Baxter, soccer
The first thing I tell parents is that a lot of times, drills and practices may look chaotic. That is the nature of working with pre-school and kindergarten age children. However, a good coach will have this be “organized chaos,” with a clear plan. A lot of drills we do at this age group are very simple, because they are still mastering basic motor learning skills and learning how to move through space. Things shouldn’t be (and can’t be) overly complex. Those types of drills will come. Brian Vandongen, soccer, flag football, and baseball
Our goal in practice is to make sure the drills are age appropriate, fun and that it is something that they will understand. Dan Lilya (sled hockey)
Play with them at home so they can practice the skills they are learning in a fun environment. Brian Baxter, soccer
“We Want You to Forget About the Score”
Relax right now about the end result of the game. We are much more interested in the player learning the fundamentals than the result on the court. For instance, I am much more excited about a child who shoots and misses with the correct form than one who can make it with terrible form. Danny Dowling, basketball
Don’t tell them what they did wrong, tell them what they did right and, even more importantly, ask how much they enjoyed it. Valeri Garcia, softball
Cheer for effort and attitude, but do not coach from the sidelines. If you really want to coach, please volunteer and coach from the field. Brian Baxter, soccer
“We Encourage You to Always Keep in Mind the Big Picture”
You are at the beginning of a wonderful and exciting journey in youth sports! Your main job is to always keep in mind the “big picture” and remember it’s the kids’ game, so be supportive but make sure the kids have some ownership in their sport. Brian Baxter, soccer
it is great that the parents are actively pursing athletics for their child at a young age. However, it is important to be involved for the right reasons. I have three goals for all programs and teams I coach: 1) the child learns something about the sport, 2) the child has a lot of fun, 3) the child wants to come back to play next year. If those goals are met, it is a successful season. Brian Vandongen, soccer, flag football, and baseball
A Youth Sports Coach Should Focus on Laying a Foundation
When your children are playing sports at this young age, your job is the easiest it will ever be as a sports parent. As Coach Danny Dowling says, “Encourage your player. Challenge him or her to keep learning about the sport. Celebrate when he or she is a great teammate.”
Those three simple directives will help your little one have fun, and just may lay a foundation of love for sports that will encourage your child to keep playing for many years.
This post was sponsored by TeamSnap, the No. 1 online sports team management application for coaches, managers and organizers to save time organizing their teams and groups.