A Coaching Shortage? | Filling Coaches’ Emotional Tanks, Too!

Posted: February 23, 2012 in Better Health and Fitness, InFlight eNews, Training Tips
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This month, the Staunton News Leader, a newspaper in Virginia, ran an interesting story, headlined Parents driving coaches away from the game.  The story by Patrick Hite highlighted a troubling problem: talented youth sports coaches with a love of the game and a passion for teaching kids are no longer volunteering to serve.  Why?  As Covington High School science teacher and volunteer youth sports coach Rob Bennett said  in the article: “Why am I going to be miserable doing something I love to do and, for the most part, was pretty good at?”

This month, the team at Responsible Sports asks: what can we, the community of Responsible Sport Parents, do to help reverse this trend? The answer may lie in the Positive Coaching Alliance principle of the Emotional Tank.

With some parents complaining about playing time, requesting roster changes, and telling coaches how to do their jobs, while others heckle coaches and athletes from the stands, youth sports coaches from around the country are beleaguered and frustrated.  Are these the majority of youth sport parents?  We don’t think so!

But what can we – the community of Responsible Sport Parents – do to reverse this trend of volunteer youth sport coaches quitting (or worse, not even volunteering in the first place)?  We asked the experts at Positive Coaching Alliance to help us develop a quick list of things you can do to help keep coaches feeling good about their roles.

1. Meet the coach at the beginning of the season.

        Start the relationship off right by introducing yourself to the coach at the beginning of the season.  You’re not Luke’s Mom, you are Julie.  You are not Claudia’s Dad, you are Ryan.  Share with the coach why you’re excited about the upcoming season, what your child is looking forward to during the season, and reinforce that you’re committed to a great relationship with the coach.

2. Offer to help.

        It’s not an easy job!  It might look like it from the sidelines or the stands, but trust us – it’s not!  Coaches spend countless hours with practice preparation, field, ice and gym time scheduling, sending out notices, directions and calling trees, organizing equipment, and dealing with administrators and league officials.  And all of this is in addition to their regular day jobs!  Offer to lend your coach a hand – even tackling just one of these tasks will make his or her life a bit easier.

3. Fill the coach’s emotional tank during the season.

        We already know as Responsible Sport Parents, one of our jobs is to help fill our kid’s emotional tank.  (Remember: an emotional tank is like a car’s gas tank – when it’s full, a kid can go for miles.  But when it’s empty, it’s hard to go anywhere.)  But we all have emotional tanks – not just kids.  And our volunteer coaches need their emotional tanks to be full too.  Take the time to congratulate the coach on a good win.  Make a note to say something when the team executes a play that was beautifully drawn up by your coach.  Thank your coach for teaching your child a new skill and compliment him or her on helping your child acquire that new skill.  Practice the same fundamentals with your coach that you use with your athlete: truthful, specific feedback.

4. Honor and respect the relationship between your child and her coach.

        Imagine a situation at work where a colleague was unhappy with your contribution to the team presentation.  Instead of talking to you about it, your colleague complained directly to the boss.  Boy, you’d be steamed!  That’s what it feels like when a parent addresses issues with a coach before a child has taken the first – and appropriate step – to address it with the coach directly.  Empower your children to own the relationships between them and their coaches and to talk to the coach if they feel like they aren’t getting enough playing time or about their desire to play a different position.

5. Say thank you at the end of the season.

      We all know that a simple thank you goes a long way.  Sometimes we  get busy and  forget to say thank you.  But try to remember and take the time.  Shake the coaches’ hands after the last game and the last practice to say thank you.  Tell them what you were thankful for.  Let them know you appreciated all they did this season.  Consider writing a note to the coach afterward.  Or even better, a note to the league administrator praising the  coach.  Consider getting your league to use the free Season Evaluation survey tool with all of your team parents to give the coach feedback from everyone.

The saying ‘It takes a village’ is of course true for youth sports.  In order to have the life learning experience we seek for our children, we need enough players for a team, an opponent, officials and of course coaches.  If we want an outstanding youth sports experience for our children, we need to take the steps we can to help keep quality, passionate, knowledgeable coaches in the game and working with our kids.  It might not seem like a lot, but the smallest actions can help improve the situation and hopefully can help reverse the trend.

What have you done to help fill you coach’s emotional tank?  Any ideas for other Responsible Sport Parents you’d like to share?  Join us on Facebook and weigh in.  or email us at team@responsiblesports.com and we’ll share your comments with the group!

  1. The more you know the less you need to say. Jim Rohn

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