Coaching youth sports – it’s about the kids, not the coach

bnbCoaching youth sports is a fun, rewarding experience.  I know firsthand from coaching baseball in the 90’s for kids ranging in age from 13 to 18.  It included players who ended up playing big time college ball, all-star games, league and state championships, and one team that might have won three games all summer.  If not for the time commitment conflicting with my boating and golfing priorities (not to mention being in my mid 20’s and single), I would have continued to coach – I really enjoyed it.

Fast-forward 15 years and Grady is starting his first coach-pitch baseball league this summer after a couple of years of tee-ball.  Two years ago, I told myself that I was not going to coach my kids’ sports.  I wanted to simply be a cheerleader and enjoy watching them play.  Sure, I would be happy to help Grady with his swing in the backyard or play catch with him until it’s too dark to see the ball.  But when it came to the team and his games, I was happy as a spectator.

Why didn’t I want to coach?  Well, that’s a complicated answer that deserves its own blog but I suppose it’s a combination of things.  I saw some poor dad-coaches throughout my years of coaching.  I also dealt with some difficult parents as a coach, and I’m told those problems are much worse today.  My dad coached my baseball teams through little league and I never could be sure if I was the starting shortstop because of my talent or because coach was my dad.

Well this year, my plans changed.  Not because my feelings changed about coaching; rather something Grady asked me last month.  “Daddy, when are you going to be our coach?  I want you to be one of the coaches.”  It immediately hit me that it wasn’t about me.  Grady wanted me to coach, wanted me to wear the coaching shirt and hat.  How do you say no to a kindergartner when he asks you that?

So I volunteered to be on the coaching staff this year.  And viewing it through Grady’s eyes instead of my own, I know that I made the right decision.

1 thought on “Coaching youth sports – it’s about the kids, not the coach

  1. Great topic. I struggle with this question, too. I’ve decided (so far) to not coach my kids’ teams because they already get some coaching from me in the backyard – and my job requirements interfere a little bit. I grew up in a small town where my dad was the coach for EVERYTHING, so his voice was the one I heard at practice, at home, during games, etc. When my boys ask for help, I help them out. We work on a little bit of everything at home when that’s what they want to do, so I decided early on (like you had mentioned) that I’d let them receive coaching from other people during their formal practice/game times. I get frustrated by some of the bad dad coaches, but I also recognize that bad coaches, like bad bosses, are a part of the experience sometimes. Maybe I’ll change my mind in the future, but for now, I’d good with being a spectator dad.
    This is a really good post – great food for thought.

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