When we speak about good and bad coaches, we generally speak in terms of their competitive performance and ability to develop and maximize their players’ talents. Even at youth levels, we criticize a coach’s zone offense or timeout usage.
In the overall scheme, these competitive flaws (or strengths) are a small piece of a coach’s overall effectiveness. At its foundation, youth sports are an opportunity to motivate and inspire young people into a life of fitness by teaching them how to use their bodies and by giving them confidence to participate in group games.
On the other hand, a poor coach in this respect can lead a young person into a sedentary life.
Billy Strean, a professor in the University of Alberta’s Faculty of Physical Education and Recreation, says a negative lifelong attitude towards physical activity can be determined by either a good or a bad experience, based on the personal characteristics of the coach or instructor. For example, negative experiences may come from a teacher who has low energy, is unfair and/or someone who embarrasses students.
Youth coaches have a far greater impact on their athletes than most believe, which is why we need to help, guide and nurture those great youth coaches so they continue to make an impact on youth athletes and youth sports. Athletes develop their practice habits, learn their skills and develop a passion for sports during these years (or not). If we want to inspire young people into a life of fitness, and develop more complete players for longer competitive participation, we need more emphasis on educating, assisting and empowering youth coaches.
By Brian McCormick
Director of Coaching, Playmakers Basketball Development League