Whether it’s baseball, football, field hockey, or even marching band, coaches are an influential part of your child’s life. A good coach can inspire, encourage, and teach, but a poor coach can belittle, demean, or stress a player. Here are five signs to help you decide if your student’s coach is someone deserving respect, or is doing more harm than good.
1. Your child looks forward to practice and games.
The key to knowing if your kid has a decent coach is right in front of you. Spoiler alert: It’s your kid’s attitude. Does she suddenly hate practice and games even though she always loved the sport? Is getting him out the door and to the field a hassle? Pay attention because kids may be saying a lot, even if they aren’t really saying anything. If your kid suddenly dreads going to practice, it might indicate that the coach just isn’t effective.
2. Your child repeats good things the coach says during practice.
Know how your student can’t stop talking about what his or her favorite teacher said in class today? It’s the same thing with coaches. Kids will respect (or even worship) a good coach’s opinion enough to bring it up at other times. If your kid says the coach told him she was improving in his sprints (and you notice that big ol’ smile on her face), it indicates that she trusts his coach’s opinion.
3. The coach teaches the kids about more than just sports
The thing about sports is that they’re not just about learning how to run drills or dribble a ball. Life lessons should be a big takeaway. Kids should be learning how to be a team player and how to lose gracefully. They should learn how to make friends and how to work with people they don’t like. They should learn how to take direction and see that success comes with hard work. These are lessons that will stay with them for the rest of their lives.
Let’s be real, the chances of your kid going pro probably aren’t great. But the chances of becoming a decent, hardworking human being increase exponentially with a coach who teaches tenacity, courage, and a love for trying new things.
4. You see improvement in your child’s athletic ability.
While the life lessons are incredibly important, kids should also be improving at the particular sport and building up a skill set. A good coach will be able to identify the strengths and weaknesses of each of player and work to improve the skills that need improving and sharpen skills that are already decent.
As the season moves along, make sure your child is gaining new skills and showing improvement where he or she previously struggled. This indicates a coach who is paying attention to the individual needs of all players instead of just focusing on a chosen few.
5. You like what you hear from the coach.
Look, nobody likes to be yelled at all the time, not even kids. It’s important to watch how the coach communicates — whether it’s during a practice or during a finals round. That doesn’t mean there won’t be any yelling or disciplinary action, but it should be done in a constructive and fair way. Coaches have the potential to inflict some real emotional damage. If a coach is yelling to pass the ball to a distracted player, that’s one thing, but if there’s name-calling, that’s not a good sign.
Coaches should be role models. They should demonstrate the attitude and effort they expect from their players. They should listen to their players and remember that this isn’t the Super Bowl. And, as a parent, it is important to ensure your child is learning from a positive mentor.