By Brian Gotta, President of CoachDeck
Our primary mission at CoachDeck is clear. We want to create an environment that leads to more kids playing youth sports. We try to accomplish this through youth league administrators and parents, but mostly through volunteer coaches. And it might surprise you to hear us say coaches don’t need to be “great” to do good.
The average, busy volunteer coach has two limitations: They have little-to-no coaching experience and lack time. They often volunteered because no one else was willing to do it. Now, how do you turn that individual into a “great” coach? You probably can’t. They don’t have enough time to study and learn, and they haven’t got the foundation to show up at a practice unprepared and know how to be effective.
Our product is turnkey, with 52 drills that are laid out in a manner that is easy enough for a novice to understand. Each drill contains a unique, “Make it a Game” feature that turns it into a fun and exciting competition that kids love. The product can make anyone a “good’ coach. And good coaches can run great practices.
Here is the point: Young kids (ages 5-12) typically are more interested in having fun than in learning complex techniques. I remember my third son’s 10 year-old year in baseball. He was not only the best hitter on our travel team, he was a better hitter than my two older boys at that age, and they were pretty good.
Then we got a “great” new coach who specialized in hitting instruction. I remember thinking this was the best thing in the world as my son would now be elevated to an even higher level and on his way to an exceptional future. Except it didn’t work out that way.
His 11 year-old year he went into a slump and became a mediocre hitter. I am not blaming the hitting coach because it might have happened anyway. But, I suspect that what occured was this kid who previously was just going up to the plate with only one thought – to hit the ball – now had much more going through his mind about mechanics and technique. And in that split second from when the ball left the pitchers’ hands to when it hit the catchers’ mitts, the process broke down. Again, I can’t swear that is the case, but I can say that the effect of the hitting coach was not an improvement in results.
Here, all we desire for young players is for them to want to come back again and play next year. Accomplishing that is our definition of being a good coach. An “A+” means 100% of the team showed up again for registration next season. I believe so many leagues and parents are so focused on their sons and daughters getting “great” coaching, that we sometimes forget about the fun. And, often, dwindling registration numbers bear that out.
There will be plenty of time in the teen years for kids to get exceptional coaching when they are emotionally ready for it. But only if they are still playing when they reach that age. If your youngster has good coaches who try their best to make things fun and positive, if your kids still love playing and want to sign up again for the coming season, be thankful. Greatness can come, down the road.
Brian Gotta is a former youth baseball coach and volunteer Little League board member. He is the President of CoachDeck and also author of four youth sports novels and a baseball coaching book which can be found at www.booksbygotta.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org