By Brian Gotta, President of CoachDeck
You may find it interesting to examine the origins of the word, “Coach”. The word originates in England, from “coach” as in “carriage”; a vehicle that transports one from where they are now, to where they want to be. University students in 19th century England likened their instructors to carriages, “guiding” the students through their classes and exams. The word in that sense first appears in the written record in 1848. The “instructor” sense was then applied to sports trainers by 1885.
Why do people volunteer to coach youth sports? There are many different reasons – some better than others. Some do it for the love of the game and because they would like to share their knowledge with others. Some coach for more selfish reasons, because they want to make sure that their sons or daughters have as many advantages as possible. Others sign up for the first time because they see other coaches who are in so far over their heads that they’re sure anyone would be an improvement. And some people end up coaching because there are simply no other volunteers willing to take the job and they heroically “step up to the plate” and offer to give it a try.
Whether you’re coaching for one of these reasons or a combination, and regardless of how many years and at what level you’ve played the sport, you can step out on the field with confidence, because we’ve designed CoachDeck (www.coachdeck.com) to enable anyone to run professional-quality practices even if they have no experience or no time to prepare.
However, being a great coach involves more than running great drills. And just as there are different reasons to get into coaching, kids have different reasons for wanting to play. Your team may very well consist of players whose objectives are to make an all-star team, or play in high school or even college. But you may also have players with no such aspirations. They may be on your team for no other reason than that they love to wear the uniform, socialize with friends and get exercise. So going back to the origins of the word, “Coach,” if you buy into the notion that your job is to transport your players to their desired destinations, it is important to understand that they may each have different goals. Wouldn’t it be a shame if you coached them all the same way?
This means you’ve been given a great responsibility, opportunity, and privilege. It means that there will be many children to whom you will be a mentor and major influence. In many cases these kids will remember you for the rest of their lives. If any of this talk of “responsibility” makes you nervous, don’t let it. It’s mostly a lot of fun. If you stick to five basic objectives, you’ll have a lot of success. They are:
- Keep it safe
- Make it fun
- Teach fundamentals
- Be a model of respect (to officials, parents, players and other coaches)
- Instill the love of the game
That’s it. If you can keep those five goals in mind through every practice and game, you’ll have done a great job. The rewards for coaching a soccer team are many, and the more prepared you are, the better chance you’ll have of transporting all of your players exactly where they want to go.
Brian Gotta is a former professional recreational youth baseball coach and volunteer Little League coach and board member. He is President of Help Kids Play, a collection of companies whose mission is to further the development and enjoyment of youth sports.