A National Alliance for Youth Sports resource helping coaches, parents and administrators provide the best youth sports experiences for children.
Molding, guiding and connecting with EVERY player
By Greg Bach
It’s a challenge every volunteer coach faces: being able to teach skills and correct mistakes without crushing a child’s confidence or smothering their desire to participate.
“One thing you never want to do is squelch somebody’s enthusiasm or zest or love or passion they have for the activity,” says Troy Calhoun, the head football coach at the U.S. Air Force Academy. “So, coaches must make sure that they share with the participants that the teaching and instruction that is going to occur is because you care about them and you want to see them make strides and make good progress.”
Here’s what else Calhoun, who was a quarterback at Air Force during his collegiate playing days, had to say about coaching kids and impacting young lives:
Mold, Guide, Teach
“I think the biggest thing just in terms of the coach’s perspective is that you are a teacher and that’s part of molding and guiding and correcting and helping young people,” Calhoun says. “Whether that’s working a math problem in the classroom, or something on an English paper, or certainly on a court or a field, too.”
Go Fast, Go Hard
“Mistakes are going to happen, and that goes for life, too,” says Calhoun. “I think the biggest thing is that I always share with guys is go hard, go full speed and as long as your heart is in the right place we’ll be able to correct some of the things and mistakes that are made.”
Connect with EVERYONE
It’s easy for coaches to fall into the habit of directing the bulk of their attention to the better athletes on the team, but that’s a huge disservice to the other players who are there to learn – and contribute, too.
“Everybody gets coached,” Calhoun says. “Maybe in terms of game playing snaps or the amount of minutes a player is on the court in basketball or whatnot may vary from kid to kid. But the key is to make sure you acknowledge and encourage and coach each kid, especially in the practice sessions, because that’s where an awful lot of the development occurs.”
Compete Hard, Compete with Respect
“The thing that is most vital when it comes to sportsmanship is the regard and the respect that you have for your opponent,” Calhoun says. “It’s going to be spirited – you are going to go hard and you expect them to play hard, too. But those times where once a game is complete I do think there is something pretty special about sports in that you make sure as a young person you are a strong enough human being to be able to go shake their hand, regardless of the outcome; and I think there are some things in your own soul that you feel good about it when you do that, too.”
Josh Wolff starred for the U.S. soccer team at the 2000 Summer Olympics and played in two World Cups. Use his insight to build youth teams that work together and support each other.
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