By Greg Bach
Lawrence Hinkle has spent a lifetime coaching kids, overseeing tournaments and programs and – most important of all – impacting young lives.
In his new book – Pursuing Excellence in Youth Coaching – Hinkle shares what he has learned as a youth and high school wrestling coach and tournament director, youth football coach, college golf coach and swimming instructor through the years.
“I love teaching, I love coaching and I love helping others become better coaches,” says Hinkle. “Many of my athletes at every level of the sport have gone on to be coaches themselves. I love going to their matches and watching what they do. Coaching made me a better person because I realized early on that being a role model for my athletes was very important. I always tried my best to ‘walk the walk’ and ‘talk the talk.’”
Through his decades of being involved in sports he had the privilege of seeing some outstanding volunteer coaches, but also some who needed help – which was the impetus for writing a coaching book.
“At the youth level winning is fun, but it is not the most important component,” Hinkle says. “An emphasis on learning, good sportsmanship, good citizenship and having fun are the important ingredients for growth of the participants, as well as the program.”
Hinkle’s book tackles a variety of areas pertaining to youth sports, including: youth coaching philosophies, orientation meetings, emergency action plans, bullying, conditioning, concussions, and more.
“It is important to be a good role model for the youngsters, as well as adults, because kids will remember everything that their coaches say and do,” Hinkle says.
Taking on a volunteer coach position, regardless of the sport, is full of challenges.
Many pop up that volunteers never even had on their radar – and that can result in a frustrating experience for the coach – and an unproductive season for the kids involved.
“So many youth coaches give up and quit because they are simply overwhelmed,” Hinkle says. “I want youth coaches to understand that if they utilize the organizational tools listed in this book and have a clear understanding of all the components to being involved with a recreation youth sport program that things will fall in line and the management of such programs will take place. I want them to know that it should not just be fun for the kids, but rather all of the stakeholders.”
Hinkle thoroughly enjoyed working with kids throughout his coaching career – no matter the sport.
And he loves crossing paths with those he’s coached through the years.
“The most rewarding thing for me is when my wrestlers come up to me, even years after I coached them, and call me ‘coach,’” he says. “I love it and I appreciate it. They always greet me with respect and sometimes bring up old stories. That is what coaching is all about.”
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