The Three Never Do Laws of Youth Coaching

By RonUsher | Uncategorized

Jun 19

MadCoachA buddy of mine is taking karate for the first time ever. He’s loving it and telling me how tough the workouts are. And I’m sure they are.

The other day he told me a story of what happened at the dojo and it got me thinking about good coaching (and teaching). It also got me thinking about really bad coaching and teaching.

This is what happened.

A student came in and had a conversation with the instructor. The instructor got mad and yelled at him. (This is an adult class by the way.)

As a consequence of a percieved lack of respect, the instructo told the whole class to do 100 push-ups and to be sure their knees didn’t hit the ground.

Then another student came in late. So the whole class got to do another 50 push-ups.

Does this sound like a lot of coaches you know? Have you done this? I know I did but it was a long time ago. As I matured, learned and improved in my coaching I avoided punishment and retalitory coaching.

Here are the three Laws of Coaching that were violated.

Law of Youth Coaching #1. Never lose your temper.

Do you want your athletes to lose their temper during a game? Do you want them to lose it during practice? How does a team that is yelling and screaming at each other perform. Teams need to trust each other. If the coach loses his or her temper than anyone can.

What to do instead: Take a deep breath and step back. Take five minutes if you have to.

As a substitute teacher, I encountered a lot of innappropriate behavior. I made it a vow to never get angry and yell. I wanted them to treat me with the same respect I did them. For the most part, it always worked.

Law of Youth Coaching #2. Don’t punish the team for the mistake of one

Sometimes athletes might need to be disciplined. They certainly make mistakes and need a good talking to. There’s two parts to this.

First, never discipline or single out a player in front of their teammates. Point out the good things but not the bad. Critizing bad play in front of the whole team can make the team scared and hesitant. Scared teams don’t win and they don’t have fun.

Second, punishing the whole team for the mistakes of one does not put more social pressure on the “guilty” team member. It might make it so that the other members take it out on the player. This isn’t good.

It might make it so that the team is angry at the coach. This isn’t good either.

What to do instead: Here are some ideas:

  1. Praise in public, discipline in private.
  2. Pull the athlete out of practice and have a private meeting.
  3. Ignore the behavior.
  4. Ignore the athlete for a short period of time. When my coaches weren’t yelling and talking to me, I knew I had done something bad.
  5. Use positive talk to motivate the athlete and the team.

Law of Youth Coaching #3. Don’t waste time.

In the above case, push-ups are a fine conditioner. But how important are they compared to learning a skill or technique? Probably not very.

As a coach, you only have a limited amount of time. Don’t waste it with work that isn’t focused on what needs to be done.

Sometimes I think coaches give punishment work because they have no clue on what to work on and figure that it will be at least get the team in shape.

There are other Laws of Youth Coaching that were violated as well. Perhaps I’ll go into those next week.

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