From Winning to Yelling: 5 Myths About Coaching Kids You Need to Know
Coaching kids is a rewarding experience that can positively contribute to their well-being. It can help shape their character and develop their physical abilities. However, there are certain myths that have developed over time that can hinder the coaching process. In this article, we’ll explore 5 common myths about coaching kids and dispel them one by one.
Myth 1: Winning matters most
One of the most prevalent myths about coaching kids is that winning is everything. While it’s true that winning can be satisfying, it’s not the ultimate goal of coaching kids. The real goal is to positively influence a child’s well-being and teach kids life skills like teamwork, perseverance, and sportsmanship. This can help them succeed in all aspects of their lives, not just sports. Coaches who focus solely on winning can create a toxic environment that can be detrimental to a child’s development and drive them away from sports. When youth sports coaches focus on winning, it’s usually about them, not the kids. A great coach of kids will do what’s best for a child’s well-being and development, even if it compromises short-term “wins” on the scoreboard.
Myth 2: Coaches who work kids hard are better
Another myth about coaching kids is that coaches who work kids hard are better. While it’s important to challenge kids, pushing them too hard can have negative consequences. Overworking kids can lead to burnout, injuries, and can even cause them to lose interest in the sport altogether. Coaches who understand the balance between pushing kids and keeping them safe are the ones who are truly effective. They are aware of – and can avoid – the tipping point where sport becomes no longer fun.
Always err on the side of caution when it comes to a kid’s training load. When dealing with kids, the volume and intensity of training should not be a coach’s main strategy for improving performance. Anyone can make kids tired. It is concerning when young athletes are “successful” in a sport, simply because they are “doing more” than others. It is unsustainable.
By taking a more conservative and nurturing approach and focusing on the child’s overall well-being, coaches can create a safe and enjoyable environment where children can develop a love of the sport or activity and are more likely to commit long-term.
Myth 3: Coaches who use advanced drills are better
Many coaches believe that using advanced drills is the key to success. While advanced drills can be effective in certain situations, they’re usually not necessary. In fact, using simple drills that focus on the fundamentals can be more effective.
There is not enough respect given to developing the basics in youth sports. People get impatient with the fundamentals. Unfortunately, a lot of kids are not as advanced in their skills as some people think. They lack the fundamentals.
Kids need to master the basics before they can move on to more advanced techniques. Coaches who focus on the basics and build a strong foundation are the ones who produce the best results. You can’t rush development. Coaches should coach with patience and a plan. The biggest difference between success and failure often comes from mastering the fundamentals. Good athletes perform the fundamentals well. Good coaches focus on teaching the fundamentals.
Myth 4: Specialisation matters
Another myth about coaching kids is that specialisation is the key to success. Many coaches believe that kids should focus on one sport and one sport only all year round. However, this can actually be detrimental to a child’s development. Early specialisation can result in a narrow athletic development, overtraining, overuse injuries, boredom, and burnout. Any one or a combination of these things can cause a child to drop out of the sport early, meaning that they may never find out how talented he or she may have become.
Kids who play multiple sports are exposed to different skills and experiences that can help them develop a well-rounded skill set. In fact, many professional athletes played multiple sports as kids. Coaches who encourage their athletes to try different sports are the ones who are truly looking out for their best interests. Taking a complete break from a sport to play another sport provides young athletes with a physical and mental break. It also helps athletes develop a broader range of skills and abilities, which is linked with lower injury rates and better all-round athleticism.
Myth 5: Yelling and tough love is effective coaching
Some coaches believe that yelling and tough love is an effective coaching style. They think that by being harsh and critical, they will motivate their athletes to perform better. However, this coaching style can have negative consequences. It can damage an athlete’s self-esteem and confidence, and can cause them to lose interest in the sport. Coaches who use positive reinforcement and constructive feedback are more effective in developing their athletes’ skills and confidence. Effective coaching is about creating a supportive environment that encourages athletes to work hard, improve their skills, and achieve their goals. By using positive reinforcement, constructive feedback, and empathy, coaches can help their athletes to develop confidence, self-esteem, and a love for the sport.
Coaching kids is a challenging but rewarding experience. However, coaches need to be aware of the myths that can hinder their effectiveness. By dispelling these myths and focusing on the real goals of coaching, coaches can help kids love their sports experience and develop into well-rounded individuals on and off the field.
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Darren Wensor is a sports development professional, coach educator, specialist coach of young athletes, and founder of the blog coachingyoungathletes.com. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin, or via email. Check out Coaching Young Athletes on YouTube, the Coaching Young Athletes podcast, and the Coaching Young Athletes E-Book Series.