Coaching kids is a pretty big deal. After all, you’ll be teaching them not only football, but teamwork, success, failure and life lessons all at the same time. We polled youth flag football parents on the top 12 traits they felt all youth football coaches should possess. Let us know what you think in the comments below!
Make it Fun
Most children play sports to either be with their friends, have fun, or because they enjoy the sport. If a kid is at practice for any of those reasons – they’re having fun, right? Focus on fun! Scores, results and the outcome aren’t as important at a younger age. The important thing is the kids are having fun and will want to return time after time after time to stay active and get better.
As a youth football coach, it’s your job to ensure kids are priority. You shouldn’t be coaching so you can tell your friends you coached the league winners, it should be because you’re passionate about what you do. Making it a fun, friendly and healthy environment for kids should be a top priority.
You may quickly forget they’re just kids. Shouting at them like a drill-sergeant won’t do anything but make them unhappy. Patience is key, because they’re still learning life…let alone football. Youth football should be fun and they shouldn’t feel pressured.
Discrimination is never ok. Never. Regardless of one’s race, gender, religion, ability level, disability, etc – everyone, EVERYONE is entitled to play. If you’re a true coach, you care more about ensuring every kid has a chance on the field than sticking to “the A team”, at a younger age especially. It’s important that everyone’s rotated throughout the game so everyone gets an equal opportunity to play. Remember, it’s about fun – not all about winning.
Dealing with kids, especially when it’s an active sport –like youth football— can be tiresome. It’s important you’re energetic, fit and proactive – but not just physically; but mentally, too!
By the Book
You need to be able to train, teach and coach youth football in a manner which is right. If you’re very competitive with a tendency to “cut corners” or anything else that can be deemed as misconduct – then coaching may not be for you.
Show that you Care
You need to be able to care for the squad, but not just as athletes – as people and friends, too. You should be able to speak to each parent and tell them any concerns you have; concerns you have simply because you know enough and care enough about them.
Trust and Confidence
Parents and kids should place a lot of confidence and trust in the coach. The parents need to trust you’re a good role model for the kids, and their kids need to trust you have their best interest at heart.
A child’s safety is paramount and will always be the youth flag football coach’s main priority. Every injury should be evaluated, especially head injuries, so make sure and don’t push the envelope just to get another victory if a child’s safety is of concern.
As youth flag football coaches begin working with the kids, they’ll understand it’s not all about the game and winning, but it’s also about shaping the kids to be better people. This is done by ensuring the kids know what it takes to be a good sport, why winning isn’t important and why it should be fun. They’ll be looking up to you and have a tendency to mirror your every action and reaction, so a good example is important for any youth flag football coach!
Everyone’s a Winner
Every kid needs to feel like a winner. Whether they lost by a little or lost by a lot, whether they made the big plays or dropped every pass – it doesn’t matter. A kid’s morale – especially in regards to youth flag football – is very precious. It’s important that you keep their morale high by making them aware everyone’s a winner regardless of the results!
Negative comments are remembered easier than positive comments. Youth flag football coaches need to understand that while you may need to correct a kid’s mistake, this can still be done in a positive manner. Never use bullying tactics as a motivational tool, and remember to lead by example.
My two goals are always to have the kids love football more at the end of the season than when the season started and have each kid improve. On the coaching side, adhering to the 12 traits you listed makes this an almost certainty.