I think most people these days get into coaching children's sports out of necessity.
You are a parent. You want to have your kids participate in a sports activity and surprise, surprise, the association doesn’t have enough coaches. Voila! You are coaching your child. Most parents who have defaulted into coaching this way do the best they can under the circumstances. Some are former athletes in the sport. Others are not, but still played sports as a kid, and some just want to help. These recruited parents are then thrown into the pool of coaching education requirements, numerous skill and game clinics and the inevitable organizational paperwork. It is a tough gig, not to mention the rest of the team parents who are always keeping their eyes on you.
At the end of the day, it is a rewarding experience for most. They get to see their child develop with kids their own age, learn how to socialize, hone their competitive juices and see how they handle being coaches by mom or dad (not always the best experience, but an experience none the less). But why did it take so long for most parents to get involved with coaching? Why wait until you have children? Did you ever think about giving back to the community before parenthood? I think it should start when you are young.
Newly graduated university students who playing varsity athletics, club or intramural sports have so much to give back with coaching and so many reasons to do so. Let me explain:
Life Educating: When you coach, you learn how to manage people, communicate effectively, problem solve, organize your life, project manage, service customers, sell, run meetings, parent children and more. These skills will help you with your personal relationships, career development and future parenting skills. Not to mention the strengthening of your resume and an interview conversation starter (“I see you coach basketball. I used to play in high school”).
Community Connections: When I am speaking with new coaches (recruits if you will) for our club, I always tell them the same thing: When you coach a team, you are going to meet 12 or more sets of parents who will look after you in ways you can't imagine. Many a young coach has found their way to a career with the connections they have made with the 24+ parents of the team they coach. Parents recognize how well you are mentoring their child and will want to help you in your life as well. You are building a network that will have a long lasting impact for you!
Mentoring: I am sure that as a young person growing up you had your adolescent challenges. Maybe you were socially awkward, maybe you were bullied or were a bully yourself. Were you were a follower or a leader? What if you could help kids who are going through the same things you went through as a child and could relate to them in a way that made them feel better. Wouldn’t that be great?
I would like to share with you a recent story. Last year in our volleyball club, we brought in a bright, new, young coach. She had a successful playing resume a mile long, and while she had coached many times before, this was her first real foray into complete control of an older youth club team. Everyone was a bit skeptical at first (both athletes and parents) but she soon won them over at every level. In speaking with some of the athletes post-season, the most telling story was how the players felt about the coach, as a mentor. What impacted them the most was how she was genuinely interested in their lives, not just in the sport, but their life outside of volleyball. “She really cares about us” is what we heard over and over again. What I found interesting was that others who had coached these girls in the past also showed interest in their lives and cared deeply about them as well, but when it comes from a young adult who is only 10 odd years older, it often has more meaning than coming from someone who is an older coach or parent coach.
So take note all of you young, new potential coaches out there: You have the opportunity and (dare I say) "responsibility" to be a part of the village that raises the child and influence their lives in a positive way. It’s what we do. Be a coach!