To an untrained eye the understated work of today’s youth sports coach belies the calibre of the person required to do a successful job. They’re an individual of empathy, equipped with a finely tuned teaching mind, bundles of patience and a willingness to always put others before themselves. They’re a multi-tasker and someone whose daily decisions are determined by the answer to one question: “How can I help my athletes achieve more success?”
Despite no classrooms in sight, learning and improvement remain front and centre in the youth coach’s mind. With much less time in the game compared to their adult counterparts, the youth athlete has a lot to learn, and the responsible coach takes on this task in spades. While making sure ‘fun’ is at the core of everything that is done, the things that count most are competency, choice, connection, and fulfilment of potential. Which incidentally is not the same stuff portrayed by the media in elite sport.
As fast as the garden weeds grow in summer rain, the youth athletes’ physical body changes. In a world where height, weight and size can differ considerably among athletes of the same age, the youth coach keeps a very close eye on their athletes’ biological changes. With fast-paced growth spurts common place within short time frames, the youth coach understands the stresses these place on a developing body and carefully adjusts training loads and progress expectations accordingly.
Negotiating mood swings, interpreting communicative grunts and dealing with full circle changes of mind is just another day at the office for the youth coach. Understanding how each of their athletes ticks does wonders for the youth coach, as they know all too well that ‘what’ they have planned for the session ahead doesn’t actually matter when their athletes are not motivated in the first place to do it.
The IT Expert
The refill pad, ballpoint and clipboard are now well and truly things of the past. Whether it’s analysing real time video of their team’s performance, or tracking individual training results with the latest software, technology is a crucial part youth coaches’ armoury. With seemingly no end to the things a smart device can do to increase the effectiveness of a busy coach, ‘technophobia’ is simply not an option.
The Time Manager
Hustling from one thing to the next is a common reality for the youth coach. Whilst most of the day is spent at their ‘real’ job and morning and evenings are fully jammed packed with trainings, no respite is offered during the weekend for a lie-in as these a reserved solely for every coach’s pinnacle: game-day. With a million and one things on their plate, the youth coach has the ability to juggle many balls at once, while at the same time keeping everybody happy.