This is our fifth in a series of articles expanding on our tip sheet: Seven Characteristics of a Character-Building Coach.
Coaches respect their role. Sports generally involve four roles: coaches, players, officials and fans. The boundaries between them should never bend. You play one role at a time. Everyone must understand their role and respect the others at all times. Here are some tips for coaches, parents, and fans:
What is the coach’s role?
1. Instructor. Keep informed on the latest fundamental principles of coaching your sport. Ask for feedback on your ability to teach these principles to your team.
2. Positive role model. Practice good sportsmanship and positive behavior. Set a good example because you are being watched every moment.
3. Motivator. Remember that athletes want to improve and in youth sports the goal is to have fun. Set realistic goals.
4. Communicator. It is the coach’s responsibility to communicate consistently with all important parts of the team, including administrators, athletes, assistant coaches, parents, other coaches, etc. Lack of communication or poor communication between the head coach and important constituencies is often the main reason for lack of success.
5. Organizer. The coach has the duty to keep everybody organized to understand the team’s goals, and each of their roles, responsibilities, and schedules.
What is the parent’s role?
Here is something that coaches can share with parents to make their coaching life easier.
Parent & Fans Do’s
1. Support the coach. Recognize that there are many styles of coaching and competing in every sport. There are often many factors to consider in coaching decisions that go beyond what is happening during the competition. Trust that the coach is doing his/her best to make the best overall decisions. Support your coach’s decisions.
2. Reinforce good sportsmanship. Behave with good sportsmanship at all times at sporting events with the both teams and opponents fans.
3. Keep it fun. Some sports require hard physical and mental training. Do everything you can to make the overall experience fun by initiating or supporting team events.
4. Maintain a positive attitude. Applaud great plays by both your and opposing teams or players. Don’t tolerate negative behavior or verbal abuse.
5. Support your athletes all of the time. Communicate after both wins and losses. Let the athlete speak if they want. Try to understand what the athlete needs or would like from you.
Parent & Fans Do Not’s
1. Talk sports all of the time with the athlete. As excited as you might be about sports, remember that most athletes want to live complete lives and do not want to talk sports 24/7. Try to find other things to talk about. Even if they do like talking about sports, it’s important for them to know that it’s healthy to have a complete, balanced life including school, family, and other interests.
2. Coach from the sidelines. Cheer only. Do not think that anybody is helping by yelling to “get back on defense” from the stands or sidelines. You are just embarrassing them or confusing them. Let the coaching staff coach.
3. Criticize either coach or athlete. See #1 and #4 above.
4. Control 100% of the athlete’s sports life. Make the athlete’s input a key part of all decisions involving sports. Every person has a mind of their own. We cannot make somebody like or dislike anything. You will need to engage them to be part of any sports decision-making, if you want them to enthusiastically support the decisions.
5. Exert any pressure to win or succeed. Often, there is little control over actual winning and losing on the day of competition. One does have control over effort, attitude, preparation, consistency and those are the types of qualities that should be reinforced and rewarded.