As players throughout the country begin to train and play games in their respective spring sports, three ideas should be front and center for all coaches and parents (and one of them is not winning). These ideas are transformational youth sport truths and if established on your team or with your group at any level, success as you define it will follow.
- Is the athlete having fun?
- Having fun on the athletic field leads to players that want to play and participate more often. This concept of fun also leads to developing a passion for the activity. The athlete that wants to be around the game during their own time, envisions training as an opportunity and not a hardship, and provides a daily spark for teammates; is the type of player we want. As coaches, we can assist in this process through fun, exciting, and challenging training sessions and game experiences. Fielding a ground ball in baseball over and over again can become rather monotonous. The coaches that get the most out of their players find ways to master the basics in fun and exciting ways. Specifically, the coach will use their imagination to create a game (fun) that motivates and inspires the player while they field ground ball after ground ball. The encouraging carrot always dominates the punishment stick.
- Is the athlete learning?
- Learning happens in training and games, when winning and losing, and often times when least expected. The obvious learning experience happens on the field through technical and tactical practices. Repeating a skill or game strategy until proficient is the standard process for learning. The coach that can add an element of fun or challenge to the repetition will be the coach that sees the most player development. Learning also happens when coaches intentionally focus on topics that are developed off the field but lead to immediate and long term development such as mental training, group cohesion, character development, and working towards a goal. These types of concepts are not accidentally taught through sport, but when the coach intentionally focuses on developing a meaningful curriculum featuring off field development, real lifetime learning happens.
- Is the correct environment for fun and learning taking place?
- The focus here is on the behavior of the coaches, parents, friends, and family members. In order to create an environment of success, intentional positive interaction must take place between all influential parties associated with the athlete. Intentional positive interaction encourages the participant to pursue success without the fear of failure. Within this type of culture, the athlete is rewarded when attempting new skills and ideas in training and game situations independent of the result. Mistakes are seen as stepping stones to achievement. Parents, provide unconditional love cheering on all teammates and telling the player after the game “I love watching you play” as opposed to providing constructive criticisms. Coaches employing intentional positive interaction build personal relationships with athletes and their families. These relationships create teachable moments in which development and growth happens. The strength of the relationship is the basic building block that allows the coach to have the full attention and trust of each team member. Players within this type of environment have an increased opportunity to fall in love with athletics and find lifetime health and fitness.
Is your child or the participants you coach having fun, learning, and placed within an environment that these two items are continually fostered? Create a significant experience in the life of the athletes you work with by promoting the three transformational youth sport truths: FUN, LEARNING, and SUCCESSFUL ENVIRONMENT DEVELOPMENT.
Empowering athletes, families, coaches, and organizations to create opportunities for lifetime success,
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