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Coach the Person Not Just the Athlete

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Coaching goes so far beyond the fundamentals of the game. Youth coaches have the daunting task of not only developing players skills, but also their character. Often times at the travel ball level our coaches will be parents, which can make it difficult to find the fine line between coaching, character development, and parenting.

An amazing thing about sports is they can teach kids how to win, lose, struggle, work with others, etc. But when we enforce that sports is all about winning, kids will miss these lessons. Great coaches will push players to come out of their program being set for life after softball. For example, as athletes grow more independent from their parents they’ll take on more responsibility. This may include getting themselves to and from practice on time. A great coach will hold you accountable for being late, some parents may see this as unreasonable with the excuse that everyone makes mistakes and has bad days, which is true. However, if athletes are not held to some standards, than how will they be prepared to thrive in the “real world”.

Youth players are a whole different game. Not only are you coaching their character, but in a way you’re helping raise them. You’ll see them at their best and worst, and they’ll look to you for guidance. Some days you can be their favorite person or their daily challenge. If you can be both than you’re challenging them as a person while also building a relationship with them. You shouldn’t be their best friend, but you also shouldn’t be the reason they lose the love for the game. Hold them accountable and be there for them.

“Coach ’em hard. Hug ’em after. -Bruce Arians

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