The Importance of Youth’s Coaches in Sport

By: Danielle A.

I started playing organized sport at the age of 8, and I have been engaged in sports competitively and recreationally ever since. As most of us know, there are countless numbers of people that you meet throughout your sports career that have an influence on you; some of those people stay forever and become lifelong friends, others are those who you may only encounter that one time. For me, some of the most important of all the people I’ve encountered in my sports career are my coaches. For the most part, I have made strong connections with my coaches and have now realized how much they have had a positive influence on me, not only as a young woman, but also as an athlete. Because of connections I have had with various coaches I believe that they hold a high importance within the development of youth in sport.

Being the coach of any sport requires you to have a general knowledge of the sport you are coaching. For the most part, coaches who are coaching youth in sport have more knowledge and often better skills and techniques than the children they are coaching. Therefore, children often look up to their coaches and consider them to be role models. In class discussion of KIN 3093 Ethics in Kinesiology, we discussed the topic of where we develop/get our virtues from and Dr. Tymowski stated “Many people develop their virtues at young ages, often from their parents, coaches, and friends” (Dr. Tymowski, Personal Communication, Sept. 23rd, 2015). Coaches easily become role models for children. Children have delicate minds that easily pick up on things, so it is important for a coach to display good actions and speak with good intent as young eyes are always watching them. As a coach, you technically are a role model whether you desire to be or not.

Coaches are also mentors of youth. Coaches not only teach fundamental skills of a sport and how to be successful as an athlete but “there is a personal dimension of coaching that involves expanding their role to go beyond traditional, required coaching tasks and become a group of children’s mentor” (Bloom, Bush, Schinke, & Salmela, 1998). Mentors are meant to positively influence those they mentor starting by building trust. Therefore, mentors are usually dependable, engaged and authentic, which for the most part describes a typical good coach. Further within the same study, Bloom et al. explained that “athletes who had mentors as counselors, confidants, or positive roles models (like coaches) reported to have a higher degree of comfort to express emotions and commit to relationships.” So, by coaches acting as mentors and positively influencing the youth that they coach, they are setting their athletes up for good life qualities, such as expressing their emotions comfortably.

For someone to take on the role and responsibility of being a coach they must also understand there are extra titles that are attached to the title ‘Coach’. They most likely will be filling others roles to some youth such as, role models, mentors, and in some cases even a friend.

References:

Bloom, G., Bush, N., Schinke, R., Salmela, J. (1998). The importance of mentoring in the development of  coaches and athletes, The International Journal of Sport Psychology, 29, 267-281

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5 Responses to The Importance of Youth’s Coaches in Sport

  1. It is great to hear about the positive impact your coaches have had on you over the years. Personally I agree with everything you are saying and that coaches really do play a major role in positive experiences through sport. I have a number of coaches over the years and I found the worst trait a coach could have was favoritism. This affects the morale of the team when being treated differently between one another. This is a trait that negatively affects may aspects not just including sports. If a teacher is treating a student differently this can lead to depression or that individual not trying their best in school. Youth demand that asset of feeling wanted and it is important for coaches along with any adult to create an environment where this is possible.

    You also talked about coaches that go beyond their original duties to help certain participants, which made me think about my past experience regarding this assumption. I once had a coach who bought a player basketball shoes as their family did not have the money to afford a pair. Him doing this allowed for the individual to participate in the sport which helps with basic motor skills and promotes healthy living. The coach deciding to do this also created that asset of feeling wanted on the team. Seeing that there are people out there that do these types of things every day is very in lighting, and makes me think about the types of people out there.

    Great post and Happy Thanksgiving!

  2. kaylapainter12 says:

    Great to hear that all your coaches have had a positive impact on you over the years. I have also been playing sports since I was 8 years old, and I have to say that I have had some of the best coaches. There are a few coaches who stand out, but the others were definitely great role models as well growing up. Adding on to what Mitch said above, favouritism is something that can completely ruin a team. If a coach is always going to pick a certain player instead of giving other kids the opportunity, you will soon find that those kids who aren’t being picked may lose interest in the sport.

    Having a coach who knows so much about what they are teaching you is extremely beneficial for you and your teammates. The best coaches are those who show their passion in what they do and the willingness to help you be a better player. Growing up, I’ve had many of these coaches, who admire being there and who will go out of their way to do anything for their kids. Coaches like that definitely make going to practices a lot more fun and also makes the environment a lot more positive.

    Great post Danielle!

    Kayla P.

  3. lucyparkin says:

    Great post Danielle, and also really enlightening to hear about your positive experiences with coaches! I couldn’t agree more with your posts, and how you expressed that coaches often go beyond their title, and can become a mentor, role model and a friend. I have also been involved in organized sports from a young age, and some of the most influential people in my life have been my coaches, as they have an ability to see the potential that most eyes do not. Coaches are also a person in either youth, adolescents or adult life that has complete belief in you, which can really help build a welcoming and positive environment. When a coach is able to combine knowledge, passion and the ability to help their players grow as an athlete and as a person, that is when they really can become a mentor and a friend.

    In addition to Mitch and Kayla’s comments, I have also found that favouritism is the worst trait a coach can carry. It can really impact how an athlete views the sport, and can be a huge reason as to why their interest decreases. In team sports, it can really affect the team dynamics and team spirit, so it is definitely something that coaches need to be wary of. Coaches are definitely someone that youth admire, and they have the ability to create a fun, positive environment that all youth want to be a part of.

    Awesome read.
    Lucy P.

  4. chealy7 says:

    Great post Danielle! I couldn’t agree more with all of your points. I definitely agree with you that coaches do play a major role in positive experiences through sport. I can also say that some of the most important people in my life that have helped me gain self-confidence have been my coaches. I made strong connections with most of my coaches as they were all really approachable. I had the same coach for the same summer league a few years in a row and I realized he really had a positive influence me. He pushed me to be my best and told me that anything was possible.

    In addition to Mitch’s comment, about coaches going above and beyond their coaching duties to help participants, I have a similar example. My mom was the head coach at Saint Marys University for 21 seasons so I was use to hearing all about her coaching and what ways to coach. When kids came to camp in summer and she felt they didn’t have a proper shoe or something, she would see if I had any old ones or go out and find a pair of them. She still does that to this day, she’s an athletic director in Halifax and still goes out of her way to help kids participating in sport. If she needs to go pick up a pair of kicks, maybe socks or even some shorts, she would do it in a heartbeat. This allowed for all these kids to participate and enhance their learning.

    Good coaches are key to positive youth development. They help with skill building, positivity, good feedback, and increasing self-esteem.

  5. I agree with you fully on this topic Danielle. Coaches, good or bad, can really effect how a child feels about a certain sport. If a child has a bad experience in sport due to a coach they may never play that sport again and part of the coaches job is to make it fun and enjoyable for the youth, especially at a young age. I had my father as a coach for my baseball team from when I was 3 till I turned 13, he decided to step down so that I could have experiences with other coaches and because he was ready to watch the game instead of being involved, something he hadn’t done for 30 plus years (both as a player and a coach). When I played for provincial travel teams I had a coach that really cared about us as players but also got to be friends with us off the field, and I think this helped to make us as successful as we were. That same coach become my personal trainer when I turned 15 and helped me to get scouted for high school teams in Alberta, when I signed with Okotoks he was there and even made a trip out with my parents to watch me play. To this day I still see him as a friend and will work for him at his baseball academy while I am back home on PEI. If all children were able to have these experiences with coaches I think we would see more children in organized sport and less on the couch at home playing video games.

    Great post!

    Andrew Hughes

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