Athletes, Coaching, Mentor, Parent, Program Development

Someone Needs to be in Charge: Coaching Sports: Who is in Charge?

coach with kids

All athletes who participate in sports, whether it be for recreational or competitive purposes need to have the guidance and support of a coach. Many sports have multiple coaches that participate and specialize in particular elements of the sport. For example, in the sport of Golf, the athlete may have a swing coach, a putting coach, and exercise coach. Even recreational youth sports programs may have multiple coaches. Basketball, football, soccer, gymnastics, etc. will have several coaches on the field or in the gym. There should always be a head coach that is responsible for the entire program and assistant coaches that specialize in particular fields. This process can get cloudy, however. Throw in the parents and it becomes a nightmare. In this discussion, I will share my thoughts on the role of the coach and how it relates to the athlete.

In sports that have multiple coaches, there needs to be a definitive hierarchy of responsiblity. If this is not defined, the training atmosphere is sure to be chaotic with ongoing conflict. We have heard of the term “to many chef’s in the kitchen ” and it is no different in the sports industry. When this occurs, who suffers? the athletes!!

Not only is it an objective of the coaches to train the athletes so they can improve their skill level, they should create a positive and exciting environment for the students to train. This type of environment will certainly help to motivate the students to put forth a strong effort for success (The Motivation Factor). If there is conflict between the coaching staff, it will affect the atmosphere and focus of the athletes which may result in a lack of progress.

Coaches talking

The coach has a huge impact over the development of their students both physically and emotionally. Young athletes look up to their coach and seek direction from them. In many cases, the coach has a stronger impact over the student than their parents, as many athletes spend more time training in their sport than they spend at home. The coach has such a strong influence over the student that he or she will be the person who is responsible for the success or failure of the student. This is a huge responsibility and one that every coach should recognize.

There are many methods and styles of coaching and it can be a challenge for the coach to find what works best for each individual athlete. Every athlete is different and what may work great to motivate one student may not work well with another student. The challenge becomes greater when the coach is working with a group of students at one time. It would not be possible to communicate to each individual in detail during a training session. The instruction is directed to the entire group and all students must react and perform as directed. In this situation, all students need to accept the style of coaching presented to them.

Mean coach

So what style of communication should the coach use when working with students? There are many styles and each will have a different effect on each individual student. Some communicate in a stern and demanding manner, some use threats and negative consequences, while there are others who communicate with positive and constructive criticism (Coaching: The Communication Factor). I believe this last example should be the norm.

When an athlete is in an environment where there are several coaches training at once, there can often be confusion and conflict. The problem arises when different coaches are telling students different things on the same issue. For example, one coach may tell a student to run 10 laps while another tells that student to run 15 laps. This puts the student in a difficult situation. Which coach has priority in this case? It is this type of scenario that can cause a breakdown in productivity and positive environments.

Each coach participating in a program needs to have a specific set of objectives and be responsible for specific parts of training. Once defined, the coaches should not interfere in an area controlled by another coach. In the sport of gymnastics for example, there may be a coach responsible for training students on the Bars and Vault and a different coach responsible for the Floor and Balance Beam. Each will have their own set of objectives and training format for their students. This same concept applies to all sports that have multiple positions or events.

Parents on sidelines

A common problem in many sports, especially youth sports, are the parents. Of course, not only is the parent paying for their child to participate in the program, but they want their child to succeed. The problem arises when the parent takes it upon themselves to assist in the coaching of their child. There is nothing more frustrating for the coach then to have a parent try to coach their child from the sidelines (Coaching the Parents). This creates a huge disruption in the objectives the coaches are trying to achieve. It also distracts the student from focusing on what their coach is instructing. In this scenario, the student may be more concerned with what their parent is saying or thinking and ignoring what the coaches are saying.

Father yelling at coach

It is also common that a parent may approach the coach and attempt to dictate how their child should be coached. Are you kidding me?? Even if the parent has had experience in the sport, they have no business telling the coaches how to do their job. If the parent is not satisfied with how their child is being developed, it may be a good idea to terminate the participation and enroll in another program.

There are parents who may think the “grass is greener” at some other location or program and constantly moving their child. In gymnastics, we call this “gym hopping”. This only hurts the athlete and will usually slow down progress. It takes time for an athlete to thrive in an environment and gain confidence in their coaches. When students hop from program to program, this confidence is rarely accomplished.

group of coaches

It is the coaches job to train and guide the athletes along their path to succeed. The “head coach” needs to make sure all aspects of the training environment are organized. They need to perform as a team and insure the athletes are getting the best training possible. When there is a strong positive relationship among the coaching staff, the athletes will be in an environment that should produce positive results.

coaches teamwork

I would love to hear your comments on this subject. Also, if there are any subjects you would like me to cover, let me know and I will do my best to post my thoughts. Please Like and Share to all you believe will benefit from the information.

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