What Should You Look for in a Youth Sports Coach?

By Janis Meredith | Posted 4/22/2020

It has been said that A coach will impact more young people in a year than the average person does in a lifetime.*

How can that be? In addition to the fact that youth sports coaches spend many hours each week with players, children are usually eager to please their coaches, causing them to be more easily influenced by them.

This places a big responsibility on youth sports coaches. It’s easy to dismiss the importance of coaching the younger ages and focus on getting quality coaches for the older ages. But ALL youth sports coaches should understand the magnitude of the role they’ve accepted. They are truly impacting the next generation of leaders in our society.

Stop and think about that. That’s a HUGE mandate! And for that very reason, USA Football and The Football Development Model are focusing on coach training and education.

The Football Development Model states: Coaches help to shape our children. We will continue to provide the best resources and training to coaches, so they teach your children in the most effective way for them.

As you look for the best opportunity for your child to play sports, what should you look for in a coach?

Someone who coaches the whole person. They do not just care about athlete skills and performance, but they care about the player as a whole person, including how they are doing at school, home and with peers.

Someone who sees the potential in your child. Every child has potential in something; the trick is discovering what that is. A good coach will look for something in a player and help them work on developing it.

Someone who sees growth opportunity in failure. Every athlete makes mistakes and if coaches teach them to learn from those mistakes, instead of merely punishing them for it, those kids will become better for it.

Someone who works with parents. Coaches and parents must recognize that they are the same team—they are both for the children. Coaches who seek to work with parents by listening to them and seeking mutually acceptable solutions to problems will do much more for their athletes than coaches who are dismissive of all parenting complaints.

Someone who seeks to be a better coach. My husband has been coaching high school football for 30 years and he’s still looking for ways to get better at what he does. As a parenting coach, I believe that every good coach also has a coach. If coaches think they’ve reached the pinnacle and don’t need input from anyone else, they’ve reached the point of stalemate in their learning and it will show in their coaching.

As a sports mom for 21 years to three athletes—all the way through college—I have seen my kids play for quite a variety of coaches. They differed in temperaments, coaching styles and game strategies. The biggest factor that determined their success as a coach was not how many games they won, but whether their players ended the season as better players and people than they began it.

Janis Meredith is a family life coach who wants to help all parents raise champions. You can find out more at rcfamilies.com

*Billy Graham quote


USA Football's new model for youth football is designed to make the game safer by reducing contact and by teaching the game based on an athlete's age, the skill they are learning and game type.