Youth football coaches undoubtedly have a strong influence on their athletes. A good coach motivates, keeps their athlete’s interest in the sport alive and builds teamwork around common goals. The best coaches bring out the best in players.
USA Football, one of the premiere governing bodies in youth football, is a forerunner in promoting quality coaching and educating coaches on the responsiblities of the job.
“Youth football coaches are educators and leaders who often represent an important first point of contact for young athletes as they begin their athletic endeavors,” USA Football CEO and Executive Director Scott Hallenbeck said. “These individuals are essential to the longevity of football, building trust with players, parents, guardians and the community, ultimately teaching our young athletes right from wrong and introducing the lifelong values football has to offer.”
Jeff Hemhauser is an expert on youth football coaching. He is a contributor for Youth Football Online and USA Football. He says that there are three pivotal traits that a successful youth football coach must possess.
Coach Hemhauser mentioned that coaches must be able to plan practices, manage games and communicate with parents. When taking on a youth football coaching role, you also must communicate to them the expectations you have on the team as well as your intentions. It’s important to let them know the goals and expectations of the season. Make yourself available if they have any questions. Hemhauser said, “kids have very short attention spans, so it's absolutely critical that coaches keep practices fun, upbeat, and organized.” Hemhauser said. “When kids are standing around doing nothing, that is when they will lose focus. Coaches need to create practice plans and assure that all coaches are on the same page. When a coach isn't organized the players and even the parents will notice.”
Hemhauser stated that coaches must be able to stay calm during practices and games and can handle adversities. When you panic, they panic. On his website, he stated the importance of developing a short-term memory not only for yourself but for the kids as well. It is important for coaches and athletes to be able to move on from their mistakes. According to the extensive research cited in the book ‘How Children Succeed,’ resilience, or “grit,” is the primary predictor of a child’s ability to become a successful and satisfied adult. Coaches need to set good examples. When you have negative energy it rubs off to the other athletes.
Hemhauser said coaches must enjoy and be enthusiastic about teaching and coaching the sport. When you are passionate about coaching football, it rubs off to the young athletes. Hemhauser said, “coaches need to show that they want to be there. They have to bring energy and enthusiasm to the practice field every single night. When practices are fun, enthusiastic, and organized the kids will actually look forward to practice. The kids will feed off of the energy and body language of their coaches.”
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