What to Expect From a Youth Coach to Create A Perfect Season

Photo by: cal_gecko

Major league coaches, players and fans all want one thing—to win. But, in youth sports, it’s a little more complicated. Some parents want—and expect—to win every game while some demand plenty of playing time for their child.  The kids, though, just want to have fun, hang with their friends and be on a cool team.

How does a coach reconcile these seemingly conflicting goals? Dan Clemens, youth coach and author of A Perfect Season: A Coach’s Journey to Learning, Competing and Having Fun in Youth Baseball, believes you start with the kids.

“Kids don’t think in terms of learning life skills and gaining confidence. They want to have fun with their friends playing a sport that they’re good at,” says Clemens. “When coaches create an environment in which a kid can have fun, learn and compete, everyone wins.”

Coach Clemens breaks it down into 3 steps:

Learn—When kids understand the strategies, skills and rules of the game, it becomes fun.  Kids should learn about the game, themselves and some valuable life lessons.

Compete—Kids quickly make the connection between their own level of effort and performance and a positive outcome. They’ll thrive when they can enjoy their success and learn to accept failure. The sweet spot is where neither success nor failure is guaranteed.

Have Fun—Learning skills and sharing wins and losses with your teammates is fun.

Learning gives a sense of accomplishment. The thrill of competition leads to new learning. Rising to a challenge improves skills and fosters success. Putting it all together is fun.

“When coaches focus on these three goals, they’ll see when a kid needs a little help connecting the dots, say between effort and success, or to improve fundamental skills,” Coach Clemens says. “That’s how to create a lifelong passion in a kid. That’s what coaching is all about.”

In A Perfect Season:  A Coach’s Journey to Learning, Competing and Having Fun in Youth Baseball, Coach Dan Clemens lays out his perfect season—the kids accomplished their goals of learning, competing and having fun—through 65 personal journal entries made as he coached his 12-year-old son’s baseball team.  With humor, passion and honesty, Clemens shares moments of personal triumph, defeat, anger, fights, lessons learned and fervent editorializing on everything from sports burnout, playing multiple sports and pitch counts, to how metal bats threaten to destroy the great American pastime.

Coach Clemens encourages parents to ask a coach about his or her coaching philosophy.  “A coach has to balance the needs of 11 or 12 kids, so you won’t always get everything you want,” he says.  “But having a productive conversation about goals and expectations lays the groundwork for a good relationship for the season.”

A leadership and communications consultant, Dan has been a youth coach for nine years and maintains a website for coaches at www.CoachClemens.com. You can email him at Dan@CoachClemens.com.

Photo by cal_gecko

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