5 Things to Look for in Your Child's Next Coach
So hopefully I’ve gotten the point across that training and its proper delivery can have a tremendous impact on kids and their outlook on health. Today’s post focuses on the key qualities you need to be looking for in your child’s next coach.
1) Certified from an accredited and relevant coaching or training organization
This might ruffle the feathers of some of the parents who have stepped in over the years to coach their child’s youth team. I’m not here to say you didn’t do a great job and that everyone didn’t have a lot of fun. What I’m saying is that when it comes to coaching movements at such a foundational level, where what the kids are learning has so much potential to influence their attitude towards fitness and their health as a young adult, you should be looking to someone with a demonstrated investment in their craft. This investment comes in several ways. A degree in kinesiology/exercise science/education etc. is a great start for a young coach. These programs cover the basics of proper technique, interacting with small to large groups and require field hours for course credit. But be warned, a degree is not everything. Just as every green student fresh from college realizes, real-life experience is necessary in order to truly understand what it takes. Additionally, with so much misinformation about training circulating online, there are plenty of self-proclaimed experts with little to no real-world experience.
Some baseline certifications that come to mind:
Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS)
Certified Personal Trainer (CPT)
Strength and Conditioning Coach Certified (SCCC)
2) Professional Experience
You might think I have to come off the soap box for this one. Let me be clear: No, I don’t think every child’s coach should have to have been to the League to know what they’re talking about. “Professional” implies that they have a track record. Who have they worked with before? From little league all the way up to college and elite level athletes: Who have they been around and what did they do? Ask questions! There’s little I appreciate more from a parent than a series of questions about what my plan is and why I’m doing what I’m doing. There should be no “trust me, I’m the coach”.
I believe it’s every coaches obligation to their craft, to their standards and their teams to live by the words they teach. While not every coach needs to be out running laps with their teams, coaches should be living and breathing proof of what they’re asking of the kids. This goes for physical fitness as well as life lessons. Every drill, goal-setting exercise and lesson hits home harder when they’re witnessing the work done in front of them.
It also encourages sharing experiences. Relating to kids and their struggles aids them in working out solutions. Nobody responds well to hypocrisy. If you’re child’s coach is telling your kids to eat their fruits and veggies with a bag of McDonald’s in their hand, actions speak louder than words.
4) Set Rules and Standards
Consistency is the single most important thing you can offer as a coach. Consistent positivity, combined with standards and expectations for effort and attitude are the driving force for success at every level of collaboration and teamwork. Coaches need a plan. A planned lesson, or some sort of expected outcome, gives coaches a rhythm to work off of during the lesson and keeps the group on task. It’s easy to get distracted when you’re flying by the seat of your pants thinking of workouts.
As mentioned above, youth coaches need to be organized. This not only benefits the child’s experience in each session but can benefit kid’s attitudes towards future sessions as well. This record-keeping can come in a variety of forms.
Coaches working with individual kids should have a tangible template for the child and parent to have access to. Either via app or old school paper lifting sheet (my preference), these templates serve as a visual guide to the kids and help them learn more about the work they do. Take-home material is a huge bonus when it comes to getting kids to be self-starters.
Keeping a log of your workouts and session goals offers a new resource to the parents you’re working with and shows that, as a coach, you’re putting more into these “workouts” than scribbling on the whiteboard and blowing the whistle.
Do these points bring to mind any of your coaches? Be sure to thank them for the or they do! If your current coach has room to grow (as we all do), share this page with them and start the conversation about how to better reach your kids.
As always, if you've got any comments, questions or concerns feel free to reach out via the website bowiematteson.com or via email firstname.lastname@example.org.