Thursday, May 29, 2014

An Important Role for Your Assistant Coach

It is important that every youth head coach have a dedicated and dependable assistant coach to help at practice and on the sidelines. Having two assistant is even more desirable. It is the responsibility of the head coach to assign meaningful tasks to the assistants, as both practice and game situations are frenetic places with several things going on.
As you learn more about my coaching program you will find that I place great value in the Positive Coaching Alliance's "Double Goal Coach" strategy. One important element of the PCA philosophy is the notion of "filling player's emotional tanks." It is crucial that players feel empowered and that they feel a strong connection to the team and to the program, and that participation on the team will help develop and improve their emotional maturity and self-respect.
With this said, I would like to suggest that a head coach designate one of his/her assistant coaches as a "PCA Coach." As such, their primary role on game day, and to some extent at practice, is to keep track of the positive things that  players are doing to improve their play and the performance of the team. Having this information is important for the head coach to have when they are addressing the team, both individually and as a group. Remember, even when it is time to critique a player and point out something "negative" or in need of improvement, the coach should also have something positive to say as well. This is very important if these "teachable moments" are to have the positive impact you desire.
Players obviously need to be made aware when they are making mistakes or engaging in inappropriate behavior, but the research is pretty clear that a coach's words are more effective when they include positive words. Having an assistant responsible for tracking player performance will provide the head coach with a valuable inventory of information on the team's players. A strongly encourage all head coaches to consider having a PCA Assistant. I will share details on the PCA in subsequent posts, but the best way to learn about them is to visit their website:

Monday, May 19, 2014

Introduction to My Blog

This blog is dedicated to youth sports, focusing mainly on non-school associations such as township recreation teams and so-called "competitive travel teams. The goal is to engage in frank discussion of issues regarding the most appropriate manner for coaching young athletes and administrating the organizations responsible for preparing parents for the mission of creating an environment that is fun, safe, and educational.

We will explore the larger issues in youth sports as well, issues such as year round participation, specialization, concussions, and parental pressure. You are invited to respond and offer your own perspective, borne out of personal experience as a young athlete, a coach, parent, or member of a Board of Directors.

My personal background in youth sports is with lacrosse. I founded a youth lacrosse association, have served as a boys and girls coach, headed up a Board of Directors, and had a local leadership position with US Lacrosse, the sports governing body. In addition, I have coached at the varsity level as a head coach and spent 12 years as a lacrosse official. 

I'm going to end this initial post by asking an essential question, one that I will explore repeatedly in this blog: "What qualities do we look for in a youth coach?"