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March Madness: 3 Simple Rules

March 2, 2012

It is the beginning of March and you know what that means!!!  March Madness!!!  No, no, No, not the college basketball tournament.  I am talking about the beginning of spring sports seasons for kids from pre-school through high school.  All across the U.S. and world, kids are trying out or getting ready to start playing on soccer, baseball, lacrosse, field hockey, track, volleyball and rugby teams.

Many Dads (and Moms) will be coaching their kids this spring.  Whether you are coaching or watching someone else coach your child, it is important that we have quality coaches.  So, what makes a good coach?  Here are my 3 Simple Rules for Good Coaches:

1.  Coaches interact with players in an age appropriate manner – you do not coach 7 year olds the same way you coach 12 year olds.  Younger players are much more concrete and need specific instruction that is demonstrated and direct.  Starting about age 10, players are able to more fully grasp  abstract concepts like strategy and positioning.  Elementary school students need more nurture and emotional support, than older players do.  Hugging a 14 year old boy/girl might not be the best idea, unless there are unusual circumstances.

Don’t be that guy – the coach who treat his 10 year olds like they are in high school by being unreasonably demanding and overly critical.

2  Coaches have a knowledge level of the game appropriate to the level they are coaching – if you are coaching T-Ball, you do not have to be an expert in baseball.  If you are coaching beginning soccer, World Cup experience is not necessary.  As kids get older, coaches need to know more drills, strategies and motivational techniques.

Don’t be that guy – the coach who keeps coaching through age 14, when his level of knowledge really stopped growing at age 10.  These coaches tend to be nice people, but they create frustration because of their lack of knowledge and skill.

3.  Coaches have an accurate assessment of their son/daughter’s skill level and position on the team – this is the #1 area where most coaches fail.  Many coaches consciously or unconsciously favor their own son/daughter with playing time or positioning.  The quickest way to destroy your credibility as a coach is to give your own kid special treatment.  All those great speeches you are giving on “teamwork and sacrifice” are negated, because your players/parent are thinking/whispering, “too bad that doesn’t apply to his own kid”.

Don’t be that guy – the coach who always plays his kid in the baseball infield or the soccer striker position, when they are a borderline talent.

So, there you have it, 3 Simple Rules for coaching success.  Enjoy the spring.

Patrick Donohue is a Life Coach in Oak Park, IL. Contact him for a free session at

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