Sportsmanship and what makes a good coach a good coach have been topics that has come up a lot in our family recently. With my son playing Babe Ruth baseball and competitive football and my daughter playing travel softball we have really had a lot of good opportunities to talk about sportsmanship. The winning and losing part aside…sadly many of the discussions have come from having horribly behaved coaches around us.
Our coaches are amazing, but there are some people who get into coaching and forget the key ingredient of what makes a good coach: Sportsmanship.
fair and generous behavior or treatment of others, especially in a sports contest.
If you have ever google little league fights on YouTube you’ll be shocked. It’s never the kids that are fighting. It’s the coaches and parents!
Being a great coach and a horrible example of sportsmanship seems to be very popular these days. The worst examples I’ve seen is a coach yelling at a 6u player when they show up a few minutes late to practice. SERIOUSLY? These kids are 4, 5, and 6 year olds!!! The other night during our game a coach got so hotheaded and argumentative towards the other coaches that the kids on the field started looking a little scared.
This is not just something that effects the kids. It’s causing an actual umpire shortage! There are multiple cities now who have lost so many umpires that they can’t run their sports programs and have to shut down some of the sports that kids have loved playing for decades.
So the question has to be asked. What makes a good coach?
Taylor’s first softball coach which she played two seasons for was the one who made her love the game. He taught the girls the skills they needed and never forgot to make it fun. At 6, 7, and 8 years old he even went as far as to play catch with beanie babies and water balloons while sneaking in skills that they needed into the games. The one shining moment that stood out for her two seasons with him was the games that we played against a team which eventually moved to travel ball. We were up against a pitcher who was very fast and very accurate and we knew we might not hit the whole game. To balance out that disappointment he told the girls that they could play whatever position they wanted to play. It was a moment where the score didn’t matter and if someone wanted to pitch they got to pitch and if someone wanted to play first they got to play first. He told me during the game that it wasn’t going to be wasted time. If we were going to lose then the girls were at least going to get some practice at other positions.
The second group of coaches that I hold high on my list of coaches were her 11u team coaches. The coach happened to be the head umpire and his son in law was his assistant coach. The son in law happened to be a teacher and the organizational skills of both of them came out when we had basically lesson plans for each practice trying to teach the girls all the skills they’d need for that age group. He walked through sliding and the drop 3rd rule and explained about bases loaded and touching the player versus the bases in certain situations. The amount of information that my daughter took in that year was amazing!
On the football field our son’s coach was amazing teaching them the skills they needed, but also he kept an eye on the kids while they were on the field and made sure that they were treating each other nicely. I know some people will say that this is a contradiction in football being tough and nice, but it taught in a balance that left the kids going to the super bowl as 1st and 2nd graders and for the most part I think all 22 kids liked each other at the end of the season.
My criteria for a good coach is someone who wants to be competitive, but at this point with my 10 year old and my 8 year old know that they are still learning. Kids at this age, no matter how well they are coached and how well they learn, still will make mistakes, and when those mistakes are made they should be turned into a opportunity to teach them something instead of making them feel inferior for a mistake that they might not have been able to help but make.
We should all use this kind of compassion and understand in our every day lives.