Somebody else will do it. I don’t have any experience in that activity. It’s really a “dad thing.” Believe me, I happily sat on the sidelines while my husband coached our oldest.
Then, we had another son. I was faced with the dilemma of coaching an activity I knew nothing about or the kids wouldn’t be able to play. If I didn’t step up and coach, what was I teaching him? Surely, I could handle a bunch of four-year-olds kicking a ball around?
That season, I had a kid “camp” on the soccer field by taking off all their equipment and sitting down during practice. After a nice little chat where she had a few choice words for me, the campsite moved to the sidelines and we became best friends the rest of the season.
Coaching youth sports has taught me a lot about kids, myself and what coaches appreciate.
Here are a few tips on coaching (or supporting the coaches) of youth activities.
I grew up in rural Iowa where girls have been playing sports since the 1920s and I was no different. Somehow, changing diapers, midnight feedings and chasing toddlers made me forget about sports until my youngest needed a coach.
Coaching my sons has led to so many conversations about life. To them, it’s normal to see a mom coaching a boys’ team. If you have the time to coach and are more nervous about it than anything, don’t be! Rely on other parents to help you and trust yourself. The kids are there to have fun and you will, too.
If coaching kids is not your thing or you aren’t able to coach, there are other ways to support the leaders of your kids’ activities.
- Offer to organize: Snacks, schedules, practice times, rosters, family contact information, ride shares – ask the coach if you can help organize any of the paperwork that comes along with the activity.
- Help clean up: Support the coach by showing up 10 minutes before the end of practice and pick up whatever is laying around.
- Step in: We’ve played mostly non-profit leagues where coaches are volunteering their time. They have families, full-time jobs, and emergencies. If they send out an email saying they need someone to cover practice, step in.
- Help the other kids: Let the coach know if you’re willing to help transport kids who may not be able to get to practice consistently. If you have the means, take it a step further and let the coach know you’re willing to buy a few extra supplies if they’re needed.
- Share your superpower: Are you good at photography? Offer to take photos during a few sessions of the activity or game. Do you love the Cricut? Make fun decals for each kid. Are you just really good at keeping kids in line? Be there during the activity as an extra set of hands.
Coaching is about community building
The people who show up on your doorstep when you need them aren’t your elected officials, Instagram followers, or your favorite celebrities. They’re your family, friends, and neighbors. How do we become part of a community if we’re isolating ourselves and connecting with our devices instead of becoming involved in the things around us?
Our kids are watching how we interact with their activities and will model that when they have their own kids. By being involved in what they do, we gain so much, give back to other kids, and set the wheels in motion for our own kids to be involved in their communities when they become parents.