5 Benefits of Coaching Youth Athletics - by Sarah Daren

From the Coach’s Clipboard Basketball Playbook
"Helping coaches coach better..."

Sarah Daren is a featured writer on the Today Show website and has been a consultant for organizations across a number of industries including athletics, health and wellness, technology and education. When she's not caring for her children or watching the New York Yankees play, Sarah enjoys practicing yoga and reading a good book on the beach.

Sarah Daren
Sarah Daren

For many people, the idea of coaching a kids' sports team can be intimidating. It's true that being an athletic coach to kids is challenging, but it's also extremely rewarding. Most coaches don't make a lot of money, but the job's benefits are far more than monetary. People don't get into coaching for the salary, but to give back and find a fulfilling career they can be proud of.

Today, with the rising rates of childhood obesity, it's even more crucial to get kids playing outside, get them away from screens, and making real connections with their peers. Currently, 30% of kids ages 2-11 are overweight or obese. Even kids that aren't overweight aren't getting enough physical activity-in 2008, just 27% of high schoolers met the US Department of Health and Human Service's physical activities participation guidelines. Team sports are a great source of physical activity for kids of all ages and promote well-being.

Adults can learn valuable things from coaching young teams, and they gain the satisfaction of giving back and helping kids. Coaches do more than just teach kids how to play sports-they often fill the role of a mentor and help their team members live healthy, happy lives. Coaches make a big impact!

Let these 5 great benefits of being a youth athletic coach inspire you to become a coach:

(1) Coaching is Fun and Empowering

What's better than watching the kid who could barely kick a ball when you started, become your team's top goal-scorer? As a coach, you get to see these kinds of transformations on a regular basis, knowing that you were a part of that transformation. It's empowering to help kids grow as individuals and as a team.

You'll gain new leadership skills as you go and help your players find their place and personalities. As an added bonus, coaching can be just plain fun when the players are having a blast on the field or court. When your team wins, you'll feel a sense of achievement and get to enjoy your players' satisfaction and confidence in their own skills.

youth coaching

(2) Personal Self Development

You'd be surprised to learn how many skills you improve as a coach. You might think that you're only helping your team improve their game and their social skills, but the truth is that you'll inevitably go through some personal self-development as well.

Being a youth coach forces you to grow and get creative. When you're working with kids, you can't lose your temper, which teaches you new methods of dealing with irritation and conflict. It's important to lead with patience and be a calm presence, even when you're angry or frustrated (working with kids, it definitely happens). You'll need to adapt and hone your ability to change your tone, learn to use good negotiation tactics, and above all, communicate.

(3) Create Lifelong Relationships

The kids you coach and help on your team won't forget the role you played in their lives. Years later, you may still be in contact with them or their parents. These valuable relationships can show you why it's so important that team sports exist-and why good coaches shape lives.

(4) Improve Your Communication

In coaching, you'll always be learning new lessons and having to adapt to the situations around you. That means working with many different types of kids-and parents. Communication is one of the most important skills in life, and coaching can help you become a better communicator through practice. As long as you're always working to be better and looking out for ways to improve, coaching a team will always teach you about more effective ways to communicate with people from all walks of life.

youth coaching

(5) Be a Mentor to the Youth

Coaches are mentors, first and foremost, and they need to remember that every moment. While it's easy to get caught up in the adrenaline of a game, a good coach has to make little decisions all the time about what the individual player needs. As a mentor, building kids up and giving them the tools they need to succeed is top priority.

Ultimately, people choose to become youth coaches because they love it. They love giving back, helping kids excel, and mentoring the next generation. Unlike so many other jobs, coaching has real meaning, and great coaches make a positive impact on every player they encounter. As a coach, the greatest reward is the personal impact you'll make on other human beings every day you're on the field.

Note from Coach Gels - thanks Sarah for the great article. Years ago, I started out as a youth coach and then some AAU and then high school coaching. I encourage good people to help coach kids. It's very rewarding and I've always said that I had as much fun as the kids. Our kids need good mentors - so just DO IT!

To help you get started as a youth basketball coach, see: Coaching Youth Basketball

Articles by Sarah Daren