Hello SOTGC community,
This past week I welcomed another year to my age. I recall waking up at 5:45 a.m. thinking I was the first one up, only to be pleasantly surprised to find one of my sons taking up residence on the couch watching television. Unable to go back to sleep, I started coffee and curled up next to him for some much needed one-on-one time.
During that time, I found myself lost in thought about all the activities my children were in throughout the year. Our daughter competes in gymnastics and practices two times a week, year round. This week she will join her two brothers on the swim team, which will last through the summer. Then, immediately after that, football starts, and school will be back in session. I guess I can rest assured they are getting some exercise and staying healthy.
Think about it, exercise comes in many forms and starts at a young age. Most notably in the form of sports such as soccer, basketball, football, track, gymnastics, swimming; the list goes on. Unfortunately, most of us are not born with the natural abilities to excel at a sport and require the much-needed guidance from a coach. In any sport, at any age, a sports team needs to have that one person to help build, shape, and guide the team through each event.
The role of a coach in youth sports is even more important. However, over the years, their role has been clouded with an expectation of “winning.” Okay, I realize if you are a member of any team, winning is the outcome you are shooting for. Trust me, I am no different! My husband refuses to play any game with me because I am “too competitive.” Ha! I am not competitive at all … well, okay, I am a little maybe … I think it is better described as “determined.”
Regarding the youth of today and playing sports, one might revert to the thought that it is not for everyone and it gets in the way of educational studies. That can be true. However, if coaches, teachers, and parents work together to set the expectation that school comes before sporting activities, the results can be very positive. There are positive correlations between athletics and academics. For example, a study conducted by the American College of Sports Medicine of 317 middle school students, found student athletes scored nearly 30 percent higher on standardized tests than those less fit. (Forbes, 2012)
Furthermore, female high school athletes are setting the bar high for their non-athletic peers. The Woman’s Sports Foundation found that female athletes are 92 percent less likely to get involved in drugs; 80 percent less likely to get pregnant; and 3 times more likely to graduate than non-athletes. What great role models for the younger female generations!
On the downside, there is a growing concern that students are dropping out of sports at an alarming rate. The National Association of Youth Sports found that 70 percent of youth athletes drop out of sports by the age of 13 (Forbes 2012). If participation on a team helps overall school performance, increase graduation rate, lower teen pregnancy and drug usage, then why are our youth quitting?
Here is the answer – Parents and Coaches are the reason youth athletes choose to stop playing in sports!
Stop for a moment and think about this. If you have attended a youth sporting event, it is inevitable that you are going to witness frustration, anger, yelling, and name calling. It is all over the news how parents attack referees for making bad calls. We see parents that stalk and threaten coaches for not playing their child, parents and coaches that push our youth to the breaking point, expecting them to perform miracles when perhaps they are giving all they have to give. And in the end it is all for one thing – to win.
It is not like that everywhere and with every team. There are many youth coaches that volunteer their time every season to coach a team about learning the fundamentals of the game. When a coach takes the time to teach the fundamentals of the game, the kids have a better understanding of the importance of each position. As with our careers, when we understand our role and how it fits into the overall goals and strategies, we feel we are better equipped to help deliver results to help the company succeed.
I have seen this in action, and I have been inspired for many years by the way one youth coach has transformed his teams over the years. This coach, who is also my husband, volunteered to coach his first basketball team while in college, nearly 25 years ago. He still volunteers his time and works with youth in and around our community. I have lost count of the number of athletes he has coached over the years, but one thing I have not forgotten are the kind words the athletes and parents alike have spoken of him.
His rules for playing on his team have remained firm:
- God first!
- Family second!
- Studies third!
- Practice … to get better
He works hard to maintain open lines of communication with his athletes and their parents. He expects the parents to lead by example and represent the team by being positive spectators. If an athlete has a poor attitude on the court or is disrespectful to a referee, opposing coaches, or players, that player will sit out. He learns the ability of each team member to know if they played to their potential or not. After each practice, he pulls the team together to share with them a story that has a life lesson they end up discussing. Lastly, after every game, he reminds the team that each game is one step closer and to remember, “We are building a house; each game gets us one step closer.”
There are many more youth coaches that are leading and inspiring our future generations. When you see a coach that is leading his or her team in a positive direction, take time to thank that coach for making a positive difference in the life of a child! Not only is it important to encourage children to have an active lifestyle, it teaches them valuable life skills beyond their sports team.
I dedicate this post to my husband, Brent Caruthers, for all the years he has given and continues to give to youth athletes and for helping them find their own self-worth and how to be a positive member of society, now and in the future. Thank you for reminding all of us that it is more important to coach to teach than to coach to win!
If this post resonated with you, thank a youth coach for giving of their time and helping shape our future generations. Give back to our future generations! Please share this article with others … Tweet, Pin or share on LinkedIn or Facebook.