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The Soccer Sidelines

131 EpisodesProduced by David DejewskiWebsite

Join Coach Dave on the sidelines as he brings you in on what’s going on behind the scenes and the stuff that really matters in youth sports. Understand the game, development, and ways you can support your young athlete at home!


10 Ways to Be a Great Coach

There isn't a polo shirt, a certification, or a hat with a badge that make someone into a good coach. Whether you're trying your hand at coaching yourself or you're a parent looking to find a good coach for your child to follow, here are 10 things that separate good coaches from bad ones. 
Safety is a Coach's Primary Job
Before we get into any of the more nuanced or sophisticated things that make up a good coach, we have to acknowledge a youth coach's primary role. All other things can be mastered, but if we fail to provide a safe environment, we fail.

The safety envelope includes safety from sexual predation, safety from bullying, safety from environmental factors like weather or metal stakes poking up from the ground, emotional safety, and even safety from negligence. A soccer coach, for example, has a responsibility to get educated about header rules, ball sizes, concussion awareness and protocol, youth protection, first aid, and age appropriate activities. Coaches need to come prepared with parent phone numbers in their clipboard and an ability to activate emergency medial services and authorize care if a player gets hurt. Clubs should have medical treatment waivers signed and on file. Coaches should carry these in their clipboards or otherwise have them handy (like in the car). 

At no time should a coach knowingly expose a child to risk. This means not leaving them at the field alone when mom or dad is late for pickup. It means ensuring two adults are around for youth protection purposes and kids don't wander off to porta-potties or off the filed without a buddy or responsible adult who remains within visual range. 

Coaches should be required to have background investigations on file, and a minimal education in coaching fundamentals, concussions, and youth protection. And they should be expected to keep their training up to date on an annual basis. 

Clubs should be enforcing safety rules and parents should be paying attention to club policies, helping out where necessary (as in when two adults should be present) and holding coaches accountable for keeping safety at the top of their priorities. 
Care About Your Players
This one may seem obvious, but unfortunately, it's not always. First, when someone is new to coaching, there is a lot to think about. Session planning, work/life balance, how and when to use the various pieces of equipment, etc. It can be overwhelming. Coaches must remind themselves often - especially in the beginning - that they are there to support and develop players and their families. 

Caring about players means remembering to say hello when they come on the field and say goodbye when they leave. It means asking how they are doing and getting to know a little about the off-field lives they lead. It means making an effort to get to know the parents and understanding the dynamic that forged each young player's spirit. It means taking an interest in their lives. 

Caring about players means doing everything possible to make yourself the best coach you can be.It means embracing the idea that they deserve the best version of yourself. In pursuing the best version of yourself, you're giving them a powerful example to follow - so they will pursue the best version of themselves as well. I'll talk more about this later, but I can't emphasize it enough. 
Learn and Develop Faster Than Your Players
"A river rises only to the level of the lake that feeds it."

- Author Unknown

Kids are growing and evolving - usually pretty quickly. If you're with a team for a while, you need to be growing along with them. That means reading, taking courses, attending live training, finding a mentor, watching other games - generally, it means making an effort to understand the coaching craft and to become the best coach you can be. 

Kids are watching. They pay attention to the actions of the adults around them. These adults provide blueprints for living that kids try on for size.

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