4 Survival Tips For Parents Gutsy Enough To Coach Youth Sports

Love, Self

So your kid signed up for a sport ... and the team need some help.

You arrive to sign your kid up for their latest sports endeavor, and you see someone walking to you with a clipboard. The theme to Jaws begins to play.

It happens to the best of us. Parents, at one point or another you WILL have to volunteer to help out with your kids sports team at a minimum as the snack parent and at the worst, er, we mean "best," as a coach.

I played organized sports from age 7 through my senior year in college.  I have also coached various youth, junior high, high school, and travel teams since 1997. Has my personal crazy ever come out? Absolutely. 

I’ve had my fair share of inappropriate adrenaline-driven comments fly from my mouth (that I very quickly regretted). You're passionate about your kid and the sport. I get it.  But one of us wants to be "that coach."

So here's some sage advice on surviving your stint as a youth sports coach with grace and poise ... and no new enemies.

1. Write your own obituary.

Yes, this sounds SUPER morbid. However, writing your own obituary is a proven method to help you contemplate how you are currently living your life.  Write your own obituary specifically keeping in mind the lives you will touch as a coach or helper.

How do you want the kids on the team to remember you? When these kids are in their 30s, will they be excited to run into you or will you be that idiot coach who ruined their freshman year? Your actions during the heat of competition (even peewee softball) leave a deep impression.

2. Know your kids aren’t going pro.

If going to the pros is not the goal, then there is room to gain all the other benefits of competitive sports. Put some time into considering what you want the kids to take away from the season. Choose to find and enhance their strengths, build their confidence, show them the rewards of preparation, and teach them the power of goal setting.

These are skills that will help them succeed in any profession, which is the real point of getting them involved in sports!

3. Live in the now.

God has truly blessed me with a wonderful gift — a horrible episodic memory. Of course, I have “snapshot memories” of playing and coaching, but unless there is a ton of emotion behind a particular ball game, I would be hard-pressed to give you many details shortly after the final buzzer sounds. 

When you are feeling the heat of adrenaline and your personal crazy is beating on the door to get out, know that this overpowering emotion will probably not be remembered next year, next month or even tomorrow. Enjoy the moment you share with the kids — even when the referee screws up.

4. Grow thick skin.

Thick skin is important for anyone who dares to accept a position to help someone else’s child. There are times and situations that warrant the involvement of a parent and parents deserve attention. As a coach you should listen without being defensive.

To coach the kids of the rational-in-all-areas-except-their-kids parents you have got to grow some very thick skin — NOW.  You will be the enemy. Every decision you make is scrutinized and questioned.  Your intelligence will come under fire. It will be OK to openly criticize every aspect of your life because you volunteered your time to coach children.

Emotionally reacting to accusations of mistreating children will only further escalate the situation. You must know that it is not about you, it's about a parent's survival instinct for their child. Just know your kids are awesome. They're the ones playing the best right? Of course they are.