Dear Youth Travel Sports Coach -
Since most of you don't have children of your own, I thought I might give you some insight.
- When my child is late for practice, it is my fault not theirs. Make me do 20 push-ups or run 5 laps. The kid is usually 30 minutes early sitting at the door while I'm jumping through hoops trying to get there.
- Purchasing a $300 technical swimsuit every few months, isn't an automatic option. Don't tell my kid that they HAVE to have it. Tell Me.
- They are children first, athletes second. When you realize that, you'll get much better performance out of them.
- Stop yelling at my kid. I send them to you to get a break from my yelling.
- Throw us a bone every once in a while. Give us some unsolicited feedback - EVERY parent wants to know how their kid is doing.
- While it may not include flights, travel to Madison, St. Louis, Iowa City... is still travel that requires a fair amount of coin. Do you think you could ask, instead of just assume, we'll go there for our kid?
- Don't think just because you don't hear too many complaints that you're the best. Sometimes you can be a real jackass, but as parents, we're afraid to say anything because we don't want to affect our child's playing time or attention.
- Only if and when my child is good and ready will they choose just one sport. Your sport is important, but so are the others. If you push her too hard, she'll quit yours first.
- Give them a carrot and a stick. If you keep just telling them what they're doing wrong, they're going to believe that all they do is wrong.
- Kids talk. When you say and do inappropriate things, they will be repeated on the car ride home.
- I understand it's hard not to play favorites, but try to make it a little less obvious to the kids and the parents.
- Please lose the "parents don't know anything and are all crazy" attitude. There are some definite whack jobs out there, but not all the parents are stupid. Last time I checked, I pay you, which the way I figure it, means you work for me.
The bottom line is, we just want our kids to be better at whatever they're competing at and have fun while doing it. My favorite thing to hear when I pick someone up from practice is "That was SO hard. I had so much fun. I loved it." I feel very fortunate to have two kids say that about two coaches every single practice, but the other coaches...
Now I realize your job isn't all that easy. I couldn't do it, that's why I don't. So obviously you deserve a certain amount of unconditional respect, but I just want to remind you it goes both ways. Not all coaches need to be reminded of all the points, and I think my kids for the most part, have some pretty special coaches. Because if they didn't, there's always another club or team that has that semi-perfect coach that we're all looking for.