In Part I - Private Coaching and Private Club Sports: What Parents Need to Know, we examined the reasoning behind signing your young athlete up at a private club for training and competition and/or hiring a private coach to improve on their abilities.
In Part II of this piece I would like take this to the next level and give some basic principles and concepts for you to draw on. The following guidelines can be of immense help in finding such a performance expert (private coach), or a private sports club.
- Seek out others (respected parents and accomplished athletes) who have used such services and ask for specific reasons why they either liked or disliked the training. Ask:
- What did they emphasize?
- What were their priorities?
- Was the training fun, stimulating, and challenging?
- Keep in mind the stated priorities of those from whom you are seeking counsel. Always keep your objectives as a central focus when evaluating information they supply.
- Ask other knowledgeable and respected coaches for references.
Make sure to inform your son's or daughter's regular team coach, if applicable, what other avenues you have chosen. Keep them in "the loop" so that they do not feel your decision to seek outside coaching is a criticism of them.
- Look for professionals and clubs that place a high priority on the overall development of the individual athlete and the team as a whole and should encompass the following:
- The fundamental and basic skills, components, and strategies of the game or sport
- Emphasis on sports-specific fitness training and injury prevention (this should include their philosophy on dealing with injuries and athletes)
- A clear-cut commitment to overall athletic development that places potential as the primary goal while appreciating the importance of developing winning ways as one of many important objectives
- Look for people who:
- Are passionate about what they do
- Demonstrate a genuine caring for the athletes under their direction
- Show a strong emphasis on the social and psychological development of their trainees and are concerned about the impact of their training on their lives both in and out of sports
- Talk more about the positive influence their training can have on the athlete and team as a whole and much less about the number of "wins" they have accumulated or the scholarships their athletes have earned
- Place the safety of their athletes very high on their list of priorities
- The sports enhancement professionals and/or clubs you are seeking should have credentials/qualifications, a reputation, and a positive track record that support their ability to deliver on their claims.
- Conduct an informal interview of candidates you are considering. Ask:
- What is their general philosophy of sports training?
- Where do they place their emphasis when working with athletes, and with teams?
- How do they make training fun, yet stimulating and challenging?
- How do they set priorities for the athletes with whom they are working?
- How they go about determining this emphasis and these priorities in working with athletes.
- What are their general feelings on establishing a line of communication between them and your child's other coaches - if any?
- Whether and/or how they evaluate the athletes they train.
- What they would ultimately like to accomplish with your child--that is, what would be their goals?"
- Look for responses to the above questions that:
- Create the fundamental development of the athlete and/or the team
- Demonstrate creativity and a certain willingness to "think outside the box"
- Encourage the development of character, integrity, sense of commitment, team selflessness, good sportsmanship, etc.
- Show that they teach and emphasize goal setting, priority setting, and a strong work ethic
- Focus on approaches that support and encourage consistency among all parties involved in your child's athletic life
- Evaluate whether there where any inconsistencies between information you gained from conversations with others (parents, athletes, and coaches) regarding the candidates and clubs you are researching and the responses other experts gave when you talked with them. Use this information to help establish the best professional for your needs.
- Determine the time commitments they will expect from your children and the cost of their services. Determine whether this fits:
- The objective that you and your child have
- Your child's goals, level of commitment, age, maturity, interest, and skill level
- Your pocketbook
- If you decide to secure these types of services, evaluate their contributions to your children's athletic and personal development regularly by assessing:
- The fundamental athletic development of your child - Has there been steady and progressive improvement?
- Your children's interest level - Has it increased or decreased?
- The physical, social, and mental demands on your child - Are they healthy, happy, and have some semblance of balance in their life?
- Improvements in your children's priority setting and time management, etc.?
- Gains in things like work ethic, sportsmanship, commitment, selflessness, respect, character and integrity?
Ultimately, your decision may come down to just a couple of factors. However, the above criteria only enhances your and your athlete's chance of making a sound and knowledgeable decision that best fits your child and the situation that exists for them.