When your child takes part in a team sport, they learn many valuable lessons that they will carry throughout their lives. In addition to these lessons, they will help them develop behaviors that they can take with them into adulthood and the workplace. Youth sports help children define their work ethic, shape their social skills, and develop their attitude toward hard work and their relationship with authority figures. In a sense, being a young athlete is their first experience with having a job. They will stand out on a team the same way you stand out in your career.
6 Easy Ways to be the Athlete that Every Coach Wants
1. Always be on time.
The most fundamental thing that any athlete can do to show that they care is to always be at the right place, at the right time, with the right equipment. It sounds like a no-brainer, but many players are still late to practice and/or have forgotten a crucial piece of their equipment. Doing this is a good way for your child to show respect for their coach. With punctuality, early is on time, and right on time is late. Your child should be the athlete that the coach never has to worry about showing up unprepared, someone that they can rely on.
If you're always having to force your child to get ready for practice, or collecting all their gear for them, then they may not be committed to that sport. It's okay to remind them sometimes, but a sizeable amount of the responsibility should be on them.
2. Have A Positive Attitude
Coaches notice athletes that are always excited to be there and have a positive attitude about practicing and playing. Players that seem disinterested in running drills or are constantly making negative comments during practice show very clearly that they don't care enough about the sport. ("ugh, why are we doing this?" "Are we done yet?")
3. Be Coachable
A coachable athlete is one that doesn't take feedback critically. They are excited about the opportunity to improve. An athlete who doesn't care about running drills because they are "good enough already" is often too cocky to coach. Most coaches prefer a decent athlete who always wants to get better than a naturally exceptional athlete who thinks he is above being a team player.
Being coachable involves following directions completely through to the end, no cutting corners. Champions don't take the easy way out. Also, emphasize that they shouldn't be afraid to ask questions. Questions are good because it means an athlete wants to learn and make sure they do the right thing.
4. Encourage Teammates
Your young athlete can show his or her maturity and team-focused mentality by openly encouraging fellow team members. Congratulating or high-fiving a teammate after a good play or scoring points is great. What is even more important is to be there for a teammate after a poor play or bad performance. When an athlete drops a pass or strikes out for the third time, they are most likely embarrassed and feeling guilty about letting their team down. It can be hard when a coach is the only voice of support for dejected players. Coaches appreciate athletes who step up and show their support for players who aren't as talented as most, or maybe just aren't performing well that day.
5. Always give 110%
This one needs little clarification. Giving your best means a heck of a lot more to a coach than how good your best is. Coaches will put in the effort for athletes who they can tell have put in the effort for themselves.
6. Have Fun!
When your young athlete is out there having a good time and genuinely enjoying practicing or playing, their enjoyment will speak for itself. There are few things that a coach enjoys more than when they can coach young athletes who truly have a passion for the sport and enjoy every aspect of the game.
Things to avoid
Sometimes what you don't do can be just as important as what you do. Doing either of these things will put your child immediately on the coach's naughty list:
1. Don't Be a Bragger or Celebrate Over-The-Top
Make sure your child lets their performance speak for itself. No one wants to hear people brag about how great they are, but everyone enjoys seeing how great someone can be.
2. Don't Talk Bad About Other Players
This is true regardless of whether it is behind their back or to their face. Talking bad about a teammate or picking on them is the fastest way to let a coach know that you don't belong on their team.
Standing out does not happen overnight; it is the cumulative effort day in and day out to be a good player, a good teammate, and a positive presence on and off the field.