Sep 12, 2016 • 4 min read
I recently had a conversation with a friend and fellow coach. I asked him if he was coaching this season, and he said, “I thought about it, but when I coached last year, I was just a warm body standing in the outfield.” My heart broke.
Perhaps the “warm body syndrome” is based on some form of the Hippocratic Oath, “Do no harm.” If the coach can show up and just get through practice without making any big mistakes or derailing the budding pro careers of our youth, all is well and no one is worse off.
The reason coaches may act this way vary greatly. Some coaches might have other things they would rather be doing; others might not feel qualified to be the leader of the team. Whatever the cause, the result of the “warm body syndrome” is the same–the kids feel that they are not important.
On the other hand, an engaged coach will help each child realize that they are special, important and loved. Teaching the perfect batting technique is not what these children need most. Their respect and admiration is not dependent on the coach’s credentials or awards. They want and need to have fun in a safe, consistent and positive environment. They need to know that their coach cares about them.
There are thousands of ways a coach can show a child that he or she cares. Here are few simple ones to try:
Volunteer youth coaches have the unique and important opportunity to show their players that adults can be helpful, caring and trustworthy. After all, there’s a good chance that the six-year-old you are coaching will be coaching his own kids one day. Be intentional and lead by good example.
Brad Jubin is a volunteer youth coach in Peachtree City, GA. Together with his family, Brad founded www.APIVEO.com. APIVEO (Always Play IV Each Other) is a free resource that leverages Brad’s personal experiences as a youth coach to help other coaches teach kids about leadership and character through a series of fun and engaging lessons.