13 Lessons I've Learned Coaching Kids

By Mike Sager

1. Stop yelling. You're making the kid hate you and the sport.

2. Employ a commanding tone: firmer, stronger, and louder than normal; delivered from the gut in a military manner, but not overly stern-a fair leader who is a little demanding while calmly in control.

3. Every parent thinks their child is 50 percent better than they really are.

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4. Nobody ever gets enough playing time.

5. Do not feel surprised when your neighbors start treating you like hired help.

6. Achieve separation: Your kid is not you. You cannot do it for him. Let him create himself. Likewise your team. Try hard but be okay with the outcomes.

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7. Remember that as a parent or coach, you are playing a role. Your true emotions should not be evident to the players.

8. When you first get out on the court or field with your kid or team, make at least five supportive comments-Nice shot! Good form! Sweet stroke! Wow, you've been practicing!-before you give any instructions or corrections. Praise makes players more receptive to criticism.

9. Modeling: every minute. Every day. They're watching everything you say and do. Be the first in line to do the drills and use the exact form and demeanor you wish to teach. Set the tone.

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10. Do not be that coach who lives and dies on the sideline with each touch of the ball.

11. Do not give the kid corrective notes all the way home and for the next two days.

12. After your child goes to bed, do not fight with your wife about team politics and playing time.

13. Don't coach your kid past age ten. By then, if you've done well, he'll have the skills you hoped to teach. He's ready for a professional.

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