3 Lessons Every Young Coach Learns

Most coaches at the beginning stages of their coaching careers go through a

transitional period from playing and being “the guy” to starting over and having to work

back up again. This can be a tough transition for some and others fully embrace the

change from playing to coaching. Many coaches would argue that they learned more

their first year coaching than any other year. Young and/or beginner coaches will go

through changes and learning experiences that are generally beneficial and ultimately

help to mold them into the coaches they will eventually become. Coaching is always

changing but there are some principles in place that remain constant across all sports

and all levels. These are the three lessons that every young coach tends to learn rather

quickly as they venture into their new career.

Lesson #1: You Really Don’t Know It All

Whether you just finished playing or maybe never even played the sport you are

about to coach, you probably think you have a good understanding of the basic rules,

fundamentals, skills, etc… needed to coach your respective sport. While this is probably

true, there will be many things that you learn as a coach from other coaches that you

literally had no idea about. There will be topics of conversation that come up and you

may have no idea what the heck is being discussed, and that’s okay! Almost all

experienced coaches know that their younger coaches on staff do not know everything

and won’t know everything right away. Everybody had to start somewhere and even the

best coaches in the world had to start from scratch just like you. One of the biggest

piece of advice that a young coach can learn is this; it is perfectly okay to ask questions.

In fact, it is usually encouraged! Coaches want their staff members to be confident

about whatever it is they are teaching their players and because of this, questions are

absolutely essential for young coaches to feel comfortable coaching players directly.

One of the biggest pet peeves most coaches have about some of their young

coaches on staff is that they think they know everything when they walk in day one.

Know your role early on and ease into the staff as seamlessly as you can. Ask

questions, be open about what you know and what you don’t, and ultimately learn to be

a great listener because this will translate into making you a great teacher and coach!

Lesson #2: Different Players Learn in Different Ways

Young coaches will learn early on that all players learn better in certain

environments and certain circumstances. It is the old “carrot vs the stick” analogy.

Young coaches need to learn early on what motivates the players that they coach. Not

all players will respond or learn in the same way. Coaches have to be able to adapt to

different players and different personalities. There are always going to be “tougher”

players to gain respect from but if you learn what gets to them and what truly motivates

and moves them then you will find success in helping them reach their full potential.

A great tactic for young coaches to speed up this process is to have individual

meetings with all of the players that you will be in direct contact with throughout the

season. Set up these meetings and truly get to know your players on a personal basis.

This will allow you to create a solid base for the relationships you are about to build with

your players and it will also allow you to ask questions that will help you better

understand what kind of personalities you are about to encounter and also allow them to

ask you questions so that a trust is formed between you. Be honest with them when

answering questions and they will respect you to an even greater degree.

Lesson #3: Suck It Up: Stay the Course

The last lesson that all young coaches learn very quickly and early on in the

process is that some days you just have to suck it up. There will be days that challenge

you and truly will reveal your character. There are hard decisions that have to be made

as coaches and young coaches will continue to get better at making decisions quickly

and efficiently. There will be issues which will be time sensitive and will not allow you to

fully evaluate or research a perfect answer. Coaches learn to stay the course and just

trust their instincts. Coaches that are selfless and willing to do some of the dirty work

early on will reap the benefits of their sacrifices later on in their coaching careers. When

young coaches are asked to do tasks that they are uncomfortable with or unsure how to

do it, ask for help. Any and every new experience that is presented to you, you should

take advantage of. Coaches that can build a resume of varying experiences and skills

will succeed much greater than those who rely on a limited repertoire. On the days that

are tough, confide in your mentors and former coaches. Most of them have probably

been through a similar situation and will be able to help you through it. So just

remember, suck it up and stay the course!

Whether you are a young coach, an older coach starting a new gig, or someone who is

just thinking of becoming a coach, remember these three lessons and learn them as

quickly as you can to ensure that your career is started with your feet on the ground

running! Don’t be afraid to ask questions, get to know your players on a personal level,

and stay the course when things get tough!