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  Saturday, February 28, 2015
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Youth Sports and Your Child's Coach - Part 1 in a Series of 3
By Joe Kelly

     Recently a friend gave me an article from the Little League Baseball web site, www.littleleague.org, about communicating with and evaluating your son’s or daughter’s coach. The information provided by Little League in the article is invaluable. I am going to use much of the language in the article but in many instances, replace the words “baseball” and “Little League” with “sport” so parents of children in other sports can relate to it better. I feel the comments and questions posed in this article are important to all parents with children involved in youth sports, as well as to new parents who have yet to begin this sometimes unsteady adventure.

     I must first preface this by saying that the South Boston community is very fortunate to have individuals who donate huge amounts of time and effort to our sports programs. The dedication of these men and women to our children often gets overlooked because of our busy lives. Booking fields, ice time and courts, and coordinating game times with other communities can be a tedious task, especially for travel teams. So the next time you drive off to West Roxbury, Norwood, etc., remember the hard work of our coaches and coordinators who make these games happen.

     Your child will be considerably influenced by his or her coach, not only in learning how to play and enjoy the game, but also in physical, psychological, and social development. Because coaches are powerful role models for young athletes, coaches face tremendous challenges and considerable responsibilities.

     Coaches come from all walks of life, motivated by their love of sports and their desire to teach young people. All coaches are volunteers, most have children participating in the programs. So you should inquire about your child’s coach. Try to find out their thoughts and philosophy about the particular sport and youth sports in general. It is important that you make sure your child's coach acts in your son's or daughter’s best interest.

     The following are some of the areas and questions you may want to ask yourself or your child’s coach:

     Coaching Philosophy: Does the coach keep winning and losing in perspective, or is this person a win-at-all-costs coach? Does the coach make sure that learning sports is fun?

Motive: What are the coach's motives for coaching? Does the coach seek personal recognition at the expense of the players?

     Knowledge: Does the coach know the rules and skills of the sport? Does the coach know how to teach those skills to young people?

     Understanding: Is the coach sensitive to the emotions of the players, and not so wrapped up in his or her own emotions that the kids' feelings are forgotten? Does the coach understand the unique make-up of each child, by treating children as individuals?

     After teachers and the parents themselves, the coach may be single most influential adult in your child’s life. It is up to you to make sure that your child has a competent and caring coach. Next week we will complete what to look for in a coach and what you can do about an unsatisfactory situation.

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