Being a great junior coach
Finals season is an exciting time for any junior club, and as a coach or a parent, it’s natural to want to see the team have success.
This time of the year can also be tricky for junior coaches, with pressure from parents, supporters and the club to perform. As a coach, it’s important to stick to your philosophies and do the best thing for the juniors – if your coaching mantra is to ‘win at all costs’, you’ve probably lost sight of what junior sport is all about.
To support junior coaches in the lead up to the finals, we’ve put together some tips for coaches to keep in mind during the club’s finals campaign, and all year round.
- Understand your club’s role in the bigger picture. Every club can have an important impact on their community. For junior sporting clubs, it’s all about nurturing the positive development of the playing group. The big wins come from teaching healthy habits, fostering friendships and giving kids the tools they need to develop into great teammates, players and people. Always keep this front of mind when making any coaching decisions.
- Stand by the club philosophies. Whether it’s a final or a friendly, a coach should always stick to their coaching philosophy. Having a clear philosophy that aligns with the club values makes it easier to make decisions for the team. And if you’re copping flak from parents or other club members, a club policy or code of conduct is a great resource to refer to. Remind members, that ‘we’re here for the club, and this is what the club stands for’; it’s hard to argue with that.
- Get real when it comes to your impact on the game. Win, lose or draw – by game day, many results are inevitable. At the junior level, the difference a coach or a parent can make once the game is in play is minimal. Have confidence in the way you have prepared your team and be a positive support on game day. Making ‘big moves’ or denying players of minutes can do more harm than good. On the other hand, showing positivity and faith in your players might make all the difference.
- Understand the importance of player development. You might think that you’re doing the whole team a favour by giving one player a permanent spot in the team, but often you’re actually doing a disservice to their potential to develop. The beauty of junior sport is the opportunity to try a variety of different positions and develop a team-first attitude. By nurturing a true breadth of skills and the right attitude in your junior players, you’re setting them up for a successful senior career.
- Learn from the losses. Learning and growing from adversity and disappointment is an important part of development. Use losses as a chance to learn; focus on the positives and remember that losing is just the nature of the game. As a junior coach, remember that your legacy is about the impact you have on the positive growth of your players – in ten years, it’s unlikely players will worry about a premiership won or lost, they’ll remember the friends they’ve made and will be better off from the lessons learned.
About Good Sports Junior
Don’t have policies in place? Not sure where to start? Consider joining our Good Sports Junior program, sponsored by nib foundation, for access to tools and resources that will support coaches, committee members and players, making your club a healthier and even more supportive place for the community.