Great feedback about coach appreciation

We received some great feedback from one of our clients regarding our article, Make Them Feel Appreciated. The President of a soccer club which has been a long-time client of ours had this to add:

With over 25 years of coaching many sports and administrating a soccer club, here is some current info we do plus some observations:

* All coaches get a coach shirt each season and every few years a coach wind-shirt or jacket with club logo patch and “Coach” above the patch.

* At the end of the fall season each team has a pizza party or other event where the coach usually gets a small token gift of appreciation.

* We offer preseason clinics and division directors are in constant communication with coaches throughout the season. I make the rounds throughout the spring and fall season watching practices and games and checking in with the coaches and always thank them for coaching.

* Once we have a person on board to coach, they usually stay until their kid is finished with rec soccer. Unfortunately this often results in the early loss of coaches when their child moves to travel soccer.

* The millennial generation is pretty much detached from involvement. I am doing winter indoor now for our rec kids and most parents are looking at their smart phones throughout the session. Most would rather write a check than do coaching. Some of these people have an attitude of entitlement, too. Fortunately I have a great group of high school players that train the kids so adults are not needed to actually coach the kids. While some of our divisions get enough coaches, we struggle in others; it varies from season to season.

Thanks for the great input. If you are a league administrator or parent or coach and have other suggestions, send them to us at info@coachdeck.com.

Make them Feel Appreciated

By Brian Gotta, President of CoachDeck

In any relationship – marriage, employee/employer, coach to player – we know the personal dynamic suffers if either party is made to feel unappreciated or neglected. So why do so many leagues virtually ignore their volunteer coaches, and then complain each season that it is difficult to get anyone to be a coach? Here are some tips to make your coaches feel appreciated.

All too often we, as league administrators, have so much to do that once we get people in place to coach our league’s teams we think, “That’s done. I can move on to the next job.” But meanwhile, unless we hear complaints, we don’t give another thought to these coaches who are out there working for free every week. What if we created a “Coach Appreciation Committee” that focused all season on making sure coaches had the support and encouragement they needed?

Communicate with them
What are some things we could do to show we care:? How about an easy one for starters: Periodically during the season send an email to your coaches. Ask them, “What can I do for you?” or “Is there any help you need?” Maybe they’ll tell you about an equipment issue they’ve just been putting up with. Perhaps there is a parent who shows up late each practice, forcing the coach to wait around. There could be many small things your coaches won’t bother mentioning, but that annoy them. Imagine if you could fix some of those issues to make their jobs easier. And, even if they don’t request any help, which will usually be the case, everyone likes to be asked.

Pick up the phone throughout the year and call them just to see how they’re doing. You’ll be surprised how much mileage you get with this simple touch. Plus, as a board member, you’ll gain invaluable feedback about the inner-workings of your league.

Communicate with parents
Send an email to all parents with a message such as: “Please be sure to help your coach at practice. If you can’t help at practice then please offer to help in some other way. Get involved with field prep or breakdown. Offer to bring snacks to games. Organize a post-season team party and coaches gift.” Encourage them to simply thank the coach after each game and practice. Get parents to realize that there is something they can contribute even if they aren’t directly involved with the team.

Thank them in person
League officials can swing by a game or practice every now and then and tell the coaches they did a great job and thank them. Point out something positive that was observed. Tell the parents in the stands that the coaches are doing a great job. This goes a long way when it comes from a third-party and a board member.

End of the year volunteer reception
Lots of leagues do this but if you don’t, you may want to consider it. This doesn’t have to be an elaborate soiree, just burgers and sodas at the park would do. But letting the coach and a guest have a nice meal, “on the league” will sure go a long way towards rewarding the season’s hard work and even soothing any frustration that may have accumulated.

Do you have other ideas? What are some things you do in your league to make your coaches feel special, (besides give them a CoachDeck, of course!). Send us your suggestions to info@coachdeck.com. We’d love to hear from you. Have a great 2017 season!

Brian Gotta is a former professional youth baseball coach and current volunteer Little League coach and board member. He is the President of CoachDeck and also author of four youth sports novels which can be found at www.booksbygotta.com. He can be reached at brian@coachdeck.com

Three Things That May Hurt Your Kids’ Confidence

By Craig Sigl

If you truly want to give your kids a boost to success, the first thing you need to do is stop doing these three things that hurt your kids’ confidence so let’s get right to it with #1.

1. Giving your kid encouragement, praise and cheers ONLY when they do well out there.

Most of us adults have forgotten what it’s like to be a kid. If I didn’t see them for years now, I would have too. Here’s what you need to understand:

When the young performer does well, and you cheer and praise you are giving your approval of what they have just done.

When the kid does not do well, and looks over at the bench at you, and sees your disappointed face and body posture, the child gets the message of Disapproval.

As sports fans and audiences, we are conditioned to cheer when things go right and go “Awww” when they go wrong for our team. Now, this is totally fine when you’re watching your favorite pro sports team. Those players are not your children and they can take it. But not your kids. They subconsciously take it, literally, as a form of rejection, and there’s nothing worse for a kid than getting that from their parent.

What you need to do is be passionately positive even when nothing exciting is happening…but especially when the child has a poor performance of any kind. You do not want your child coming away from a game, meet or match with the idea that your approval is dependent on their performance.

You may just be showing your disappointment in empathy for them but that’s not how they are taking it. This is a huge confidence killer.

2. Telling your kid how they could have done better on the car ride home.

Or otherwise giving unsolicited advice at any time right after a poor performance or a loss. Most often, the best thing you can do as a sports parent, is nothing.

If you ever watch little kids play in the sandbox together and one of them upsets the other, there’s crying and finger pointing for a few minutes and then after a short time, the kids are right back in the sandbox playing again like nothing happened.

Kids have a much greater natural ability to let go of difficult events faster than us adults. We learn how to hold on to things as we get older because we have all this complex thinking that requires full mental resolution on things.

Kids don’t have that yet and can develop resiliency through difficult events, if allowed to. That’s what we should want for them for their participation in sports, life skills like resilience.

To do that, Kids often need the space and freedom to express, if they want to, and then process the difficulty in their own way. Let them. If a kid is holding on to the loss or poor performance and it’s effects for more than a day, then you can jump in and ask if he or she would like to talk or would like some help with their game to improve on the problem.

But, stop jumping in and saving your kid or teaching them how to do it right next time at the worst time, right after the event. That’s what we have coaches for. Resilience is the foundation for confidence.

3. Stop Delivering typical sports cliches and trite sayings that mean nothing to a kid like:

“You just have to believe in yourself”
“When you’re out there, you have to be focused”
“Stop overthinking”
“Just go out there and have fun”

This is my personal pet peeve having worked in this area for so long, and youth coaches are the worst offenders. Think about this, can you explain to a kid HOW to believe in themselves? Can you give them the steps to “Stop overthinking?” Or how about that vague command to “Get focused or get your head in the game?.”

They don’t know what any of that means, let alone HOW to do what you are telling them. And so what happens? You create confusion, uncertainty, worry that they “Aren’t doing it right” and will ultimately disappoint the adults giving them the advice.

So, instead of the kid just playing in the present moment with their body, which they do naturally and don’t have to be told HOW to do, by the way, we teach them with these silly cliche’s to get in their head and their useless fear-based thoughts.

Also, you might think that telling them to “Just go out there and have fun” is good advice and it CAN be…but, it is a risky move and here’s why:

The whole culture of youth sports is organized around winning and how well the kids perform. There’s no question about that.

Coaches, parents in the stands cheering good play and being disappointed in poor play like I already mentioned…and other messages constantly coming at them like:
Did you win?
How did you do?
Did you start today?
Did you score?
How many points? etc.

If that isn’t enough, Kids base their identity on whether or not they get playing time, make the team, get to the next level and even their friendships are centered around this. These messages are constant and everywhere…

and then you go and tell them to “Just go out there and have fun.” They hear that and at best, they forget it after 2 minutes and slip back into the whole performance-centered mentality they’ve been overwhelmed with. And at worst, subconsciously destroy their confidence in advice from you because of the mixed messages.

The irony of of it all is that the parent or coach is giving the advice with the hopes that it helps their performance when in actuality, it hurts it.

Craig Sigl’s work with youth athletes has been featured on NBC TV and ESPN. Get his free ebook: “The 10 Commandments For a Great Sports Parent” and also a free training and .mp3 guided visualization to help young athletes perform under pressure by visiting www.mentaltoughnesstrainer.com

Lazy Volunteer Coaches?

By Brian Gotta, President of CoachDeck

Over the years we’ve had the fortune to have thousands and thousands of youth sports organizations provide our unique CoachDeck to their coaches. Of course, not everyone we approach becomes a client, and we understand when the budget it tight and there’s no room for anything but the barest necessities. But the we felt compelled to address the comments we received from one organization President recently, because we’re sure he’s not alone in his thinking.

In telling us he was going to pass on ordering decks for his soccer club this individual wrote, “The concept appears to reward the lazy coach where you state in your literature that ‘you can literally show up at practice with no time to plan’. This goes against everything we encourage in our coaches where we are looking for a practice plan that spans the whole season to measure individual player and team development.”

See, we at CoachDeck do not think volunteer coaches are lazy. Busy, maybe, but not lazy. They are doing us a favor by coaching for free. The individual who wrote this email is probably paid a salary by the club. Guess where a good portion of the club’s revenue comes from? Recreational player registrations. If no one volunteered to coach, this revenue would be eliminated and so would some or all of his salary. Yet, those good folks who are doing this job for free are lazy?

We, as league administrators, need to realize that not everyone can devote the amount of time we’d like. Not all are as “into it” as we are. I think of a person who owns a sandwich shop. When he makes a sandwich for a customer he tries to create a work of art. All the ingredients applied precisely, the plating perfect. He wants it to be the best sandwich the customer has ever had.

Then he hires employees to help him make sandwiches. He observes them rushing through the process, skipping steps, not being as careful as he’d like. He can’t understand how they would not take the same pride in each meal as he does. What he doesn’t get is that it is not their business. They are just doing this job temporarily. This shop may be his life, but it is not theirs. It doesn’t mean they don’t care at all – they just don’t care as much.

So we designed our product to bridge the gap between the professional and the volunteer. CoachDeck was created to give a lifeline to the coach who is overwhelmed but trying his best. We want to provide a shot in the arm of confidence to those who might only be coaching because no one else was willing to do it. We’re proud to give them a tool that’s easy to use, not a chore, so that they can have fun with kids instead of being robotic drill instructors. It’s rec sports. Fun comes first. Individual and team development? Somewhere further down the list. We know that not all volunteer coaches will be as diligent or skilled as we are. But we’ll thank them for pitching in, and never call them lazy.

Ironically, on this particular club’s website we found this: The recreational program is geared for players who love the game of soccer and want to keep playing and improving their skills, while not committing the additional time and effort necessary for a travel team.  Games are held every Saturday and the individual coaches decide on the number of practices.  If your child enjoys playing soccer and does not want to commit to the more demanding requirements of a travel team, then come join our recreational soccer program.

We couldn’t have said it much better ourselves.

Brian Gotta is a former professional youth baseball coach and current volunteer Little League coach and board member. He is the President of CoachDeck and also author of four youth sports novels which can be found at www.booksbygotta.com. He can be reached at brian@coachdeck.com

Burlington Little League Wisconsin state champs

Congratulations to CoachDeck client Burlington (WI) Little League for winning their state championship. While they did not move on to the ultimate destination, the Little League World Series, they did have a tremendous year.

Top 10 Athletic Activities In the USA

Our partner, PHIT America.org has published a study of the top athletic activities undertaken in the United States. You may be surprised which ones grew the most in the past few years. You can read the article here.

OnDeck Newsletter welcomes new advertiser, Personal Pitcher

Need an affordable and portable way to hit anywhere, 12 months a year, indoors or out? The Personal Pitcher fires golf ball-sized wiffles to improve eye-hand coordination, timing and bat speed. Used by the pros! We’re proud to have them as a sponsor for OnDeck!