One of the hardest things about coaching is getting started. Everything seems new and you’re not sure where to turn.
We surveyed several of the coaches on the US Lacrosse staff and asked them, “What’s the one thing you know now that you wished you knew when you started coaching?”
Our group has experience coaching at the youth, club, high school and collegiate levels, and they offered some great advice for new and old coaches alike.
#1 Winning Doesn’t Define You
“You have to let your ego go. Winning or not winning shouldn’t reflect on you personally. You have to take the group in front of you and get the most out of them that you can. You can’t control the outcome.”
#2 Manage Parent Expectations
“I just didn’t do it. I thought my job was to coach the kids. Now I’m brutally honest with the parents. They may not like what they hear, but they respect that you’re straight up honest with them.”
#3 Playing Experience Doesn’t Make You a Coach
My playing career has little to do with whether or not I’m a good coach, there’s just not much correlation. You can’t fit each kid into some predetermined little box. You have to be able to be player centric. That comes with experience, age and good mentoring.
#4 Don’t Forget to Have Fun
“You can get to a point where it feels so much like a job and you forget it’s supposed to be fun when the pressure becomes overwhelming. You can make things fun and incorporate those with competition and hard work. Hard work can be fun.”
#5 Be Aware of Your Commitment
“There’s more than just coaching. You have to deal with all the off the field stuff — parents, scheduling, event directors. There always seems to be some issue — someone needs a ride, you don’t know when the game is going to be played, someone’s missing because they’re playing another sport. You have to find a way to make it work.
“And there’s the time commitment. You pretty much have to block off the whole day or weekend before a tournament because you never know when your games are going to be played.”
#6 Understand Their Level
“I had to meet them where they were developmentally. I was giving them too much information and I lost them. They just shut down.”
#7 Pretzels Aren’t Just for Philly
“I’ve had coaches tell me, ‘I coach a certain style, I’m not going to pretzel myself.’ I disagree with that. You have to adjust to your players’ abilities and needs.”
Thanks to Kevin Greene, Jamal Jones, Caitlin Kelley, Andi O’Connor, Brian Turk and Natalie Wills for sharing their advice.