Evaluating your Richmond kid’s youth coach. . .it’s a science, according to Coach Criz

imageRichmond’s Gary Criswell, aka “Coach Criz”imageEvaluating Your Child’s Youth Coach

I have already rubbed some people the wrong way just with the title of this article. You may have already dipped your toes into bubbling stream that is youth sports. You are asking yourself; do I EVEN want parents evaluating me when I am trying to coach their kids?
As you might expect from my background that I am “pro coach”; I believe that parents need to understand that there has to be some boundaries when they entrust their children to a coach. I can honestly tell you that I did manage to follow that advice myself when my children played youth sports for another coach. I set my own boundaries. Fortunately for all involved my parameters comfortably meshed with my kids’ coaches’ expectations. Make no mistake; the final word on that boundary must lie with the coach. Sorry Mom! Sorry Dad!

Evaluating your child’s coach will always be tied to your personal expectations for your child; whatever those expectations may be. Fortunately we are still a “results oriented” society and the “bottom line” exists even in youth sports. My advice is to evaluate the process more than the results. Different parents will view their child’s team’s “results” and come to many varied conclusions. Observing how your kid’s coach goes about their business is a much more objective way of measuring how successful they can be for your child. My experience is that the process of youth coaching done correctly inevitably takes care of the final results.

Here are some suggestions of what to look for when evaluating your child’s coach. They are not necessarily in order of importance; remember these are your expectations, not mine.

1. Organization. When I speak to youth sports coaches I tell them that they have to be more organized than their most organized parent. If you can’t manage that then “hire” your most organized parent! One of the most lasting life lessons of youth sports is that; “chaos is bad; organization is good”.

2. Curb Appeal. This is tricky; there are a lot of great youth coaches that don’t look the part, but are tremendously effective. I look for a coach that recognizes that this is a public relations job and they should approach the job accordingly. How far does a first impression go with your child? How about with you?

3. Communication. Proper communication puts you in partnership with your child’s coach. Boundaries, expectations and philosophy should all be a part of this conversation. How does your child’s coach handle correcting and criticizing your child; rest assured it will happen. A coach that puts it in writing has gotten off to a good start.

4. Entertainment Factor. Does my child have fun? You know that you have hit the jackpot when you kid has a coach that can make practice fun. I am told that the best advice I have ever given out is to find a fun way to see who LIKES to compete. It was a more “pressurized” situation; but I once took a Girls Softball All-Star team (11-12) bowling. I wanted to see who really liked to compete, even when there was nothing at stake.

5. Sports Knowledge. The older the child the more important this becomes for you and your child. The more advanced the coach is with his craft the more important it is for them to also aspire to qualities 1-4 when they coach your child. In other words; knowledge of a sport does not guarantee coaching success. This flaw exists at every imaginable level of play; even in professional sports.

6. Intangibles. When I played Little League I had a coach with a river place and a built-in swimming pool. Best coach I ever had!

Enjoy the game!

About the Author

Gary Criswell has coached and officiated multiple years in youth sports while making football his main focus. That has led him to coaching positions at the high school, college and Arena football level. “Coach Criz” currently is in his 14th year of broadcasting High School Football (Sports Radio 910). He also currently serves as the color analyst for football and basketball for the Virginia State Trojans for WVST FM and Campus TV.

Kate Hall

Kate Hall is the Founder & CEO of RichmondMom.com and author of Richmond Rocks ,a history book for kids. She has three children and a cup that overfloweth. She is truly appreciative of the 100,000 + visitors who visit the blog every year, and for the amazing team of writers who create unique, valuable content. Kate is thrilled to fulfill her dream of having a cool place for Richmond, VA parents to learn, grow, and share while supporting local charities.

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