Being a coach is an incredibly rewarding experience that comes with its own unique challenges.
We asked a wide variety of sports coaches with different backgrounds and years of experience the same question:
What is the single greatest piece of advice you would give to a new sports coach?
John Curtis | Follow@JCurtisSoccer | Played in the English Premier League for 4 different clubs. Youth development professional, UEFA A License Coach & Technical Director of the NYCSL
"Never stop learning."
Sean Welsh | Follow @SeanJWelsh | Youth soccer coach
"Keep things in perspective."
Trevor McLean | Follow @BballCoachMac | Youth basketball coach, founder of Basketball For Coaches
"The single greatest piece of advice I'd give to a new sports coach is to remember that, above all else, youth sports is about enjoyment and developing a love for the sport.
It doesn't matter how many games you win if your kids don't enjoy themselves. Bring enthusiasm to every practice and every game. High-five the kids. Smile. Make jokes. Don't worry about the scoreboard.
Here's one of my favorite quotes of all time by Paul McAllister... 'Youth coaches measure success in smiles.'"
"Coaching youth basketball is a marathon, not a sprint. It takes months and years for true development to occur. You should think about long term development versus short term. Too many coaches focus on short term results of winning which greatly hinders the development for young kids.
So be patient. Winning is not the measure of a great youth coach. It's the impact you have on them in the future. That's the true measure.
Put learning how to play basketball ahead of learning your system. This is paramount. Almost all your time should be spent on things that will help players no matter what team or coach they play for in the future. If you spend hours getting players to memorize "your set plays," how does that help them in the future when they're on a different team? Instead, teach them fundamentals like spacing, cutting, screening, shooting, dribbling, 1v1 moves, passing, footwork, defense, and lay ups. All of those things will not only make your team better in the long run, it will also help those players in the future. Again, put learning how to play basketball ahead of learning YOUR system.
Lastly, your practices should allow your players to get as many touches on the ball as possible. Thousands of touches in a practice. That means little to NO standing in lines. Everyone has a ball. And fast paced practices that are lots of fun."
Coach Bennett | Follow @Softball_CoachB | Head Softball Coach at UNC Pembroke
"1. Praise in groups and criticize 1on1
2. Tell them what you want them to do, not what you don't... Avoid using DON'T
3. Be YOU"
Shane Beamer | Follow @CoachSBeamer | Assistant Football Coach at Virginia Tech.
"Meet as many coaches as you can. Network."
"Plan on having fun and making your players better every minute you are with them."
Dave Cottle | Follow @CoachCottle | President of the Chesapeake Bayhawks of Major League Lacrosse
"In college it would be three pillars of Recruit, Develop and Retain. In high school it will be devise a plan, implement it daily and get the players to make it their plan."
Bill Shafer | Follow@BillShafer | Youth hockey coach
"You're not teaching sports, but LIFE. Helping kids become adults. Responsibility + Accountability = Success! LOVE the question!"
Jackie Spiegel | Follow@nycdowntowndiva | Youth ice hockey head coach
"[Having] a positive attitude. If you're yelling a lot or negative if they make a mistake, they'll never learn & will start hating sports"
Coach Cotner | Follow @SHS_TRACK | Head boys track and field coach at Springfield High School in Springfield, IL
"Be confident in the decisions that you make. Never second guess yourself. Stay consistent in how you make decisions. There are a lot of important parts to being a coach, wins and losses should be way down the list."
"Set goals, learn from those that have achieved great things in your sport, and be patient. One of the biggest mistakes I made early on was that I expected to be successful right away. I wanted to be competitive, but I had not invested the time to learn how. I started to reach out to other coaches that had achieved great things and invited them to coffee or lunch. The more I talked to coaches the more I realized how important it was to keep learning. I still set really high goals for our team, but invested the time to actually reach those goals. Give it 3 to 5 years, and focus on the process to achieve those goals. You will start to see results!"
"Know how to play the game before you attempt to teach it. Nothing replaces the experience of being an athlete."
Any advice that you'd like to give that we missed? Reach out to @SquadLocker on Twitter for a chance to be featured in our next coaches roundup!
Huge thank you to all of the coaches who participated and shared their advice!