Author of Model Coach: A Common Sense Guide for Coaches of Youth Sports
1. Daniel, what inspired you to write your new book? I wanted to leave a lasting legacy that lives on without me in an area of my life that am passionate about and have wide-range experience.
2. What change in philosophy do you call for when it comes to youth sports? Youth coaches must give up on the “win at all cost” mentality. Just because all the high-paid professional coaches focus on that (or they get fired), does not make it right or appropriate for youth sports. Coaches need to take a bigger picture view and realize they are not only coaching the players, but also their parents, other coaches, fans and officials.
3. Is it better to have parents to coach their kids—or non-parents? Why? I believe it takes a rare relationship for a parent to consistently be a sports coach for their kids. I’ve found coaching my own kids works well when I can rely on other coaches to do the direct coaching and I do the indirect coaching (ie. I coach the coach). As parents, we can tell when our kids our truly giving a high level of effort. Other coaches do not know the difference since they only see your child on sporadic occasions. I do think it is great for parents to be an assistant coach for their kids, if nothing else, they get to spend more time around them and observing them through the trials and tribulations of sports.
4. What type of training would the amateur coaches benefit from? Anything would be a good start. I am not aware of any coaching clinics that help coaches teach values, or how to be a good leader as a coach. They focus 99+% on tactics, formations, drills, etc. I apply my business experience to my coaching, so perhaps coaches should attend more leadership and management training within their organizations!
5. You believe an emphasis needs to be put on developing players and not wins or trophies. Why? I’m not opposed to wins. I fear we teach players the wrong way to win. Instead, teach players to “earn wins as a team”. Developing players and teamwork among the team is all about taking a process approach. A process approach is about having goals that are at a much higher level, more important than wins or a trophy. Goals such as “Creating an experience that causes 80% or more of the players to return the next season” or “100% of the players get to carry the football at two different times in a game during the season” will go a long ways to develop every player and stronger teamwork among the team. Guess what happens you accomplish these more important goals? You tend to win more of your games, too. Plus, when you lose, it offers everyone (coaches, players and parents) a great opportunity to learn life lessons. The handful of seasons my team would go undefeated, I wondered if they learned enough life lessons.
6. What rewards—and challenges did you experience in writing this book? The challenge was making the time to research and write the book itself. I ended up getting the vast majority done when my family was asleep … between 10pm and 3am. The rewards come here and there by way of coaches telling me how the book has helped them and their team. Hearing the book was easy to read and apply is music to my ears.
7. Did you coach your kid’s sports teams? What did you enjoy about the experience? Yes, about 75% of the time. I enjoyed seeing them interacting with other kids, coaching each other. And, those memorable moments where they did were a part of something special that helped the team, you have a front row seat to view the special moments. It was also great seeing them consoling other team members, being positive leaders in support of their team.
8. How should coaches communicate with their young players? Get to their level: physically and verbally. Literally, kneel down so you are at their eye level. To verbally communicate at their level, interact with players before and after practices, paying close attention to the words they use and the things they talk about. Tie your coaching points to their experiences when possible. A smile, a laugh, a little humor goes a long ways with anybody and at age!