Fall sports are all over the place. Some teams are moving full speed ahead, fingers crossed; others have cancelled in advance, to short-circuit the misery; most are edging forward gradually, crafting contingency plans, developing hybrid practice models, and trying to stay on top of the news, especially anything Covid-related. As much as the uncertainty rattles coaches, it’s even more challenging for kids, many of whom rely on their sports teams for…everything: friendship, exercise, consistency, fun, motivation, competition, and for some, a sense of family.
While COVID-19 has decimated sports schedules and upended practice plans, coaches retain the power to help kids grow. Now more than ever, children and teenagers need responsible adults in their lives who can model good behavior and act as bulwarks against the chaos. If you got into coaching to help kids, you may be having your greatest impact now. Here are ten ways coaches can support their athletes, with thanks to these experts and practitioners who shared their counsel: Megan Bartlett, founder of We Coach; Bobbi Moran, athletic director at Kent Place School; Ashley Quinn, high-school lacrosse coach; Richard Weissbourd, co-director of Making Caring Common at Harvard; and all the good people at the Aspen Institute Project Play.
You can do this through group texts and emails with the whole team or with team captains. (But texts and emails between you and a single player should be avoided, in keeping with the need to maintain appropriate boundaries.) Demonstrate sincere interest without fixating on how they’re managing their workouts. Don’t be afraid to ask, “How are you feeling? How can I help?”
To the extent you can, develop procedures for the team that they can count on, as you would in ordinary times. These could include a warm-up and cool-down series, regular drills, a weekly strategy talk, etc. Give them predictability when it’s lacking everywhere else.
Read the rest of this article and many more on the PCA Blog. Minnesota Hockey is a proud partner of Positive Coaching Alliance and offers a grant program to support youth hockey associations in Minnesota who are interested in hosting PCA workshops. Click here to learn more.