Growth Spurts: Coach
By Carrie Bevell Partridge
I’ve been called a lot of things over the years, but “Coach” has never been one of them… until recently. My 13-year-old daughter Katie signed up to play in a recreational volleyball league, and they needed coaches. Since I played in high school and love the sport (plus, I was going to be at all the practices and matches anyway), I decided to volunteer.
I was so nervous before our first practice. I knew there would be no hiding the fact that I had never done this before. So I just went ahead and confessed to the girls that I was an inexperienced coach. But I promised to give them my best effort, and I hoped they would do the same.
It took me a little while to figure out my coaching style. As a player, a fan, and now as a parent, I have observed a lot of different coaching styles through the years, and I wasn’t totally sure which one was going to emerge from me. I was pretty sure I wasn’t going to be a yeller, nor was I going to use the positive-only approach. And I would not allow myself to be a passive bystander. As I read and listened to other coaches and remembered what it was like when I was a player, I started figuring out my personal style. I confess that I was very intimidated by the coaches that had more knowledge and experience than I did. It was hard not to compare myself to them. But I believe that different styles can produce different results, and there is not just one style that works perfectly across the board for all coaches and players. So I found my style and slowly began to be secure(ish) in it.
Parents, I think you probably know where I’m going with this. We all have our unique styles of parenting/coaching, don’t we? Our personalities and our backgrounds play into this, but we also take into consideration what kinds of “players” we have on our “team” as well as who else is on our “coaching staff.” When we first get started, most of us are completely terrified because of our inexperience, and we need to give ourselves the freedom to admit that we don’t know what we’re doing. We also need to give ourselves permission to learn from those parents/coaches who are experienced. If you like what you see in their team, be proactive in learning from them!
Now for one of the biggest challenges–avoiding the comparison game. Each of us knows our team — the personalities, the strengths, the weaknesses — and we know ourselves, too. If your coaching style is working for everyone on your team, stick with it. If it’s not, don’t be afraid to make some changes. But it is important to note that all kinds of coaches have produced winning records.