Damnyan's Corner: Coach, Teach & Educate

Folks here we go again. We will continue to talk about coaching junior/youth football and what are the requirements coaches got to have in order to be good. As I have said in my previous article, I have given a lecture few years back about junior program where I have been a head coach. 

I have explained to the other coaches my point of view where coaches on the junior level got to have. I will list them all and elaborate on each point individually.

Here is the list:
  • Coach
  • Teacher/Educator
  • Parent
  • Brother
  • Best Friend

This is a broad term. Coaches job goes far from the field. He has to be a good manager of the game and also a personnel manager and in many occasions he has to deal with things that do not have much in common with football. From my stand point Coach has to have greater perspective of things around him that affects the entire team. 

I monitored some of my player’s school reports. Went to school and talked to their teachers. And no, I have not tried to justify their bad grades or try to pursue teachers to correct them; I just wanted to see where those kids are academically. Let’s face it, after sport is over, only thing you are left with is your education. 

Injuries are a common thing in football and every coach has to know the basics of dealing with them. Majority of teams does not have medical staff on their teams, so your coach is the first person who has to take care of an injury. You have to treat that injury right away and then help transport the injured kid to the nearest emergency hospital or wait for an ambulance to come. I had my share of dealing with heavy injuries that happened to my players and it is a very hard thing for everyone to see. 

Also very important thing for a coach is proper conduct in terms of dealing with parents. In Serbia, football is not a known sport, so we do not have parents pressing you why their son does not play and similar stuff. But if that problem occurs you have to deal with it with discretion and dignity because you have to maintain your reputation. 

Also in job description is the thing that you, as a coach, have to incorporate parents more in your programs activities. From my experience problem that I saw is parents that are not interested in things their kids do. If I excuse several fathers and mother, no parent have came to me during practices and games to see and get to know better a person that spends a lot of time with their kid. That bothered me and still is. We all know that football is a violent sport. I personally would like to know who is coaching my kid and what person is he like. Is he a Coach or is he pretending to be a coach! 

Summary - coach has to deal with issues that are far away from the football field, organization things, academics, injury prevention, dealing with occurred injuries and treat parents right way. Those are non football things you as a coach have to do in order to become a coach you want to be!

As a coach you have to know ins and outs of the sport you are coaching, but here is the trick, it`s the way you present your knowledge to the kids that makes the difference! Let me explain. 

You can be the best X`s and O`s guy in the world, best tactician, but if you do not find the way to present and transfer your knowledge to the average kid than all that is worth nothing! Same like school, you had teachers that just did their class and you did not understand a bit, but those teachers were some form of scientists. Did you ask yourself how that is possible!? It`s simple, they did not know how to transfer their knowledge so that average person could understand it. It`s the same thing in football. 

Your teaching part of coaching is essential to success of your kids and the team. I will make example from my experience, we all started watching and learning football from watching the NFL, and all first resources were connected with the NFL, ether some internet thing or Madden, first playbooks we saw were the NFL type. 

Let me ask you a question, do you think that an NFL playbook can find usage in group of total beginners? I know you all know the answer! 

Some years have passed and we got some experience and we learned the hard way that this thing about adjustments of our knowledge in order for it to work. In teaching part of the job, there is also another adjustment, how to deal with kids that do not “get it” for the first time!

It`s great to work with talented kids, you show them something and they do it without mistake, but not all kids are like this. Majority of kids that you will coach falls in the group of average kids, if you are lucky in your team there will be few talented kids. In order to make good team you need average and talented kids the same. 

There are 11 spots on the field that you have to fill and your team is good as its weakest link. As a coach you have the role of educator you have to fulfill. By that, I mean that you have to educate kids on some issues that they can face either in sports or life. For the kids in their late teens that are in sports, that age can be tempting! 

There are on field and off field issues that you have to educate them on. First thing that comes to mind is usage of body enhancing performance stimulants - BEPS (supplements, steroids)! You must educate your players on variety of BEPS, what are they, why are they used, should they use them on their own etc. Also alcohol, drugs and girls can influence your kids in wrong way. 

You, as a coach, cannot be a police officer nor you should, but in talking and educating your kids, with some help of parents, problems related to usage of above mentioned things can be put to minimum! 

Summary – you have to teach sports to your kids the right way. Find the way to present and transfer your knowledge to EVERY kid. Educate them about all those issues that can cause problems on and off field. At first you may not get reaction like you wanted but be patient and persistent, eventually it will all pay off, with interest, believe me!

That’s it folks for today, I have to get back to my job now. Next time I will write about remaining aspects of junior/youth coach. While you're waiting for the new article, please go to my blog www.americkifudbalnasrpskinacin.blogspot.com for some interesting defensive articles. Feel free to comment on it. Also if there is certain topic that you think I should cover, just send me e-mail to zorand54@gmail.com !

Have a great week!
Zoran Damnjanović