Podcast: What to Look For in Your Kids’ Coaches | Steve Barkley

Podcast: What to Look For in Your Kids’ Coaches

What to Look for in Your Kids’ Coaches

Volunteer and paid coaches connecting with your children can play an important role in developing important life skills as well as performing skills. Five elements of building developmental relationships and a strategy called “compete, learn, honor” are explored. How does a focus on safety, fun, and growth reinforce respect and empowerment?

Read “Tips for Youth Sports Coaches” from the Search Institute here.
Find Coach Pete’s videos here.

Subscribe to the Steve Barkley Ponders Out Loud podcast on iTunes or visit BarkleyPD.com to find new episodes!

PODCAST TRANSCRIPTSteve [Intro]: 00:01 Hello, and welcome to the parents as learning coaches edition of the Steve Barkley Ponders Out Loud podcast. Parents and caregivers play many different roles, and even sometimes conflicting roles as they support children’s development. The pandemic has shown a light on the importance of parents supporting learners. In this podcast, I’ll share my experiences as a teacher, educator, parent, grandparent, and continuous learner that can support your coaching efforts.

Steve: 00:37 What to look for in your kids’ coaches. I came across a blog about tips for youth sports coaches from the Search Institute that led me to share this podcast with you. You’ll of course find the links to that blog in the podcast lead-in. I frequently access the research strategies and examples from Search Institute in my work with teachers. The focus of the institute is on building developmental relationships with students. Those relationships empower young people to increased success in life as well as in academics. The blog explained that coaching, whether paid or voluntary, can be a very complex task to take on. It described that a coach may serve as an instructor, a teacher, motivator, disciplinarian, substitute, parent, social worker, friend, manager, therapist, and even a fundraiser. That’s a lot to juggle, but at the bottom of each practice, lesson, match or game, every interaction that students are having, we want to be focused on creating meaningful relationships with young people.

Steve: 02:01 Relationships that encourage them to develop positive values as people and as student athletes. The suggestion from the blog was looking at all that complexity that I just mentioned, probably good to keep it simple with three focus points. One, keeping kids safe. Two, giving them fun. And three, helping them grow. Search Institute recommends that coaches combine a focus on five elements for building relationships, along with an approach that’s titled, “Compete, Learn, and Honor.” Let’s look first at the five elements for building developmental relationships. The elements are: express care, challenge growth, provide support, share power, expand possibilities. Let me explore each one a little bit further. Express care – how do players know that coaches believe in them? What verbal and non-verbal messages are they receiving? Can they count on the coach? I frequently identify a message working with teachers that I want students to believe that I work for them rather than they work for me or that they’re doing work for me.

Steve: 03:43 I think the same thing can carry over to a coach, recognizing that the student’s work, the student effort is for themselves, not for the coach. Next, challenge growth. Do players know that coaches expect them to stretch? How are goals presented to players? Do they know that we all expect that they will fail from time to time and that coaches will work with them to learn from those mistakes or learn from those unsuccessful attempts? Provide support. How do we guide students in difficult times as an advocate and empower them to take charge of situations? Coaches need a combination of supporting and challenging. In some of my work with teachers, I found an interesting title that they put on teachers who are able to do that, and I think it fits for coaches. The title is “Warm Demanders.” Warm Demanders approach their students with unconditional positive regard, knowing students and their cultures well and insisting that students perform to a high standard.

Steve: 05:05 Students have told researchers at times that teachers who communicate that they are important enough to be pushed, disciplined, taught, and respected is critical to the student’s development. Share power. Players recognize that they are respected when they are given a say. When a player’s voice and choice are built into the decision making around practices or strategies, it helps to build relationships. And lastly, expanding possibilities. We can strengthen relationships, and coaches can increase relationships by increasing the circle of supporters for students. How do we assist kids in dreaming big and having confidence in themselves as well as in our and others support for them? Kids, athletes, students with strong developmental relationships in school and in youth programs have better social-emotional competencies, including self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, responsible decision making, and relationship skills. That’s a big extra payoff from kids’ engagement in appropriate youth athletics. The second focus from the Search Institute article is titled, “Compete, Learn, and Honor approach.” It was designed by Peter Scales, a veteran developmental psychologist with the focus on positive youth development through sports coaching. Listen in as coach Pete describes, “compete, learn, honor.”

Coach Pete: 07:14 Hi everybody, coach Pete here. We’re starting our mental strengthening series today, and we start with compete, learn, honor. If you remember nothing else out of this series, remember that when you get in trouble on the court, remember, you’re there to compete, learn, honor. This is all about how you redefine success. Success is not about wins and losses. Success is about do you give your a hundred percent effort all the time? Are you an open, curious, and humble learner? Very important. And last one, honor. By how you act, do you bring credit to yourself, your teammates, your coaches, opponents, officials, if you have them, your family, school, and the game of tennis? If you do all those things, then you’re improving as a player and as a person. And that’s the purpose, aside from having fun while you’re out there and playing tennis. So remember, compete, learn, and honor are the most important things to remember, and honor is the foundation for everything. How you act determines how you’re gonna learn, how you learn determines how you’re gonna compete. Have fun out there. This is Coach Pete, and we’ll see you next time for another lesson on mental strengthening.

Steve: 08:31 A study of middle and high school student athletes across the country found that those with the strong compete, learn, honor team climate had better social-emotional skills, more confidence in their coach, derived more purpose from playing their sport, and had a greater intention to continue playing. The link to the videos of Coach Pete are found in the podcast lead-in. Coaches using the compete, learn, honor approach along with parents, can assess how much their program defines success, not in terms of wins and losses, but whether players are competing, meaning, giving a hundred percent effort. Learning – are the players open, curious, and humble learners and honoring the game? Are players respecting all, making no excuses, and showing high character under stress and adversity with honor being the foundation for all the learning and competitive development? As I prepared this podcast, I kept reflecting back on two impactful coaches from my youth , and that was a long time ago, but I can clearly recall how the work of my soccer coach, Mr. Dean and a band director, Mr. Maza, how they both convinced me why and supported me in being a better person as well as a better performer.

Steve: 10:09 Let me close with this quote from Search Institute. When respect, empowerment, and larger purpose are not just words, but hallmarks of the way that coaches and ultimately players act in the sports setting, then the culture of the team or the program itself make safety, fun and growth far more likely. And the safety, fun, and growth then reinforce respect, empowerment, and larger purpose in a repeating loop of positive relationships and experiences. I hope that you and your kids are finding those positive experiences. Thanks for listening.

Steve [Outro]: 11:19 Thanks for listening in folks. I’d love to hear what you’re pondering. You can find me on Twitter @SteveBarkley or send me your questions and find my videos and blogs at barkleypd.com.

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