Just like thousands of other moms and dads every year, I coached my three sons in sports. The call to duty was thrust upon me in the beginning, but twenty five years later I hated hanging it up. To say I enjoyed it is an understatement. What I should say is coaching youth sports made me a better dad and person.

I got into coaching for the same reasons most parents do, to connect a little closer with our kids. Oh, some dads do not believe anyone else is capable of coaching their son than themselves. But that usually comes a few years down the road. Most of us think the involvement will strengthen the bond between parent and child. We will be spending quality time with our children.

And for the large majority of parents as coaches, the connection with their child does grow. But it grows in a way we never imagined. Through the wonder of it, our children learn to respect and admire us for taken on this big task. We may be just ordinary, hard working citizens.

Even before coaching, our kids love us, because we are nice to them, we do things with them, and we provide a roof over their head. But when we are coaching youth sports they get to see us in action. They get to be a part of a team we are building.

I hate to even mention this, but yes, there over zealous parents who actually end up doing harm to their relationship with their child. If you have been involved with youth sports even for a short period of time, you have probably seen it. Dad or mom is much harder on their Johnny than any of the other players.

The sad part is they do not see it themselves. To try and make sure no one thinks they are playing favorites with their child, they go overboard the other way. They are hardest on their kid.

And it is a shame but few people will step up and say anything. For that reason, if you decide to coach one of your children, you have to pick another parent with the team who you feel you can trust. Ask that parent to keep an eye on you and make sure every player, including your own, is treated the same. Make sure you convey to them that this is very important.

Having gotten that out of the way, here is another piece of bad news. Yes, parents can be a problem. There is no getting around it, handling parents is the hardest part of coaching youth sports. But there are ways to minimize or prevent any problems.

First, draw up a plan. Do you have the right equipment, and if not, where will you get it? Do you know when and where practices and games are? Will the team play in any tournaments? What is the cost of the team? Will there be any fund raisers? Where will the uniforms come from?

Once you have answers to as many of those questions as possible, then have a team meeting. If possible, hold the meeting before the first practice. If not, then hold the meeting at the beginning or end of the first practice. Communicate as much information to the parents as you can.

Also, get a signup sheet with name, phone number and email address. The league may have given you a list, but ask again. There are always some changes. Communicating by email is very handy. Just be sure and tell everyone that is how you intend to send out information, so they will be watching for messages from you.

The best and easiest part of the position is coaching the kids. Here is what I have found that young kids want out of sports, and in this order.

First, they want to have fun. Above all else kids want to enjoy what they are doing, don’t we all. So let them have as much fun as they can.

Second, they want to learn. You teach a kid something new about a sport and their eyes will light up. This is what coaching youth sports is all about. You teach them something and then you get to watch them put it into action.

Third, they like to win. Yes, it really is third on the list. They like to win as much as we do, just not at the expense of having fun or winning at all costs. If playing people at new positions is the right thing to do, but we might lose the game, the kids vote to play people at new positions. They will do it every time.

Like I said in the beginning, when my time to lay down the whistle came it made me sad. But the time was right. I have sons coaching and grandkids playing. It is time for me to retire to the stands.

Author's Bio: 

With all this idle time on my hands, yes, coaching youth sports takes quite a bit of time; I have started a website about baseball drills. I coached youth basketball and baseball and baseball was by far my favorite. Two of my sons went on to play baseball at the college level. If you need some ideas for coaching youth baseball, be sure to check out my website: Helpful Baseball Drills