I know that several of our students are playing my favorite sport this year: basketball. Additionally, we were fortunate this year to have been able to sponsor several baseball teams in the Lutherville Timonium Rec Council League. Although I have never coached youth sports, I have taught Karate in the Towson area for over 10 years, and I have read a great deal about coaching youth sports.
Before doing some research, I had the completely wrong idea about coaching children. I was committing so many mistakes, that it's not even funny. However, most of them can be summed up in one word: shortsightedness.
When working with children, we have to see the big picture. What is in their long-term best interest? For example, when I was in 8th grade I was one of the taller kids. I learned how to play the center position on the basketball court very effectively. I couldn't dribble, pass the ball, or play perimeter defense, but none of that mattered because I made up for it in size and athleticism.
There was only one problem: I didn't get much taller after the 8th grade. I also didn't get any more athletic. When I was in 8th grade I was only focused on becoming the best player I could be at that point in time. I was not laying the foundation for a successful basketball career in high school or maybe even college.
Now what's my point, that we should coach our kids so that they can become college athletes? No, not necessarily. I'm just pointing out how little things like scores, batting averages, and points matter in these early formative years. What is really important, is teaching youngsters the importance of teamwork, effort, practice, and fun!
I've seen many cases where everyone says, "Oh, that kid is amazing, he's going to play in the pros one day!" Then they may not even play in high school. On the other hand, you might see a child who seems way behind in terms of physical development, who DOES end up becoming a solid player when they get older.
-Sensei Jon is a 2005 graduate of Towson University in Towson. He has taught martial arts in the Towson and Lutherville Timonium areas for over 10 years.