Being a young coach, I have experienced the positive effects that I, along with other young coaches, can bring to the game that we coach. I have also had the good fortune to have had a few young coaches over the course of my playing career. Incidentally, those young coaches have had a tremendous impact on me, all of which has been positive.My coaching staff consists of guys who are 24, 23, and 22 years of age. We all get along incredibly well. These are guys whom I consider my family and brothers as I’ve known them for a large part of my life (we’re talking 10+ years). Anyone who sees us interacting as a staff can quite easily identify the compatibility, comfortability, and uniformity that we have amongst each other. From my experience, this sort of cohesiveness is infectious to players, other coaches, and volunteers/spectators in any sports community.
It would be unfair of me to suggest that young coaches are the ‘best’ coaches. In fact, I will go as far to say that age, as a non-binary category, has little to do with how ‘good’ a coach is. Young coaches don’t have everything in their coaching toolkit to make them a successful coach. The main thing that young coaches lack, as we could probably predict, is experience. By that, I mean being in high-pressure situations in games where key decisions have to be made, organizing a structured team program, and keeping track of personnel. Older coaches, without question, have the advantage here.
Where young coaches do have an edge are in FOUR key areas, as I have experienced. They are as follows:
Being able to relate to players -> Being relatively close in age to those that they coach, young coaches can relate to the players a little more precisely due to the fact that they understand their nature and lifestyle. After all, it wasn’t so long ago that young coaches were in the shoes of the players that they now guide and teach.
Being up-to-date on playing trends -> This is kind of a touchy one because even as a young coach, I personally utilize what most would deem to be ‘old-school’ ideologies when it comes to my coaching (e.g., tactics, training sessions, content delivery, etc). But, when it comes to little things such as playing styles, coaching styles, mannerisms, etc. I find that young coaches kind of give players that peace of mind and sense of ‘ease’, which is a huge positive for young people.
Effort -> This one will likely tick some people off, but whether we realize it or not, effort is relative. Someone might work 3 hours through the night and that might be incredibly taxing for them, while someone else might work 6 hours through the night and will laugh at the person who only worked 3 hours. Nevertheless, in spite of the relativeness that is acknowledged here, I have found that young coaches have a greater ‘drive’ when it comes to coaching. Sure, there are some older coaches who have the same drive that they had when they first started, but it’s a rare few. Here’s what I mean, and please, bare with me and try to understand – When you first start something, you are going to be gung-ho about it. You’ll do everything imaginable because you’ve just begun something you enjoy. But then, as time goes along, you get more comfortable and some of that effort gets put to the side because you naturally are going to repeat things that you’ve already done. Henceforth, some of that ‘drive’ gets diminished. However, for a young coach, because they have to prove themselves, they unrelentingly give that 100% effort that we just don’t see across the board with older coaches. So, in this respect, young coaches have an edge here, in my personal opinion. A big shoutout here to older coaches who put forth the same effort right now as they did when they first began their coaching careers.
Influence -> Imagine yourself being a young player again. You idolize people a little older than you and you say, “I can’t wait to play like him/her”. Young coaches, more often than not, have the ability to perform and play at an exceptionally high level. So, when it comes to demonstrating a drill or playing a game, the players are often in awe/admiring their young coaches who can perform so optimally and efficiently. Imagine having that kind of coach who is young, talented, and can do what you are aspiring to do? That sky-rockets a kids confidence, and not to mention, it gives them something to shoot for as a goal. This is a huge one.
The bottom line is that coaching comes down to a few simple things. The biggest one, in my personal opinion, is that regardless of age, if you’re a coach, no player will care about how much you know about the sport until they know that you care about them. So, in saying that, it doesn’t matter whether you’re 25 or 52 years old – It doesn’t take much to be a kind, respectful, and compassionate human being for the sake of your players.
The reasons that I listed above as to why young coaches are good for sports are valid and reasonable. We need more young people to get involved in coaching so that our future can continue to look bright. If we can get young people coaching at youth levels, their potential for coaching development is endless. I speak about this from the perspective of someone who is currently doing this alongside my entire coaching staff.
In order for this to happen, we must continue to make the world of coaching appealing, attractive, and entertaining. When someone sees something good, they will be intrigued. When someone likes the vision of something, they will want to find out more about it. When someone begins something, they will listen intently. It is at this point that we must help and foster young coaches by giving them what they need in order to be successful in their coaching journeys. Once we get something good, like a young coach, it will be important to help them.
And, it won’t be easy. This, because you’re always going to have naysayers. We’ve all heard it – “That coach is too young”; “That coach doesn’t know what they’re doing”; “That coach isn’t ready for this”. If we can offer the support to our young coaches, these words will be just that; words. It won’t affect them and it won’t cause them to turn away from coaching.