This summer, I’m hoping to write a lot more about coaching youth. It’s an area where I’ve got a lot to learn, and it’d be sweet to get people talking about their best ideas and practices. I recently wrote a story for the USA Ultimate magazine about the ultimate program at HB Woodlawn, a school in Arlington, Virginia, so be on the lookout for that.
For now, check Anna Nazarov’s interview with Jordan Rose, the Bay Area Disc Association’s Youth Director. A few take home points from the article that I’ve also seen while hanging around at HB:
- “If the coaches can’t dedicate enough time, or the schools don’t care that much… teams don’t achieve their potential. They remain recreational and a two tiered system begins to develop, where one team is learning how to run hard, how to pivot and throw a flick (with one or two highly talented kids leading them), while another one is working on more advanced stuff like the trap zone and an effective horizontal stack.”
- “If your kids are having fun and developing a disc culture, then gradually the more athletic ones, the ones with previous skills and experience, they start coming too. And then you know you stand a chance against the established teams.”
- “I really hope you don’t have to be an elite player to become an elite coach!”
The first two points aren’t too different from the college level. When teams have dedicated coaches and organizers, fundamentals are reinforced more easily so that advanced aspects of the game can get more attention. Also, though cultures vary, it remains that good players tend to show up because the team they’re coming to has one they enjoy.
The third point is extremely important. There’s a perception that youth coaches have to be elite players. If anything, it’s ideal that they are teachers because their schedules and skill sets are shaped for working with kids, but bottom line, it’s much more beneficial for a coach to be able to manage individual and team dynamics than it is for them to be a great player.