JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. - When you hear the word 'coach,' what is the first thought that comes to mind? The most common answer is someone who mentors and guides people to succeed.
The volunteer coaches in the Child, Youth and School Services Youth Sports program provide the children of Joint Base Lewis-McChord with instruction, direction, and motivation while building each child's confidence and self-esteem.
"The coaches teach children the basics of a sport while ensuring they are having fun," said Cynthia Williams-Patnoe, CYSS Sports director. "The volunteer coaches we get are interested in working with children and are looking to give back to the community."
Each person who volunteers must complete two tasks before coaching children. The first is an extensive background check which looks for anything which could create a negative environment for the children.
The second is the coach must be certified by the National Youth Sports Coaches Association. The NYSCA's goal is to ensure every child who puts on a uniform has a safe, positive and rewarding experience.
NYSCA highlights the importance of volunteer coaches in a child's sports participation. CYSS used an instructional video during the coaching class featuring several prominent professional and university coaches. It stated the mentorship and attitude of the coach impacts a child to either embrace the sport or walk away completely.
"Coaches are viewed as role models, especially in a sport the child loves," said Kathleen Powell, volunteer soccer coach. "They may not realize it, but coaches have a ton of influence over children. If a coach tells them something, they listen. Children want to please; they want their coach to be proud of them like a parent is."
Just as a parent would, coaches teach lessons that emphasize children to grow not only in sports, but in life also.
The NYSCA interviewed several prestigious coaches on various tips and ways to assist volunteers in their coaching process for the instructional video. Lovie Smith, Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach, stated he always goes back to the golden rule, treat others how you want to be treated.
"I listen to the guys on the field instead of talking down to them," he said. "I think of coaching as teaching. All the great teachers I've had have given me knowledge without raising their voice. You want someone to help you, not yell at you."
Powell explained the examples of good sportsmanship can have an impact on players and the games played, and vice versa. Sports can cause competitive people, whether playing or spectating, to become angry and possibly physical.
A study by Cheryl Danilewicz from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas in 2012 showed 29 percent of people witnessed a physical confrontation at a youth sporting event. Nearly 80 percent responded having witnessed a verbal altercation between the coaches, parents and officials.
According to the NYSCA, this happens when a volunteer coach is not performing to a level similar to what they see on television. The children's mistakes get magnified because the coach's expectations are too large. It is OK for mistakes to happen in a youth game.
The same study also showed a large number of parents have seen a coach yelling at their child for making a mistake.
If a coach demonstrates good behavior and sportsmanship, the players will start to display the same. The same goes in the other direction.
"As long as the volunteer coach doesn't base his players' effectiveness from the scoreboard, you can build confidence in every player," Powell said. "The most exciting thing to see is the players start with zero concept of the game and keep improving throughout the season."
Powell uses the same approach in her coaching style for her and her husband's soccer team. Throughout practices, she might notice one of her players getting frustrated from not performing a drill correctly. She calmly asks the player what the trouble is and, depending on the issue, proposes an alternate method to completing the drill.
During the video, NYSCA stated all coaches, regardless of level of play, must connect with their players and genuinely care about them to encourage progression.
Mike Krzyzewski, the men's basketball head coach at Duke University, said in the video the players will believe what you say when they experience a down moment from the trust built upon first meeting.
"Having a good relationship with the players, being positive and honest the first time a coach talks to players, allows for growth," he said. "Instead of waiting until the coach is already frustrated to address issues."
Coaches deal with challenges ranging from frustrated players to parents overruling their position during any season, but they must always remember to demonstrate good sportsmanship for their team and the parents.
"The best way coaches can teach sportsmanship is by how they act and what they say," said Krzyzewski. "Be humble no matter the outcome. If you lose, take responsibility and give credit to the team who won."
Powell ensures she shows what right looks like in everything she does.
"I know I am always walking in a leadership role," she said. "If I demonstrate kindness and respect to my players, then I will get it back from my players and, hopefully, it spreads to others as well."