Most of the times, an error on the field/court is usually the fault of the youth athlete. Maybe they dropped a pass, missed the cutoff man, and ran the play wrong or some other technical mistake. Learning how to admit fault is step one, learning how to learn and grow from their mistake is step two and an important life skill that youth sports can teach. However, youth athletes aren’t the only ones learning and making mistakes on the field. As much as we’d like to believe that all sports coaches, from the very top of the professional arena to the local t-ball league, are experts, the truth is that even the best coaches are not infallible. The question for a coach then is—can you admit when you’re the one who made the mistake?
Some bad youth sports coaches have too much of an ego to admit that they are at fault, perhaps they called the wrong play for the situation, so they place the blame on their team. This can really undermine the confidence of your players; especially if they did everything they were supposed to and executed the play perfectly. They might start to doubt themselves and their abilities as athletes. If your players are old and sports savvy enough to know that it wasn’t their fault, trying to blame them might cause your team to lose respect for you as a coach. Trying to win back your team’s respect is a hard battle when admitting you called the wrong play in the first place might have actually deepened their respect for you!
Some youth sports coaches, especially new coaches, feel an immense amount of pressure to be perfect. Maybe they are worried about what the team parents will say, or their players will think, or maybe they just put all the pressure on themselves to “get it right.” But it’s important to practice what you preach! Think of all the times you’ve told your team that it’s ok to make a mistake, that errors and fumbles and flops are going to happen—and there is nothing wrong with that! Youth sports is supposed to be about teaching young players the fundamental skills they need to carry them through the rest of their sports career, however long that may be. Along the way there is bound to be learning curve and sometimes you don’t “get it right.” That’s nothing to be ashamed of. Coaches sometimes need to listen to their own advice and not be so worried about making a mistake! It doesn’t make you any less of a great coach, it just means you’re human.