13 Things a High School Coach Won’t Tell You

These insider tips from high school coaches across the country are guaranteed to improve your game watching experience and give you a new appreciation for the tough world of high school sports.

By Michelle Crouch
Also in Reader's Digest Magazine October 2013
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Every coach says "I don't have favorites."

But we do. They're the ones who show up to practice on time and work hard.

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Your child doesn't want you to be an expert in his sport.

I believe a big reason lacrosse has become so popular is that the kids know their parents don’t understand the game, so all Mom and Dad can do is watch the match. 

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Your kid get cut from one team?

Encourage him to participate in something that doesn't have cuts, like track or cross-country. It’s a great way to get in shape for other sports, and a lot of kids end up loving it.

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We put in at least 20 hours a week as coaches in addition to other full-time jobs.

We plan practices, watch film, fill out paperwork, and sort out drama with kids and parents. A lot of us also run a website or a concession stand and work with a booster club to raise money for the team. Most of us get paid only a few thousand dollars per season. But it’s worth it to see the kids improve.

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Sometimes I give a player at the bottom of the roster hope that he may play, even though he probably never will.

You need those players on the team in case your best ones can’t play, and you need them to build your team for the future. Plus, you don’t want them to think there’s no way they can help. 

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It's really tough to keep kids focused these days.

I’ve had players who were text messaging in the locker room before the game. Last year, I kicked a player out of practice because he had his cell phone in his sock. 

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Win or lose, tell your child how much you enjoyed watching her play rather than reliving every minute of the game.

I once found a kid shooting baskets in an almost-dark gym after a game. She said she was waiting as long as she could to go home so maybe her father would be in bed and she wouldn’t have to talk about the game. 

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When I was in school, I played three different sports.

To be competitive these days, kids have to pick one sport when they’re young and play all year. 

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When we get our coaching certification, they stress choosing our words carefully.

We have to constantly worry about saying something that could get misconstrued in the retelling. So I talk as though I have a camera on me at all times. 

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Want to work with your child at home?

It's better to practice what she already knows rather than trying to teach her something new. I spend a lot of time correcting things you’re teaching wrong.

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As soon as a player I'm coaching starts to get good, the private schools come calling.

They’ll promise him a full scholarship and all sorts of perks, and we lose players. That’s tough. 

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I hate it when kids say "I can't."

That drives me nuts. You can. Just try.

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At the end of every season, I'm always ready to quit.

Other coaches tell me the same thing. We’re just so sick of dealing with the drama, the practices, the time commitment, and everything else that comes with the season. But by the next year, our love of the sport and the kids always draws us back in. 

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