Could You be a Grassroots Coach?

It is one of the hardest and, often, most thankless tasks around. You sacrifice time away from loved ones in the pursuit of doing the best for everyone else, plan and arrange sessions, arrive early and leave late. You will beat yourself up over every little mistake, your car boot will always be full of equipment and the game at the weekend makes or breaks your weekend.

Could you be a grassroots coach?

It certainly takes a special type of person to volunteer their time to coach any sport. Being a grassroots coach can be lonely, especially when it feels as though nothing is going right – and we aren’t exclusively talking about results. Coming away from a session that didn’t go to plan, despite putting the time in to prepare, can be disheartening, or losing a player because their love for the sport isn’t what it once was.

At some point or another, every grassroots coach will wonder why they do it and whether it is worth the hundreds of hours they dedicate. The truth is, though, that no matter how low you can feel the highs more than make up for it – and they are magical.

The Life of a Grassroots Coach

Most, if not all, grassroots coaches dedicate more time to their ‘hobby’ than they would care to admit. The job description may say an hour in the week and an hour or two at the weekend, but experienced coaches know that to be a lie. It is so much more.

Coaches live and breathe their sport, desperate to be the absolute best they can be for the boys and girls in their care. They want to put on the best sessions and develop their players better than anyone else all while ensuring they remain approachable.

Good coaches don’t stop at gaining the bare minimum qualifications, they have a thirst for knowledge which is why they attend courses and networking events and constantly liaise with other coaches to discuss and share ideas they can take away. All this comes out of their own time, which would otherwise be spent with friends and family.

If you aren’t willing to go above and beyond, you aren’t going to last very long in this game. It isn’t easy, especially if you have a family of your own, and the sacrifices you make won’t be seen by many. It’s simply what you do as a grassroots coach.

You don’t get paid and it’s not about winning trophies, though we all dream of seeing our players lift silverware for their efforts. Those not involved in grassroots sports just don’t understand why you give so much for what they see as very little – only you know that it is more than you can ever ask for.

Finding a Club

Clubs are always looking for willing volunteers to lend a hand. They aren’t expecting to find the next Pep Guardiola, Eddie Jones, or Bob Woolmer. The most important thing is that you are dedicated and reliable and, if so, clubs will be more than happy to support you along your coaching journey.

Grassroots clubs may post adverts on social media or in the local media, but just because they haven’t does not mean that they are not looking. Make the first move and get in contact, someone will pick up the message and they will be delighted to get you involved as soon as possible.

Generally, to begin all you will need is an in-date DBS certificate. You may be required to gain safeguarding and first-aid certificates, depending on your club’s policy and/or the qualifications of other coaches at the club (i.e. ensuring that at least one qualified first-aider is present).

The Rewards

Grassroots coaching is rewarding, not because you will fill your trophy cabinet with honour after honour, but because of the difference you will be making. Without volunteers, children are deprived of the opportunity to fall in love with sport and get active. Again, no one is expecting you to do anything more than provide a safe environment for players to experiment, make mistakes and learn.

The greatest reward isn’t the winning, it comes long after the result has been forgotten. It comes when you bump into one of your old players and they cannot hide a big grin when they recognise you and thank you for being their coach. Because of grassroots coaches, boys and girls learn so much more than how to play a sport, they learn how to make friends, to challenge themselves and to become a better person.

To conclude, yes, there will be times that you wonder why you do what you do. There will be disagreements and moments when you feel that nothing is going right, but you are learning just as much as your players are. It’s about staying committed, following your passion, and setting a good example to your players.

If you can give it your all and confidently say that you want to do it for the right reasons, then you could be a fantastic grassroots coach.

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