Coaching (like most things) is its best when it comes naturally.

Leadership is obviously involved. A coach without leadership qualities is like a ship with holes in it. Sure, the ship will go, but only for a while. Then it is sunk.

I bring this up because, we're starting a new year in high school sports and there are surely a few new coaching names and faces in town. Congratulations to them. Becoming a coach in high school isn't easy. Those coaches will try to put their stamp on their new programs, and good for them.

However, there are seven tips I'd give new coaches as they enter the fray. You can also call them seven reminders that veteran coaches should remember as we embark on a new season.

1.) Don't change just for change's sake. If you change something, make sure it has a purpose. Most coaches know this, but if you're trying to be "innovative" without having tried it first, save it for the kitchen.

2.) Nothing beats preparation. It seems obvious, but the team who is most prepared will win. Bar none, hands down, always. I had a football coach in high school that prided himself on getting to know our team and every other team that we could (note: COULD) play. Our record in my four years in high school? 40-5.

3.) Encourage, don't downgrade. Nothing hurts a high school athlete like being put down. Nothing hurts a high school KID like being put down. The more confident he or she is, they better he or she is. Keep that in mind.

4.) Remember that academics are important too. Most coaches are teachers. This shouldn't be a problem.

5.) Keep everyone involved. This means freshmen, junior varsity and varsity. You never know when that last player off the bench will be needed. The more ready a player is to play, the better that player will play when the spotlight is shined on him or her.

6.) Practice is important. This means practicing every day is important. Practice with a purpose and promote good practicing habits. I know it isn't easy with high school students, but most importantly:

7.) Be positive, whether you win or lose. It can be difficult when a season is going south fast to stay up, but the best coaches are eternal optimists.

If you follow these tips, you'll probably be OK. If you do these things, you'll nurture the talent you have and make it better.

If you inspire kids to do great things, then you're better than most. Just remember to have fun and it'll all come naturally.

And that's the most important thing.