Just getting started as a youth coach? Well, you’re in for a wild ride my friend. Buckle up for a little bit of stress and maybe a few headaches… but most of all, a ton of fun. Being a youth coach is a rewarding experience, and not only will you have the chance to touch the lives of young people and help them on their journey in life, but you will also learn and grow as a coach and mentor yourself. Here are 6 tips to get you started as a youth coach newbie.
START WITH THE PARENTS
Successfully coaching a youth team starts with communicating your expectations and coaching guidelines to the parents. Before your first team practice, or even before your pre-season meeting with the kids, set up a parents meeting. Let the parents know what you expect from their kids and give them a preview of your coaching style. If the parents understand your style and are confident you will be a great coach and mentor to their children, your season will run smoothly.
KEEP IT SIMPLE
Don’t complicate things for the kids on your team. Sure, it’s important to teach the fundamentals of the sport and enforce the rules – but your coaching should focus on simple, basic concepts. For example: “keep your eye on the ball, work as a team, and come together as a group when you hear my whistle.” If you’ve set 3-5 basic “team rules” for the kids, you can achieve the results you want by working within each of those scenarios.
ENCOURAGEMENT OVER CORRECTION
As a youth coach, you will have to learn how to constructively criticize your players, and of course correct them when they perform incorrectly. But, if you focus on encouraging more than correcting, you will achieve great results. Kids respond greatly to encouragement, and if you are keeping their spirits up and giving them goals to work towards, the correction in the sport will happen naturally.
MAKE TIME FOR ONE-ON-ONES
As your youth team slowly gets better and is improving as a whole, make sure you make time for individual lessons. Coach each team player through their position and give them one-on-one attention. Each kid is different and will respond differently to your coaching style, so make sure to customize your approach to best fit the individual. If you’re giving everyone a one-on-one, no player will feel singled out.
TEACH THEM TO HAVE SOME GRIT
A lot of people fail to give kids enough credit – they baby them and set low expectations for them as a team player. During youth sports, you can teach kids resilience and how to deal with tough situations in life. When they are young it’s the time to teach kids how to deal with failure and how to get up when they fall down. Always remember that – kids are tough, so give them the credit they deserve.
KEEP THINGS POSITIVE
Probably the most important tip for being a youth coach is to stay positive. No matter how many losses or how many times your players fail – keep things positive. A loss and a failure should become a learning experience and help your team improve for the next time. If you keep this kind of attitude and encourage your kids to stay tough and enjoy playing the game, it will be a successful season.