Youth Sports Coach – Watch What You Say

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Volunteering to coach youth sports can be one of the most rewarding experiences in your life. It is a privilege to spend time teaching, coaching and mentoring youngsters in one of the most critical stages of their mental and physical development. Many kids do not have positive role models in their life. Many kids do not get the attention and the discipline that they need and desire. The main thing I want to discus today is the importance of thinking before you speak and the fact that your words greatly affect the self esteem of your players. Many coaches fail to remember that what a coach says can have long term positive or negative effects on a player. All youth coaches should remember these points regardless of which sport that they coach.

What you say can have long term positive or negative effects on a player.  It is a coach’s job and responsibility to see, identify, and correct bad player habits, mechanics and incorrect actions and behavior. Coaches should use an approach in such times that is constructive and that produces positive results. There is absolutely nothing wrong with a coach verbalizes displeasure when a player does something wrong as long as it is done professionally and compassionately. What is most important is that if you tell a player when something is done wrong, always make a point to tell that player as soon as possible positive feedback praising something that the player does right.

Maintaining a balance between correction and praising is one of the greatest attributes of a good youth coach. Coaches should always take a moment and think before they speak what is on their mind. Sometimes coaches say something that they wish many times over, that they had not. Once you say something to a player, the damage is done. Regardless of what you do or say, that child will always remember the hurt and embarrassment. Words of praise build confidence and self esteem. A coach’s words of praise and kindness are sometimes the only positive words a player hears outside of school and church.

3 Important Points to remember:

1. Praise Every Player at Least Once Every Day – Kids look up to you. They hear every word that you say. They take every word that you say to the “heart”. Always strive to find a reason to praise every player at least once or more during every game or practice. Don’t make it false praise because kids are too smart. They know when you are sincere or not sincere in your praise.

2. Maintain a Healthy Balance – Make sure that when you correct a player for poor execution of a skill, drill or action, that you praise that player later when a job is well done. If all the kid hears are negative comments one right after another, that kids is going to eventually “tune you out”. Keep a healthy balance between your words of correction and your words of praise. Maintaining a positive attitude and a positive approach when correcting bad execution requires a high level of patience. Patience is another valuable attribute of good youth sports coaches.

3. Maintain Your Composure – Think Before You Speak – You can never take words back. Once they are said, they are said! Take a minute to think before you speak when you are irritated and displeased. Words spoken out of anger often come out wrong and have the opposite effect on a player or team than you wished for. If you want your team to play and perform with composure then you must be an example or role model. If you “lose it” every time something goes bad then why should your players not do the same. Be calm and composed at all times. Players and teams emulate the behavior of their coach. If he is calm and collected when the pressure is on, they will tend to be also.

I hope that you find this article useful and informative. Good luck to you and your team, Coach Nick Dixon.