“Make sure that those who aren’t quite as talented feel like they can contribute,” Theismann says. “They can become really something special in time. What we are in our youth isn’t necessarily what we will become later on or as an adult.”
Zero in on the basics: “When you build a house you build the foundation and then you put the roof on and then you do the exterior and then you do the interior,” Theismann says. “It’s the same kind of a process when you are dealing with young children. You have to assume that they know nothing. As a coach it’s really important to spend a little time and talk to someone about the fundamentals of coaching.”
Pay attention to what works with each child: “Just like I have three children and I have to talk to them all differently, not every approach is effective or good for every child on the team,” Theismann says. “So if you are taking on the responsibility of coaching youth you should also understand the obligation that you have also become the parent of 15 or 20 kids, or however large the group is, and that these are very impressionable children.”
Keep a positive tone in your voice: “It’s never what you say to someone, it’s how you say things to people that matter,” Theismann says.
Create fun competitions: Kids, especially at the older levels, love to compete and put their skills to use against their teammates. Devise some creative and fun approaches to challenge the kids. For example, have the offensive and defensive linemen run pass routes against each other, or have shuttle races between the running backs and wide receivers.
Teach discipline: Don’t overlook the little things, such as stressing the importance that in the huddle players are quiet and listen to the call that is being made.
Enjoy success: Whenever you’re introducing a new skill keep it simple and give the kids plenty of chances to be successful performing it and building their confidence before you increase the difficulty. “Working with kids at a very young age it’s important that they enjoy success,” Theismann says.