For Coaches
Ending practices the right way every day

Ending practices the right way every day


By Greg Bach

While coaches devote a lot of time and planning to starting practices off with high energy and a positive tone, how those sessions conclude are equally important.

It’s why University of Tulsa football coach Philip Montgomery places a lot of emphasis on ending practices the right way, every day.

He wants his players – every single one of them – taking positive messages with them as they’re exiting the field.

And he reminds his staff every day to make sure it happens.

“What I talk to our coaches about each and every day is making sure that as we’re leaving the field – especially the kid who you had to get on multiple times in practice – I want them to go put their arm around that kid’s neck and I want them to tell him something good that he did that day,” Montgomery says. “So many times they’re walking off the field and they’re leaving with negative feelings and I want to make sure that the last thing they remember as they walk off the field is something positive that our coaches have found.”

Montgomery is one of 50 coaches featured in SECRETS OF SUCCESSFUL COACHING, a book written by the National Alliance for Youth Sports.


There are lots of options to choose from: it could be the player’s work ethic, the energy he competes with, the way he encourages teammates, or the improvement he’s made learning a new skill.

“You can find something positive every day to say to each and every kid,” Montgomery says. “He may have had his worst practice ever but you can tell him, ‘Hey, I see that you are trying, I see that you are working hard and not loafing.’ Find something positive to say about that young player.”

Regardless of the youth sport that you coach, apply Montgomery’s approach to your team to help forge a more confident group of players.

Many volunteer youth sports coaches may only see their team a couple times a week, with a Saturday morning game mixed in. So, if young athletes are climbing into the family minivan with unpleasant thoughts swirling in their head over their practice performance, those negative feelings can marinate in their head for days.

That leads to corroded confidence and athletes questioning their abilities.  

When youngsters head home with positive messages from their coach, delivered at the end of practice, even if they didn’t perform as they had hoped they’ll likely return for the next practice with energy and enthusiasm because they know the coach believes in them.

So, plan your team’s exit strategy for sending players home in a positive frame of mind.

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