By Greg Bach
Coaching young athletes requires lots of passion, encouraging words, and well-plotted goals for driving development and elevating enjoyment.
If those elements aren’t a part of all your practices, you run a big risk of the season veering off course.
“I’m very goal-oriented and I give my athletes goals all the time,” says Patrick Chambers, the head men’s basketball coach at Penn State University. “If you’re not goal-oriented at a younger age, you’re just wandering in the woods. You’re a ship in the middle of the ocean without a captain. You need some type of direction.”
When coaches can set realistic goals for kids it helps reinforce that all-important mindset that working hard creates opportunities for improving and developing.
“Give them something to think about and strive for every day,” Chambers says. “Help them set goals.”
And when those goals are in place, be sure to talk to your athletes about maintaining a positive frame of mind while pursuing them.
“Positive thoughts equal positive outcomes,” Chambers says. “I live by that. If you have a negative thought, you’re never going to get a positive outcome.”
Those positive outcomes – no matter how big or small – deserve praise and recognition, too. Remember, a coach’s well-timed words of encouragement are devoured by kids, fueling them to work even harder to keep that recognition coming their way.
Chambers is a big advocate of doing that at his level, too. He wants his players to know that he sees them performing well.
“I’m going to applaud and make sure the entire gym knows when they do something well,” he says.
Chambers is one of 50 coaches featured in SECRETS OF SUCCESSFUL COACHING, written by the National Alliance for Youth Sports, which features tips and insights from well-known professional and college coaches, and top athletes who now coach.
The book can be purchased through the Square One Publishers website, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or through your local bookstore.
Miles Simon – former youth basketball coach, current Los Angeles Lakers assistant coach and the Most Outstanding Player at the 1997 Final Four in leading Arizona to the national championship – shares tips for helping your young players have a rewarding season
Miami Heat coach Erik Spoelstra on teaching young athletes the value of leading, working together and supporting everyone on the team
Traci Callahan, professional beach volleyball player and youth coach, on the value of providing honest feedback to young players to forge connections, drive development and deliver rewarding seasons
During these unprecedented times coaches still play an all-important role in their young athletes’ lives. Use these tips from well-known psychologist Dr. Peter Scales to stay connected, involved and help players be ready once seasons resume.