The Psychology of Coaching Youth Sports

Here’s one for the amateur coaches – an article on the psychology of coaching youth sports. If you are a professional life coach, executive coach, or even athletic coach, you can sit this one out.

Psychology of Coaching Youth
Psychology of Coaching Youth – Cathy Yeulet © 123RF.com

There is Nothing More Rewarding Than Coaching Youth Sports

If you like working after you get home from work, dealing with angry and insensitive adults, navigating the balance between winning and giving everyone an equal chance, and like doing all this for free, then welcome to the world of youth coaching. Though the list of negatives is long and you don’t get paid (unless you work for a competitive team where some of the coaches get paid), there really is nothing more rewarding than volunteering to coach youth sports.

The Psychology of Coaching Youth Sports

A few things make the experience more rewarding for the children, and for most adults. Making sure the psychology of your coaching is aligned with these will make the experience more positive for you, the parents, and most importantly, the children.

  • Make sure to create a positive environment where children can develop a love of sports and healthy competition.
  • Instill a sense of fun and playfulness which children can associate with activity, sports, and exercise. It’s easy to see how this will help them for the remainder of their lives.
  • Teach new skills, both for the sport being coached (and played) and for dealing with success and failure.
  • Help develop a sense of teamwork, another skill that will be highly beneficial for the remainder of their lives.
  • The psychology of coaching youth sports also is about fostering relationships – both with their peers and respectful ones with adults (the coaches, the referees, the other parents, the other teams’ coaches).

The Psychology of Building Character

As a coach, even if only for a few months, you are helping to shape and build a child’s character. Your psyche when coaching youth sports players matters. How do you react when adversity hits? How do you act when a parent criticizes you? How do you react when a kid disobeys you or disrespects a teammate, a coach, or a referee? Children are far more observant than you think, and your specific psychology of coaching youth sports will help them develop their character. Do the rights things, and you will be a positive role model. Do too many of the wrong things, and you may give them excuses to act or react a certain way in the future.

4 Quick Tips to help You Be a Better Youth Sports Coach

Put these four tips into your personal psychology of coaching youth sports, you may not win more games, but you will have a positive influence on the children you coach.

  • Watch what you say. Words matter and kids will hear more than you think. Bad words, negative descriptions, and insulting reactions to others are all anathema to building character in the children you coach.
  • Lower expectations. Kids are learning how to play, how to compete, and how to work as a team. Give them time and keep expectations low.
  • Emphasize process over results. When you emphasize the process and the improvement over wins, you may not hold the trophy at the end, but you’ll be in the hearts of everyone you coach.
  • You can criticize, but always do it constructively and make sure positive statements exceed negative ones by at least five to one.

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Fred Philips
Business Coach
Writing Team, Coaches Training Blog Community

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