Confidence is King
With many young athletes there can be little difference in skill or ability. However these small differences can be the difference between a win and a loss. Instilling a strong sense of self belief and confidence in your players ability can give them the drive and push to go one step further than their opponent. Long term this will also reap many benefits for young players. Athletes who truly believe they can succeed will be more likely to keep playing the game and constantly push to win. So how do you instil confidence in your young players? Set realistic and age appropriate goals and give praise when it is deserved. Keep criticism constructive and allow players to make mistakes without punishment. Identify progress and applaud effort even when if results fall short.
Make Fun a Priority
Players should look forward to each training session and approach each with enthusiasm and willingness to learn. If training becomes a chore, it will soon become a demotivator. Keep training interesting by changing around the format of training sessions, throwing in fun competitive elements when possible. Put your players at the front of training, allowing them to vote for activities.
Let Kids be Kids
It’s important to recognise kids will have other commitments, whether they are social or other sports related. It’s unfair to expect your athletes to make every single training session, even during season. If something comes up and they can’t make it, let it go without punishment. Chances are if you are doing a good job as a coach they will be as devastated about missing it as you are.
Players will give 100% to a coach they have utmost trust in. You have to be able to sell a game plan to a player and make them trust that it will benefit them and the whole team. Trust can be difficult to build but it begins with showing interest in the player and establishing open lines of communication. Never underestimate the importance of building a relationship with every single player – even if you think they might not be the strongest player. Every player has the potential to make or break a team.
Building relationships between players is equally as important. Players must be able to trust each other and believe they each have the interests of the team at whole at heart. Every coach knows that a team can be made up of brilliant players individually but unless they are able to work well together, it is a waste of talent. When results fall short make sure players take collective responsibility.