6 Recommendations for Coaching Youth from the Positive Coaching Alliance

6 Recommendations for Coaching Youth from the Positive Coaching Alliance

*This post may contain affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases.

6 Recommendations for Coaching Youth from the Positive Coaching Alliance
Photo credit to shapeamerica.org

Positive Coaching Alliance is an organization committed to providing life lessons through youth sports. The high-pressure environment of today’s youth sports can be very stressful for athletes and many need some helpful tips for coping with pressure.
Many youth athletes report experiencing low self-esteem, anxiety, and depression due to the demands of participating in sports. These negative thoughts and feelings can quickly escalate and be difficult to manage. Positive Coaching Alliance provides a wealth of resources and information on how parents, coaches, and sports administrators can provide a positive and safe haven for youth athletes. The organization reaches over 8.6 million youth and the mission and values are championed by star professional athletes like Brandi Chastain and Doc Rivers. Below are some of the most valuable recommendations for building a positive culture in youth sports.

6 Recommendations

1. Focus on Effort

Effort should be the most important element of any conversation. Not everyone can win every game or get first in every contest. Children (and adults) who pursue giving 100 percent effort can experience more satisfaction and well-being even if the score indicates they lost. The effort is something that can be individually controlled and gives athletes the ability to more directly influence the situation. In addition, athletes who are coached to focus on effort will experience reduced anxiety and increasedself-confidencee. Athletes who learn this valuable skill will experience positive self-esteem and a can-do attitude.
football coach with young players
Photo credit to Pinterest

2. Fill Emotional Tanks

Everyone enjoys hearing positive comments. For young athletes, praise and recognition are important for reinforcing not only positive skill development but also better mental health. Parents and coaches should focus on filling the emotional tanks of their young athletes by offering positive praises on a regular basis.

Leaders in the Positive Coaching Alliance recommend that parents and coaches should offer five praises for every one critique. This ensures that the ratio leans heavily in the direction of positive. The organization also warns that any praises must be direct and truthful as children can recognize insincere compliments. Regardless, engaging in positive dialogue and offering regular praise can have a tremendous impact on the self esteem and confidence of youth athletes.

3. Model Good Behavior

Parents and coaches are role models. Children are very observant and will learn from the behavior of the adults in their lives. As such, it’s extremely important that parents and coaches model positive behavior. Parents and coaches should respect others and encourage their children to do the same. Even if they do not agree with a call or with a line-up decision, they should still express support and understanding. This step ensures that the athletic environment remains safe for the children. If children experience hostility in sports they are at risk for dropping out of athletics altogether and are more susceptible to engaging in the future risky behavior.
Positive Coaching Alliance uses the acronym ROOTS to demonstrate this concept of all-encompassing respect. ROOTS stands for respect for rules, officials, opponents, team, and self. Learning to respect others at the most difficult times is something a child will benefit from in their personal and professional lives. Respect is a life-long lesson worth learning and it is important that parents and coaches model this behavior.
Coaching Youth from the Positive Coaching Alliance
Photo credit to In The Mind of the Game

4. Engage in Open Dialogue

Learning how to communicate in an honest and open way is an extremely important lesson. Children who continually feel that the conversation is dominated by an adult will never learn how to speak up or express emotion. As a result, it can lead to frustration, anxiety and unhappiness. Positive Coaching Alliance recommends that parents ask open-ended questions after each game or match. This ensures the child is able to offer their own perspective on the day. For example regardless of the outcome ask children such questions as: How was the game for you or what are your thoughts about today? Both of these are open-ended questions and the child can lead the way in terms of what gets discussed.
This step not only builds the level of trust between parent/coach and player, but it also teaches analytical and communication skills. Athletes will learn a valuable lesson in self-reflection and will be able to make adjustments in other aspects of their lives. This is something that will be important in college, work, and all interpersonal relationships.

coach with basketball players on the court
Photo credit to Pinterest

5. Develop Routines

Game time routines are important for both youth and adults. Routine keeps people busy and focused and has huge psychological benefits. Routines prior to a game help youth know what to expect and what to do when they arrive to a game or practice. This can help children relax since routines are predictable. Encouraging children to develop these habits at an early age will impact them in the future. Some research indicates that having pre-performance routines has a positive relationship with overall performance. Obviously, parents and coaches will want to ensure their athlete’s game time routine is healthy and appropriate, but encouraging the development of this habit is a valuable life-long lesson.

6. Surround Yourself with Good People

One way to build positive relationships and a positive culture is by having a  “culture keeper”. The culture keeper is responsible for influencing others and maintaining a positive youth sports environment. The culture keeper recruits allies and takes a stand against negative behaviors and words. Overall, it is extremely important for youth (and adults) to choose friends who help provide a supportive and positive environment. In the end, the aim is to build positive cultures for youth so sports can remain a place for fun and a healthy means to build self confidence.


Recent Posts