It takes a special kind of person to coach a large group of young players. Many adults feel overwhelmed if they were left in charge of just two to three kids; so imagine managing over a dozen children at a time.
And they’re not just a bunch of kids who are going to sit quietly in the library; these are children who have the mindset that they are on recess break. They are amped up and ready to run around the field and show off their skills to their teammates.
Experienced youth league coaches have learned how to deal with young players and how to effectively communicate with them. It starts with gaining their trust and earning their respect. Here are 3 tips to properly communicate with young players to get them to not only listen but to open up to you:
- Keep it Simple
Games have a lot of rules and techniques, and it’s understandable that the average 8 year old may be frustrated with trying to keep up with all of them. Keep it light and manageable by introducing the kids to the fundamentals before anything else. The rest will follow over time.
Overwhelm the child with too much too soon, and you risk losing their interest in the game.
With every practice, you’ll be able to gauge when they are ready to move to the next step. And you can adjust as the days go by.
- Positive Reinforcement
Much like adults, kids feed off positivity and compliments. They’re inspired to keep doing well when they know that their efforts are being recognized. Kids are much more receptive to positive reinforcement and more likely to open up their mind to constructive feedback. Focus on the positive and reinforce the good.
Praise them on good performances the moment you see it. Compliment them on their efforts. If you notice that they start to act frustrated, take them aside. Have them take a deep breath and tell them how proud you are to see they’re not giving up. And if you do see one of your athletes who seems like they have given up, be genuine in your approach when you ask them what’s wrong and how you can help.
- Get To Know Your Players Individually
You may think it’s impossible to set each child aside and get to know their individual strengths and weaknesses. A good coach who is dedicated can absolutely do this.
And when you speak to your athletes one-on-one, don’t give them generic instructions or cliched encouragement. Be specific and prove that you have been paying attention to their unique needs. Each player on your team plays a special role, and they need to be made aware of that.
If you’re not quite used to communicating with young kids yet, you’ll quickly discover that their enthusiasm is infectious. And because kids are honest (often, too honest), they will probably have no hesitations in pointing out where you could improve as a coach or what it is they need from you.