You do not learn about leadership in the classroom. And, you do not learn it on the field. But it isn’t inherent ability athletes are born with, and both coaches and parents should look to teach young athletes to become leaders. Here’s how to do it through youth sports.
- Personalities Change
If your young athlete isn’t a natural leader, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t teach them leadership skills. The personality changes over time, and the soft skills they learn now will come in handy once the perfect opportunity presents itself. All they might be looking for is a situation where they can come through for the team.
- Leadership Requires a Familiar Environment
Leadership in youth sports associates with kids’ self-confidence. And that relies on making decisions and taking on responsibility in a familiar environment. You can’t expect your athlete to become a leader if they have only started playing for a new team. It’s going to take some time.
- Ability Isn’t a Sign of Great Leaders
Coaches often select players with the best ability to lead the team. That’s a mistake. Talent alone can’t win over the hearts and minds of the team. Self-confidence, determination, communication, drive, and empathy on the other hand can.
- Encourage Athletes to Make Decisions Themselves
Decision-making is a critical leadership trait. But making the best decisions in every situation isn’t an inherent skill. It’s crucial to give young athletes enough space to learn this for themselves. It might not be the best decision the first time, nor the second time, but being a good leader means knowing how to learn from your mistakes.
- Provide Athletes with Decision-Making Opportunities
Being able to make decisions also involves having an opportunity to make such a decision. Youth club coaches should always try and provide each player with at least one chance to decide for the whole team.
For example, in football, you might allow the QB to do a play at the start of the match, and an RB at the end of the game. The experience will make their individual in-game decisions much more successful.
- Encourage Academic Achievement
Reading will foster creativity and imagination in people. A key trait among leaders who need to find a creative solution to a challenge and make the whole team see it as an opportunity. Encouraging young athletes to focus on academic achievements will increase their capacity to observe, learn and be creative in the sports field.
- Teach Young Athletes to Lead by Example
Athletes are inclined to follow leaders who show sportsmanship and integrity and are more agreeable, humble, and aware of the needs of others. And these soft skills can be taught among young athletes.
Encourage kids to lead by example. And as a coach or parent, you should do the same. Inspire these leadership qualities in young athletes by demonstrating them yourself at home or during practice. Kids look to adults for guidance, and if you become a good role model, you will be able to teach them almost anything.
- Encourage Perseverance
A good team captain knows when to quit, and when to give 120% to motivate his teammates to do the same. Perseverance is a critical leadership trait as it drives people via deeds rather than words. If a team sees there captain struggling to carry the whole team on his back, they are far more likely to look inwards to produce a performance that will help him out.
Contact us at League Network if you want to learn about how we encourage young athletes to become leaders in their teams.