If coaching youth sports is new to you, it’s understandable for you to feel excited but nervous at the same time. You may feel that you still need direction to navigate what you suspect to be the complexities of coaching kids. Because while you may have background on the sport and may have even played it in your youth or as a hobby, knowing the sport is one thing but guiding people, particularly young athletes, how to play is a completely new challenge.

Many new coaches struggle with leading a team of young kids and find that this aspect of coaching is the most challenging. And some find it even harder to coach older kids like teens who may not always be the most cooperative. To find success as a coach, you’ll need to familiarize yourself with the coaching standards, beliefs, and philosophies.

Whether you are coaching young kids or teens, there are things that you should remember when helping develop athletic skills and strong relationships with their teammates that will ultimately help them improve their chances of winning in both life and sports:

Communicate with Parents

When you’re coaching youth sports, you’re not just dealing with the kids, but their parents as well. Communicating expectations with parents should happen from one to avoid any misunderstanding with parents. It’s natural for parents to want to be constantly updated on their child’s progress. However, parents who are too involved can often get in the way of their kid progressing.

Start with the Fundamentals

As a coach, it is your job to ensure that your kids know the basics. If you’re coaching a team of youth athletes that have competed before, go over the fundamentals briefly before moving onto more technical skills that will help them develop. Mental and physical maturity varies depending on age, and it’s also up to you to approach them with appropriately based on their level of technical and emotional understanding.

Have Fun and Be Enthusiastic

Coaches who have a win-at-all-costs mentality can quickly suck the fun out of the sport for everyone. Kids will become too competitive, and parents will worry that the sports is no longer fun for their child.

The best way for young athletes to learn a sport, develop sportsmanship, and improve their athletic skill is by having fun while working hard.

If your practices are nothing more than repetitive drills, your athletes will perceive the sport as a chore and get no fun out of it.

Give the kids a reason to love the sport by being enthusiastic about developing their skills. Remember that sports competitions are referred to as “games” for a reason.

Be Attentive

When you show your athletes that you are paying attention and care for their well-being, they’ll be able to approach you and tell you what they hope to achieve out playing sports. Take heed and use their feedback to make practices more productive.

As a coach, remember that your key responsibilities are to ensure the safety of your athletes by helping them develop skills that make them ready for competition. But overall, your job demands that you be the role model for good sportsmanship and camaraderie.