Youth Coaching - Keeping Your Sanity

Your practices should be focused, fun and full of positive feedback. You shouldn't have to hold two hour marathon practices, although once in awhile it doesn't hurt to have a longer practice.

By focused I mean you should know exactly what you want to accomplish before you get to the field or gym. You should know what skills your are going to work on and for how long. This will allow you to get more done in a shorter period of time and in addition your players won't be left standing around, which usually leads to mis-behaving.

By fun I don't mean to just let the kids run around and do what they want. I think you can be disciplined and still have fun. For some children this may take their parent stepping in and discouraging the horse play. Encourage your parents to be involved. Let them know that behavior that is distracting to the team will not be tolerated. If you have a parent that has a problem with this, ask them if they would allow this type of behavior if their child was taking piano lessons or dance lessons. I have struggled with parents on my younger teams think that we are being to hard on the children. Once I have explained my position is this manner I have never had a parent not support from that point forward. It doesn't mean the child can't have fun and learn, it means that the child has to be disciplined in order to learn and in the process will get even more enjoyment out of a sport that they have learned to play well.

Positive feedback can be your biggest weapon. Once you start look for the postive things that the kids do and pointing it out to all of the players you will be amazed at how hard everyone starts working so that they can hear you praise them.

Now you may be saying, "how is it that I am going to discipline and give positive feedback at the same time?" You accomplish this as follows; Don't waste time getting after the kids that are horsing around again and again. Tell them once to stop, after that, sit them down. If it's necessary sit them with a parent or another coach, then return your focus to the positive things the rest of the team are accomplishing. Make sure that everyone can hear you pointing out the positive things you see. After a few minutes of sitting on the side, ask the child who was disciplined, if they are ready to behave, and let them return to the team activities.

If you come to practice prepared with a plan, you disipline consitently and fairly, and you give positive feedback, you will find that your practices are much more enjoyable, your team will work harder to accomplish their goals and their skill level will be much higher by the end of the season.


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