1. Having fun before having to win
Youth players in sports like to win, you don’t have to emphasize this as a coach. Most of all they want to have a good and pleasant play/training. The fun is ‘in the sport’ and in experience progress during the season. Furthermore children who have positive experiences with sport, are more willing to go on with sport when they are older.
2. Coach a ‘growth mindset’
In a growth mindset, people believe that their most basic abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work—brains and talent are just the starting point. Effort is the path of mastery, instead of a waste of time. Success of others is inspiration, instead of a threat. Feedback: ‘You showed great commitment!’ ‘That went well, you must have done a lot of practise’
3. Coach is also educator
Of course you train techniques, tactics etc.; but when the locker room is a mess, you are the ‘relacer’ of the parents of the boys and girls of your team. You cannot look away when there is some bullying etc.
4. Go for achievement instead of results
Personal growth of players ability should come first. The process of unleashing talent (every child has natural abilities!) is more important than the result, even if the a game is important for champignonship. Try to get your players out of their comfort zone; the learning will take place in the stretch zone. Ask them what will help them to come out of their comfort zone; some ‘friendly pressing’ is allowed (‘try!; making mistakes is part of becoming better’)
5. Have a ‘special eye and ear’ for group dynamics
The first 4 weeks of a new group the pecking order will take place. That means that you as a coach can adjust in the first weeks. As a coach your can set your values and standards. After a few month it will be difficult to reset.
6. Coach and train resilience, resourcefulness and reflectiveness
Train perseverance, how to focus, imagination (creative solutions) and strategic aspects of your sport. Ask them what will help them, talk about strategies which they can apply if they don’t know what to do: don’t give solutions, but let them think and create their own solutions. During the game you as a coach are behind the touch line; they have to solve it between the lines. It will help to develop their self regulation, a very import aspect in becoming better than you were yesterday. Ask: What would have made that easier? How could you help someone els do that? How could you make that harder for yourself etc?
7. You are a role model
Beware of your verbal AND non verbal messages you send when you are coaching. The way you react, demonstrate and ‘learn aloud’ will be noticed by your youth players. Good examples will be imitated: the bad ones also..Positive and enthusiastic coaches will meet positive and enthusiastic players!
Claxton, G. (2012) The learning powered school
Coyle, D. (2012) The little book of talent:52 tips for improving your skills
Dweck, C. (2007) Mindset
Gladwell, M. (2009) Outliers