What Impact Do Coaches Have On The Development Of Youth Athletes?

The Role of Coaching Youth:

The U.S. Youth Soccer Association notes that six of the top seven reasons that youth quit sports are adult-influenced behavior.  As a coach of youth my role impacts how they feel about themselves as a young athlete and as an individual.  My job as a coach is to serve as an everyday role model and to make training a positive experience.  The challenge of coaching youth is to provide discipline, cognitive development and self-esteem while keeping training “fun”.   When training is enjoyable youth want to come back. With greater commitment youth develop better mastery of skills and superior knowledge of tactics and strategy.  This can lead to the development of strategic thinking which is helpful in all aspects of life.

Positive Reinforcement Supports Youth Self Esteem:

It is important to provide positive reinforcement when training youth but not unless they are actually putting forth their best effort.  Instead of telling them what they are doing wrong, focus on what they are doing correctly.   In coaching them on what they are doing incorrectly choose words like “lets focus on trying to get your foot higher” or “that was great next time lets try…”.   Negative reinforcement is shown to discourage young athletes and negatively impact self-esteem.

Cognitive Development:

Cognitive development is key in youth training.   Exercise impacts specific components of youth’s mental function.  Reaction time is important in training youth.  Studies demonstrate that youth who are physically fit perform cognitive tasks more rapidly and display patterns of neurophysiological activity indicative of greater mobilization of brain. To achieve this as coach I provide training that requires multi-tasks movements and problem solving.  

Leadership Skills:

Leadership is the ability to motivate people to challenge themselves and meet goals.  Competitive team sports create an environment where people have to work together in order to achieve their goals.    Participation in sports can assist youth in developing strong leadership skills.  A team approach is an important component of developing leadership traits.   In coaching youth provide team related challenges that encourage the youth to work together to achieve specific measurable goals.  Sports are by nature competitive and can foster rivalry.  Instead, foster team spirit and cohesion.   Eventually, a “captain” will stand out and become the accepted position of team leader.




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