By Greg Bach
Coaching young athletes requires lots of passion, encouraging words, and well-plotted goals for driving development and elevating enjoyment.
If those elements aren’t a part of all your practices, you run a big risk of the season veering off course.
“I’m very goal-oriented and I give my athletes goals all the time,” says Patrick Chambers, the head men’s basketball coach at Penn State University. “If you’re not goal-oriented at a younger age, you’re just wandering in the woods. You’re a ship in the middle of the ocean without a captain. You need some type of direction.”
When coaches can set realistic goals for kids it helps reinforce that all-important mindset that working hard creates opportunities for improving and developing.
“Give them something to think about and strive for every day,” Chambers says. “Help them set goals.”
And when those goals are in place, be sure to talk to your athletes about maintaining a positive frame of mind while pursuing them.
“Positive thoughts equal positive outcomes,” Chambers says. “I live by that. If you have a negative thought, you’re never going to get a positive outcome.”
Those positive outcomes – no matter how big or small – deserve praise and recognition, too. Remember, a coach’s well-timed words of encouragement are devoured by kids, fueling them to work even harder to keep that recognition coming their way.
Chambers is a big advocate of doing that at his level, too. He wants his players to know that he sees them performing well.
“I’m going to applaud and make sure the entire gym knows when they do something well,” he says.
Chambers is one of 50 coaches featured in SECRETS OF SUCCESSFUL COACHING, written by the National Alliance for Youth Sports, which features tips and insights from well-known professional and college coaches, and top athletes who now coach.
The book can be purchased through the Square One Publishers website, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or through your local bookstore.
The quiet eye and predictive control: how they impact performance
Understand these stages – cognitive, associative, autonomous – to help lead your young athletes to greater performances
Three-time Olympian Leah O’Brien-Amico on helping young athletes take ownership of their efforts and perform at their best
Assessing, modifying and revising are key components of the goal-setting process. Here's what you need to know to help your young athletes