Creating positive impact for your athletes doesn’t mean being a relentlessly perky cheerleader. Rather, it means creating an environment where your athletes feel cared for, excited about their sport, connected to their teammates, and confident in themselves.
Here are five areas to focus on when it comes to improving your coaching.
Lead with love
Regardless of your style of coaching when choosing drills, plays, and practice styles, your athletes should always feel as though you care about them. Students reported more life skill and character development when coaches led with compassion.
“Showing love and caring means acting in the best interests of your athletes, which includes discipline when necessary,” explains Wade Gilbert, PhD, a professor at California State University in Fresno and a Team USA Coaching Consultant. “Great coaches show a lot of love for their athletes — it doesn’t mean being positive all the time, it means being genuine and giving people what they need.”
Children are highly tuned to sensing inauthentic behavior, and don’t respond well to a coach who puts on a show of being relentlessly positive. “Kids have a good radar for inauthenticity. They can tell when a coach isn’t being straight with them. Regardless of whether you’re someone who’s super positive or if you’re more sarcastic, it’s important to be genuine,” says Jenelle Gilbert, PhD, a professor at California State University in Fresno. “As long as you’re showing that you care about your athletes, you’re doing the right thing.”