As some areas and organizations return to play in the coming weeks and months, coaches and parents need to find ways to support kids emotionally whether they remain at home or on the field. While parents face the daunting challenge of deciding when they will feel comfortable allowing their children to participate in youth sports, PCA and its community remain focused on supporting the social and emotional needs of our youth athletes as they process the trauma resulting from surviving a global health crisis. For youth athletes returning to the field, coaches need new and unique skills to assist kids through this transition back. Outlined below are coaching tips and suggestions to help support young athletes with their development as they return to the game they love.
1. Focus on your “why”
We often ask coaches, “Why do you coach?” The responses we frequently receive demonstrate our coaches’ amazing selflessness, compassion, and desire to make a difference. Now more than ever, it is important for coaches to periodically remind themselves of “why they coach”, especially during this transition of returning to play.
2. Practice the magic ratio
Focusing on positivity is critical as kids adjust to playing sports again and it reminds them why they fell in love with the game in the first place. Research from several areas including education and coaching shows that the optimal praise-to-criticism ratio is 5:1. Consequently, for every comment of constructive criticism, five positive comments need to be made. Kids will optimize their coachability, performance, and perseverance when they receive comments in this ratio throughout practice.