Philosophy of Coaching Youth is No Different than Big League Coaching in a Way

Maybe it is not the kids, but the philosophy of coaching youth that is the problem. And, maybe coaches need to change their philosophy of coaching youth. Of course, it is not just an issue at the youth coaching levels, as professional coaches deal with the same things with the greatest players in the world. They all have the same question, “Why don’t players care more and give 100% all the time?” When I played major league baseball it was the same, some players came to play every day and others did not, or at least gave the appearance of not playing their hardest.

I often hear similar things from youth coaches, alluding to the idea that kids have it easy now, and that their desire is lacking. “The players do not come to play,” or “The kids have no heart” or “They don’t take it serious, like we use to” are common coaching statements that refer to kids lacking desire and giving less than their all. 

My first thought after hearing such accusations goes unspoken, but to me it sounds as if their philosophy of coaching youth is the problem, not the players. Realistically, most teams consist of a couple of players that give maximum effort, and many players, who give less than 100% of maximum effort, and give off a less than serious attitude, when it comes to playing and trying. A big part of coaching is trying to turn players, who have less desire and give less than maximum effort, into giving more, even if it does not come up to the “all in” level.

Coaches should go into coaching knowing they will encounter many players that have a casual attitude and that is the challenge of coaching youth. That is the challenge good coaches accept; they find ways to bring out desire, attitude, and effort in players. Age of players and the degree of commitment expected for the level played is always a consideration, but a good philosophy of coaching youth is for coaches to challenge themselves to see how many of those less than maximum players they can turn into the 100% group. Turning just a player or two into the one hundred percent in-group is a great accomplishment and justification for staying with being a coach.

Getting players to buy into giving their all is not easy but the following suggestions give coaches that fighting chance.

Philosophy of Coaching Youth Tips

Coaches should:

  1. Set realistic expectations for each player individually – many kids are afraid to give their all because they feel like it will not be good enough. By giving less than their best effort, they have an excuse for not coming through.
  2. Objectively compare their effort to their previous effort levels and not to what other players give or what you think they should be doing. Letting youth players know that the coaches recognize a little added effort boosts players desire to give a little more.
  3. Describe their actions in a way that does not attack their desire levels. Saying be more aggressive the next time that play occurs is better than saying you have to want it.
  4. Remain positive, encouraging and hopeful – realizing that coaches never know when a player may figure it out that giving more is beneficial.
  5. Never forget that fun in sport is mandatory and part of fun is challenging players according to, and up to, their frustration level.

Finally, good coaches make a point of getting to know players interests beyond the sport, when possible. Coaches, who let kids know that they realize there is more to life than just what they give on the playing fields, have the best philosophy of coaching youth.


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