Most young athletes that try a new sport quickly become frustrated or discouraged when they cannot pick it up easily. Children need motivation even if they are naturally athletic. Coaches and parents play a key role in helping young athletes succeed.

As a coach it is important to build strong relationships with your athletes. Take the time to form individual bonds with each player/athlete on your team and get to know their strengths and weaknesses so that you can give them personalised feedback. Some athletes are able to pick up sports immediately whereas others may struggle with the sport. You can praise them in their efforts when they overcome their weaknesses. Young athletes want to know that they have the potential and that they are valued members of the team. By developing individual relationships and giving them constructive feedback, not only will they be more confident during the game but they will also have trust in you as a coach.

Avoid punishing your athletes or criticising them. This includes making an athlete run laps if they make mistakes or calling out an athlete’s fault in front of the rest of the team. The athlete may feel embarrassed of inadequate and therefore be less likely to continue practicing the sport. However, you shouldn’t ignore mistakes. Provide your athlete with instructions to help them improve their weaknesses and acknowledge when the athlete is working on improving themselves.

Encourage your team to watch the sport regularly and find a role model within the sport. This will give them a goal to work toward and help them realise what is possible if they are dedicated.


  1. Stewart Walker

    All good advice but I didn’t notice any mention of the two F words – fun and fair!

    Making it fun is essential when it comes to kids sport.

    In a team game, you also need to give everyone a fair go. Nothing kills kids’ motivation faster than the talented kids being favoured over others.

    • Sportsmart

      Hi Stewart – Thanks for your feedback. Of course having fun and being fair is essential!
      Yours in sport,

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s