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Fostering Excellence Through Youth
Sports: A Guide for Coaches

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Youth coaches have a unique ability to influence the lives and character of young people. If
you’re a coach with a youth sports organization, you may be wondering how you can maximize
the impact of your work. Well, SportStade is here to help! Let this quick, informative guide
inspire your growth as a youth sports coach.

Professional development for coaches

It takes more than technical expertise to be a great youth sports coach. These educational
resources take you from coach to trusted mentor.
● The National Standards for Sports Coaches define the essential knowledge, skills, and
practices for coaches. Do you meet and exceed these benchmarks, or do you have
room for improvement?
● The Positive Coaching Alliance builds soft skills for coaching with online courses
covering topics like constructive criticism, truthful praise, and fostering a culture of
excellence.

● Every adult working with youth should recognize the signs of a youth in crisis. Youth
Mental Health First Aid training uses a five-step action plan for supporting a young
person in crisis.
● Are you a patient soul with an interest in helping others? Pursuing your teaching
certification is a great way to put your experience to use by shaping the minds of the
next generation!

Modeling to influence athlete behavior

“Do as I say, not as I do” doesn’t fly when working with youth. These resources explain how
coaches can demonstrate leadership qualities through their actions.
● Sports are the ideal setting to teach effective conflict resolution. When coaches model
active listening, “I” statements, and open body language, youth learn to defuse tense
situations and avoid communication obstacles.
● What about internal conflicts? Coaches help youth overcome failure and self-doubt
through reframing. Instead of dwelling on why things went wrong, model resilience by
focusing on how to improve.
● Every athlete wants to be their best, but teamwork is where youth sports excel. Coaches
foster a team-first mindset when they use “we” language, adopt a servant-leader
mindset
, and give youth ownership over team decisions.

Teaching leadership on and off the mat

How can coaches help youth translate athletic success to other domains? Here’s how to inspire
excellence on and off the mat.
● Goal setting is critical to success in a young person’s educational, professional, and
personal life. The SMART model shows how structuring short-term targets can put an
athlete’s big goals within reach.
● You can’t achieve goals without the confidence to take action. Well-meaning adults
frequently undermine confidence by overcoaching, but it’s important to give youth the
opportunity to make decisions — and mistakes — on their own.
● Leadership roles shouldn’t be reserved for the best athletes. Give everyone an
opportunity to participate to foster a culture of inclusion and respect.
● Coaches can facilitate connections beyond sports as well. Connect youth with the
broader community by supporting a cause, fundraising, or volunteering as a team.

There’s no magic recipe for molding young minds. However, at SportStade, we believe that with
the proper influence today, any young person can develop the skills and character necessary to
become the leader of tomorrow.

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