Establishing Yourself as a Youth Coach

A youth coach must command respect immediately from youth athletes, most of whom have a small attention span. By following three rules, you'll establish yourself as the authority and create a great playing experience for the team.

1. Be firm with your players and let them know in no uncertain terms that you are the leader of the team. Discipline and organized activity enhances and nurtures a learning environment. Kids will respond to that controlled atmosphere and enjoy it, and automatically improve their play because of it. If you allow misbehavior and child play you will lose them for the season and both the coaching and playing experience will be miserable.

2. Learn every player's name. It was one of the first things I was taught when I started coaching. I had to learn everyone's name the same day I met them. Kids feel like a part of a team right away when that happens, and it makes coaching them a little easier, because they feel the coach already knows them.

3. Never use a whistle. Let players get used to the sound of your voice. You aren't a referee, and sometimes players construe whistle sounds as catching them in the act of doing something wrong. A good voice can project positive authority, so use it!