Is discipline necessary or out of place for today's youth athletes? As we have stated before, discipline is absolutely necessary. When kids first start youth programs they are appropriately scared. Usually it is their first experience in organized activities and they don't know what to expect. Coaching discipline is found in many forms: direction, teaching, promoting team bonding, setting team and program goals, and doling out non-demeaning punishment for breaking the team code.
Kids crave direction and leadership from coaches. They look up to coaches immediately, so it is the coaches' responsibility to live up to that trust and show them the way, from the most efficient practice plans, to teaching them how to practice correctly and how to accomplish team and individual goals. Understanding skill techniques, applying them to each player, and making them repeat techniques until they succeed are absolutes for every coach. Kids want to improve and contribute to their team. It keeps them interested in continuing on in their designating sport or activity.
Team bonding is achieved by doing everything as a team—drills, warmups, water-breaks, etc—which helps players understand a “we” mentality. Off the field there should be organized group functions to demonstrate and emphasize togetherness.
Setting team goals should always be stressed. It is about developing the athletes physically and emotionally, not about winning youth games. Coaches must use their imagination and coaching talent to also make every player's personal goal within reach.
Lastly, punishment should be enforced if team rules are broken or ignored. It should be made clear by coaches what team and league rules are before practices begin, and express that any deviations will be dealt with. Youth punishments are usually in the form of running or calisthenics, but if there are serious infractions parents should be immediately notified.