A few thoughts on being a youth coach
Coaches in youth sports have a particularly great responsibility for the quality of skill and athletic development of young athletes. They must always be aware of the diverse demands of their role and be in a constant process of personal development and reflection in order to provide their young athletes with the best possible support. Performance-oriented training includes not only the development of motor skills and sports specific skills, but above all the personal development of young athletes. Youth sports should not only prepare kids and adolescents for a competitive sports career, but also for the demands and challenges of life.
The development of psychological and social aspects can only be supported by the coach if he has the necessary skills and an holistic approach to training and his role as a coach. The understanding of youth sports must go beyond simply teaching motor skills, physical preparation and development. A sensitization for personal development, social and mental skills must also complete the understanding of youth sports, so that he can enable his athletes to cope with sporting as well as everyday challenges. A coach who takes a holistic view of his role and sees sport as a medium for the personal development of his athletes is less imposing and more accompanying. Motor skills, technique and tactics naturally form the basis of sporting development, but the psychological and social skills are in most cases the decisive factor in determining whether the path to world-class performance ends successfully or is left behind. Performance motivation, emotional control, self-confidence and above all willpower are essential in high-performance sport, so these psychological characteristics should already be given special attention in youth sports.
Personal development of children and young people is influenced to a high degree by role models who give them attention, interest and recognition. Trust in the coach and a fear-free learning climate fostered by him and the training group are basic requirements for promoting personal development. Coaches should therefore always give their young athletes the feeling that they have a personal interest in their development from all perspectives.
Children and adolescents in particular orient themselves towards role models, so that coaches play an important role especially in clubs and youth training centers. An awareness of the role model function and an agreement between the actions demanded of the athletes and their own are indispensable, otherwise there is a lack of authenticity.
In all sports, children and adolescents must be taught sport-specific techniques and tactics, so that a coach should certainly be able to demonstrate technical movement sequences or at least be able to explain them competently, precisely and comprehensibly. The same applies to the role model function with regard to the psychological and social aspects. A coach who wants to promote the self-confidence of young athletes should also be self-confident and be aware of his own strengths, weaknesses and performance. A coach does not have to be perfect, but he should always work on his professional, methodological, personal and social skills, have a high degree of ability to reflect and fulfill his ascribed role model function.
This also includes ensuring a fear-free learning climate and social well-being in the training group, as well as adapting to and taking into account the different developmental phases of children and adolescents. Only if there is trust and openness in the athlete-coach-relationship and if the young athletes can rely on the coach to focus on long-term athlete development and their personal development, the goal of a strong, self-confident and capable athlete personality for success in elite sports can be achieved.