How to Effectively Communicate to Youth in Sports
Having the ability to effectively communicate with youth can make a difference in how effective your coaching/instructional methods are to the children or teens you’re working with. The way you communicate with youth can impact on children and teens, including their attention and desire to play. There are many useful and practical ways to effectively communicate when in a leadership role, whether it be as a coach, instructor etc.
If you have been involved in sports at any point in your life, then there is a chance you have had coach who you didn’t respond well to. Did he/she not listen to you? Were they rude? Did they not treat each participant equally? All of these reasons are valid and common issues associated with poor coaching habits.
It is important that the message you get across to your athletes is vital to the success in the sport. By applying the few methods below, you should be able to improve and build on your coaching abilities. Here are some effective ways you can use when communicating to the youth you’re coaching:
Effectively Sending Messages
There are many different things you have to consider when sending a message to an athlete. The way the message delivered to athletes and how they receive and interpret it is important. A few things you may want to consider include using effective non-verbal cues, such as body language and facial expressions, as well as verbal message skills like being consistent and honest, while maintaining a firm and positive attitude (Coaching Youth Baseball, n.d.).
Body Language and Facial Expressions
Using the proper body language and facial expressions can make a difference in the way your message are received to by your players (Coaching Youth Baseball, n.d.). For example, if you have your arms crossed and are slouched, your players may think that you are disinterested and maybe even upset with them or their play (Coaching Youth Baseball, n.d.).
This is the same for facial expressions, as they can be the first indicator of how somebody else perceives your mood (Coaching Youth Baseball, n.d.). If you have an expressionless face, your team or group have less indicators of how you are feeling and may start to believe that you are disinterested or upset (Coaching Youth Baseball, n.d.).
The verbal messages you speak to your team as a coach can have a long lasting effect. They could begin to associate negative comments with the sport (LeBolt, 2015). This may result in them becoming disinterested in the sport through the likes of positive punishment (Lebolt, 2015).
This is why “honesty is the best policy”. Being able to voice your opinion about the performance of one of your athletes is an essential job as a coach and being able to give them honest, constructive feedback is associated with this approach. It is important, for your credibility, to follow the rule of honesty as being overly positive can result in your compliments having less meaning to your athletes (Coaching Youth Baseball, n.d.). It is important for your feedback to be clear and prompt and making sure our thoughts are organized and what you say is short, easy to understand and effective. This can make a considerable difference in the way that the message is received (Coaching Youth Baseball, n.d.; Yavelberg, 2015).
Make sure that the participants know that it is an open group setting, and that their input is encouraged (Hardwood Hustle, 2017). This, is can help ease the lines of communication between the coaches and participants, as well as mutual participant communication (Hardwood Hustle, 2017).
Some practical examples you may want to consider using during group discussion include asking the players some drills that they would like to do, as well as asking them to demonstrate certain tasks. By doing this, kids and teens have more fun and are more social and outgoing towards everybody involved as a group.
Be a Good Role Model
As an instructor or coach have been put in a leadership role and are going to have kids look up to you. It’s important that as a coach that you act how would want the kids to act. Kids typically will try and imitate your behaviour (Hardwood Hustle, 2017).
Be social, have a smile on your face, and show them what it looks like to have fun! Your energy can be contagious, so use that to your advantage!