Coaching Young Athletes

The Biggest Misconception About Coaching Kids


The Most Important Youth Coaching Success Factor Is Not What Most People Think

Lots of people are scared away from becoming a youth coach because they think that they don’t know enough of the technical stuff.

They are worried that they don’t know enough about the skills, drills and tactics of the sport. They are concerned that they will be out of their depth and they are fearful that they will embarrass themselves. They feel intimidated.

Have you ever been in this situation?

If so, this is such a shame. Because technical knowledge doesn’t impress kids . . . but being passionate and likeable will.

My biggest piece of advice to people who are considering becoming a coach of kids is this:

HOW you coach is much more important then WHAT you coach.

In saying this, the HOW and the WHAT you coach are not mutually exclusive. You do need to know the basics; but the basics are often enough for kids. The basics are what the kids really need to know. You don’t have to get fancy and technical.

So yes – you need to learn the fundamentals of the sport. But once you have these locked down, spend your time working on your skills and qualities such as:

1. Presence

Good coaches of young athletes are charismatic in front of the kids. The kids like and are drawn in by them.

Passion is the main ingredient in a powerful coaching presence.

2. Voice Projection

Learn where to stand and how to use your voice so that everyone can hear what you are saying at all times.

3. Body Language

Learn how to look open, relaxed, happy and confident when you are working with the kids. Even if you don’t feel this way, there are tricks of the trade that you can use to appear so.

4. Feedback Delivery

Learn how to deliver feedback that is warmly accepted and effective.

5. Group Management Skills

Learn how to keep a session flowing and avoid unnecessary interruptions and distractions.

Get good at keeping disruptive behaviour in check and dealing with it when it does occur.

6. Repertoire of Games & Fun Activities

Research and build up your toolbox of games and activities that the kids love. Work on delivering them in an inspiring way.

7. Sense of Humour

A coach of young athletes can’t take themselves too seriously. Learn to laugh with the kids and to laugh at yourself.

Work With A Mentor

I encourage novice coaches to observe and work with coaches who are known to be great with kids. Watch them closely and work out where that success is coming from. Your coaching certificate is only the very beginning of your education and development as a coach. I believe that you will learn more about the craft of coaching kids from a good mentor than you will from almost any other source.


An extensive technical knowledge of a sport is not required in order to be an effective and successful coach of kids.

When starting as a coach, learn the basics, then direct your effort into developing HOW you coach, rather than WHAT you coach.

Let me know what you think!

Do you agree with what I have outlined above? What are the most important skills and qualities that a coach of kids must have? Let me know by leaving a reply/comment or by using the contact details below.

Further reading


How to Win Young Athletes Over in the First 5 Minutes

How to Serve Up a Feedback Sandwich to Young Athletes

How Coaches Can Best Prevent & Manage Misbehaviour

Book Review: 7 Keys to Being a Great Coach by Allistair McCaw


Sports Coaching Books on Booktopia

Top 100 Best Selling Children’s Sports Coaching Books on Amazon

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Darren Wensor is a sports development professional, coach educator, specialist coach of young athletes and founder of the blog Learn more about him here and connect with him on TwitterFacebookLinkedin, Instagram, Anchor or via email.

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