A Skill Every Youth Coach Should Develop

If You Are Not Currently Doing This, Then Start Now

What would you say are the most important skills required for being an effective coach of young athletes?



Group Management?

These are all important, but . . .

I would also include smiling.


Coaches of kids need to smile a lot and look like they want to be there.

Do you smile when you work with kids? Do you give the impression that you really want to be there? Have you even thought about this before?

If not, start doing so.

A smile can project enthusiasm, passion, warmth, positivity and optimism. Wouldn’t you like to be coached by someone who conveys these things?

Set the Scene

Don’t wait for the kids to set the tone of the session or wait to see what type of mood that they are in. Set the tone yourself. Get on top of this early. That is your job.

The very first contact with the kids at the start of each session is important. Your first interaction can make or break a session. So:

Greet the kids warmly with an enthusiastic smile.

Appear to be excited. Have a laugh and a joke.

Clap your hands, wave your arms – whatever you have to do.

Be “up on your toes”. Bounce around.

Tell the kids that you are glad to be there. Tell them that you love doing what you are doing.

Say that you have been looking forward to the session, and have been for days.

Be a performer.

All great coaches of young athletes are also great performers.

If the kids believe that you like what you are doing, you will draw them in.

You may not always feel enthusiastic. You may be tired. You may have a lot going on. You may have had a hard day. But guess what? It’s not about you; it’s about the kids.

In his book 7 Keys to Being a Great Coach, Allistair McCaw says:

“If it’s not your day then try to make someone else’s.”

Put It In The Plan

In your session plan, include a prompt that reminds you to smile and be enthusiastic.

I’m not joking. Actively plan to be enthusiastic. It will help. If you have had a bad day, it will remind you of why you are there.

Following a session, give yourself a score out of 5 relating to how much you smiled. If you award yourself a low number, focus on achieving a higher score during your next session. Don’t be surprised if a high “smile score” equates to a successful session.

I would love to hear your thoughts on this

Is smiling as important as I am making it out to be for coaches? How high would you rate it? Is is something that you are conscious of? Is it something that you have had to work on? Let me know by leaving a reply/comment or by using the contact details below.

Further reading


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

How to Evaluate Your Own Coaching Performance


7 Keys to Being a Great Coach by Allistair McCaw

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20150614_154020-1Darren Wensor is a sports development professional, coach educator, specialist coach of young athletes and founder of the blog coachingyoungathletes.com. Learn more about him here and connect with him on TwitterFacebookLinkedin, Anchor or via email.

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