Building Rapport and Getting the Best out of the Young Athletes You Work With
As coaches, parents, and mentors, we all want to connect with the children we work with. It’s important to build a rapport with them but how can we do this? Here are my 7 golden rules for connecting with kids:
1. Get Down To Their Level
Kids usually need to look up at adults, so when we get down to their level, it helps to break down the barriers between us. Kneel or squat down to their height so you are eye to eye with them. This simple gesture will help them to feel more comfortable around you.
2. Ask Their Opinion & Listen
Children want to feel like their opinion matters. When we ask for their opinion and listen to what they have to say, it shows that we respect them and value their input. Make sure to give them your full attention and show that you are interested in what they have to say.
3. Smile & Look Like You Want To Be There
A smile can go a long way in making a child feel at ease. When you arrive at a session or a meeting, make sure to smile and look like you’re happy to be there. This will show the children that you are approachable and that you enjoy working with them.
4. Speak Their Language
Children have a language of their own, and as adults, it’s important to learn it. Try to use words and phrases that they are familiar with. Avoid using jargon or technical terms that might confuse them. This will help to build a bridge between you and the children.
5. Provide Choice
Giving children a choice can make them feel empowered and in control. For example, instead of telling them what to do, you could give them a few options and let them decide. This will help to build their confidence and encourage them to take ownership of their decisions.
6. Show Confidence In Them – Give Them Responsibility
Children often rise to the occasion when they are given responsibility. When we show confidence in them and give them tasks to complete, it helps to build their self-esteem. It shows that we trust them. Make sure to provide guidance and support, but also let them take the lead and learn from their mistakes.
7. Praise Purposefully
Praise is important, but it’s important to do it purposefully. When we praise children, it should be specific and based on their effort and achievement. For example, “Great job on completing that task!” is more effective than “You’re so smart!”. This will help to build their confidence and motivate them to continue to do their best.
Connecting with children is an essential part of coaching, parenting, and mentoring. By following these 7 golden rules, you can build a rapport with them, gain their trust, and get the best out of them. Remember, every child is different, so it’s important to be flexible and adapt to their needs.
If this post helped you please take a moment to help others by sharing it on social media. If you want to learn more I encourage you to leave questions and comments or contact me directly.
Darren 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 Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin, or via email. Check out Coaching Young Athletes on YouTube, the Coaching Young Athletes podcast, and the Coaching Young Athletes E-Book Series.