How to Coach Young Athletes

Coaching young athletes can be enormously rewarding.  Just remember who you’re working with.  

Participation in sports is great.   There are incredibly rewarding and enriching “life lessons” in sports; lessons that translate to success in literally every aspect of “life” itself.

And, by the way, not just for the kids but for us adults as well

Coaching young athletes is incredible.

Every (and I do mean EVERY) night for over a decade my son and I would “go hit” before dinner at a field near us.

Those nights were very definitely  NOT about coaching young athletes.  They were about our  father and son ritual; followed … ALWAYS … by a trip to Dunkin Donuts.

“Dad, are we going for doughnuts?”

You bet we were … the ones with the frosting … AND sprinkles …

He is grown up now and through college.  He was a terrific switch hitter but opted to concentrate on music because he was up for … and eventually received nearly a full scholarship to attend a private college for music and music production.

I tear up when I remember those times together.  Nothing else mattered … then or now … not the practices, the games, and certainly not the overwhelming mountain of “political”  and unintelligible and often mean spirited b___  families put up with in youth sports.

All that mattered was the “go hit” … and the doughnuts.

 We need to remind ourselves … and often … that none of us knows if an individual child is going to make it all the way to  participation in professional sports but we DO know that they WILL grow up to be husbands and wives, brothers and sisters, mothers and fathers, and productive and contributing members of society. 



 Coaching youth athletes means making it “fun” for the kids.

I know that “line” is said literally ALL THE TIME; the line about “making it “fun” for the kids”.  It is said so often in fact that it has become a sort of “company” line; a “brand” if you will.  I think that a LOT of people; parents and coaches … say it in order to hear themselves talk.  They think that by simply mouthing the words and letting them fall out of their mouths … whether they MEAN the words or not and more importantly … whether they LIVE by and practice the words or not … they will at least be PERCEIVED

It is mentioned and written so often that I wonder if we have  become anesthetized to what that phrase actually means and if we hold ourselves responsible for REALLY  PRACTICING and PERFORMING and PRODUCING the “fun thing” for the kids.  So many people struggle with the conflicts between that goal; i.e. “making it fun” and the winning goal which unfortunately in our culture too often means “winning at all costs”.

And of course the opposite part of the equation which implies that, if you don’t win … you’re a loser.



Fun starts with the simples pleasures; being outside, being with your friends, your dad (or mom), learning a game, learning a skill.

Eventually however, if … and when we as coaches get it right, all that good “stuff” translates into lessons about passion and hard work and team work and goal setting and fairness and …

… how it IS “fun” to achieve THOSE things and to get better and better and EVENTUALLY … to get “good” at something; to master a skill and perform.

Doesn’t have to have a ball or a field involved in it either.  It can be a subject in school, writing, music, a trade or craft … a relationship.

All sorts of stuff.

With that … very right minded (and highly achievable) goal in mind the starting point for all this should be the acknowledgement and recognition that … SHOCKER!!! … we are working with … drum roll …


Ever since the birth of Little League baseball youth sports has been (justifiably) attacked for, as internationally famous orthopedic surgeon Dr. James Andrews (yes … the Tommy John surgery guy) describes it …

… “the imposition of adult standards of performance on children.”

I think the biggest “issue within THAT issue” is the failure to acknowledge that …WHAT WE KNOW as coaches has ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to do with what THE KIDS CAN DO.

Please note and pay special attention to the word … “DO”; what the kids can DO.

Jason Weber; world famous (two world cup wins) Australian rugby strength and conditioning coach states it perfectly, “There is what you know and what you can IMPLEMENT.  Sometimes the two are very different things.”

It’s great if you are the world’s leading expert on your specific sport.  It doesn’t matter.  Your son/daughter and all the other kids don’t care.

Nor do their parents.

They are concerned about WHAT YOU CAN TEACH …

… to THEM!!!

… at THEIR level.

Start with, as Socrates once said, (remember him; played second base for the Athens Astros and eventually became a big league hitting coach) …

“True knowledge exists in knowing that you know NOTHING.”


“As a player … a coach … or parent, if you or someone you know is  struggling with a performance issue that just isn’t responding to instruction and hard work, then call me now and let’s fix it.   The tip I gave you in this article is just the start.  Are you sick and tired of competing with EITHER a PHYSICAL or MECHANICAL ISSUE that is impacting your performance OR the twin gorillas of  FEAR and DOUBT riding on your back.  Are you ready to be done with it once and for all?  I’ve got a systematic process that takes care of any interference you have to your ultimate performance potential. You have seen short bursts of that potential and now you want to see it show up consistently!  I can help make you feel and perform great.   Call me or email me right now while you’re thinking of it!”



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