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10 ways to coach and retain youth athletes

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Sergio Lara-Bercial listed 10 ways to coach and retain youth athletes:

1. Be child-centered
Always have the best interest of children. Take the “adult glasses” off, always have the best interest of the child, and make the game fit the child (instead of the other way round).

2. Be Holistic
They are children first, athlete second. Develop the child’s positive-self, engage them Psycho-Socially, and coach the whole child.

3. Be Inclusive
Cater for all levels of ability and motivation. Pay equal attention to children, remove barriers, and run differentiated sessions.

4. Create fun and safe environments
Children want to have fun and learn, but they need to feel safe. Build relationships, don’t let learning get in the way of fun, and ensure physical and emotional safety.

5. Prioritise children’s love for sports
Only a few will be elite athletes, but all should fall in love with it. Help them understand the benefits, make the whole family active, and ensure they come back.

6. Develop foundational motor and game skills
At a young age, sport is just a vehicle to develop foundational skills. It leads to lifelong participation and increased performance.

7. Engage parents in a positive and constructive way
Parents are the biggest resource. Talk to them and educate them. 

8. Plan developmentally appropriate programmes
Involve long-term thinking. Set goals, be age appropriate and realistic, and connect everything to the plan.

9. Use different methods to enhance learning
Learning takes time. Different methods works better for different stages.

10. Use competition in a developmental way
Teach kids to compete, not just to win. Competition should be used as a means to learning and not an end to itself. It can also be fun and a great motivator.