Youth Sports of the Americas Shares Best Practices for Coaching

A coach talking to a team of young soccer players at our sports complex in Gatlinburg.

Anyone who has played youth sports knows that a coach can have a huge impact on your enjoyment of the game, future in athletics, and life in general. A great coach will inspire you to grow as an athlete and a person, while a bad one can make you want to quit sports altogether. Here at Rocky Top Sports World, we want to encourage the right type of coaching. That’s why we’re sharing this helpful coaching advice from Youth Sports of the Americas, a group dedicated to promoting healthy, safe, and enjoyable youth sports participation.

Focus on Effort Rather Than Winning

Of course, the goal of any sports team is to win. However, when winning becomes the only focus of a coach, everyone’s enjoyment of the game starts to deteriorate. Michael Bergeron, the President of Youth Sports of the Americas, notes that a “win at all costs” attitude can have dire consequences for young athletes:   

“We see injuries going up. Burnout. It’s unsustainable psychologically. The demands are too much for kids.”

Instead of focusing primarily on winning, coaches should emphasize effort. The number one question a coach should ask an athlete is “Did you do your best?”. Barbara Humphrey, a board member of Youth Sports of the Americas, explains how she implements this philosophy as a track coach:

“If you come off the track and say ‘I did everything I could’, you get a hug, because you did what you did to represent you.”

(See Also: Sportsmanship Comes First at Our Sports Complex in Gatlinburg)

It’s About the Team, Not The StarsA football coach watching a game.

One of the hot button issues surrounding youth sports is playing time. All too often, the same group of kids end up spending most of the game on the bench. Coaches need to make sure that they aren’t playing favorites or just focusing on the few star players. Everyone on the team deserves individual attention and time on the field.

Putting the spotlight on the team’s best players isn’t just unfair to the rest of the team, it can also backfire. When a coach puts too much pressure on a player, it makes them stressed out and more likely to quit. Michael Bergeron advises coaches and parents:

“Let’s not try to make super stars at 11 or 12 years old. The superstar at 12 is rarely the elite athlete at 18.”  

On a related note, experts have found that specializing in one sport at a young age can have disastrous effects on an athlete’s development.
A coach explaining something to a team of young basketball players.
Rocky Top Partners with Great Coaches

Rocky Top Sports World is fortunate enough to work with some truly exceptional coaches. Phillip Fulmer, the former football coach of the University of Tennessee, works with our team as we develop our sports camps and will be leading his own football camp this summer. Additionally, former UT running back Jabari Davis will lead a Speed, Agility, and Quickness camp for young athletes. To see all of the upcoming events at our sports complex in Gatlinburg, visit the Rocky Top Sports World Tournaments & Camps page!