Youth sports give young athletes a great way to learn teamwork early on and learn lessons throughout their seasons. But some of that teamwork comes from coaches. Here are some tips for you to help encourage teamwork in youth sports.
Focus on fun drills that athletes want to win/play games outside of just scrimmages or focusing on team building activities.
While everyone wants to win, even that isn’t enough if youth athletes aren’t having fun playing together. Teamwork can be taught in ways other than in ‘live-action’ games or scrimmages, such as through practice drills that divide athletes into mini-teams and force them to rely on each other in order to win the exercise.
Set measurable goals as a team.
Give out roles within the team. Have your athletes recognize each other’s strengths and decide which role best suits each player. Then use these roles to teach your team how they all come together to achieve greatness.
Recognize good teamwork and sportsmanship.
Youth sports help teach us valuable life lessons. Sports teaches kids about the importance of being the part of something bigger than themselves. When you work as a team, you succeed as a team. By recognizing those efforts now, you’re helping build what could equate to a lifetime of good habits that extend far beyond the field or gym. Call out good teamwork and reward sportsmanship.
Encourage positive attitudes.
By playing together on a team, you’re already learning how to work together, to collaborate toward specific goals and then cheer on and encourage your teammates. Make your coaching strategy about more than just winning. Use those moments—whether in practice or live gameplay—to set a positive example for your team.
Listen to your team.
Communication is a two-way street. Your players need to know what is expected of them, what your goals are and how together, as a team, you can achieve them. But teamwork is impossible if we don’t listen to each other. Open lines of communication between team members and coaches, and take these suggestions into account as you plan for the future. Communication is the foundation of a successful team.