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Thursday, August 18, 2011

Coaching Sports - Positive Coaching - Building Team Chemistry

Coaching Youth Sports - Positive Coaching - Building Team Chemistry
By Jack Perconte

Building team chemistry is always a challenge for youth sport coaches. Trying to mold numerous personalities and different skill- level athletes into a cohesive unit is difficult, even for professional and college coaches. Expecting, often-untrained youth coaches to create great team chemistry can be asking a lot. The good news is that youth sport coaches do not have to deal with oversized egos or over paid athletes that college and professional coaches have to deal with. The bad news is that youth coaches have to deal with over-zealous parents that can put a thorn into building great team chemistry. Often, it only takes one uncooperative player or parent to disrupt team chemistry.

Team chemistry building is a process that takes time to develop. Good coaches are continually on the lookout for teaching moments that will enhance team chemistry as well as build positive character in team individuals. With that being said, there are many ways that youth sport coaches can incorporate into their coaching that leads to great team chemistry.

1. Open communication is one of the main keys to maintaining team chemistry. Coaches who clearly explain all team rules and coaching philosophy are off to a good start in developing team chemistry. Of course, following their stated rules and philosophy is always necessary, too.

2. Coaches should devote equal time to each team member, which makes every player feel like an integral part of the team. On the other hand, coaches, who display overt favoritism to some, often create factions on teams, which is detrimental to overall team chemistry. Even young players notice when teammates may be slighted with the coach's attention or negativity and this can be detrimental to team chemistry development.

3. Youth coaches should always watch for team members who comment or act negatively towards less talented players. Coaches should not allow any negativity to be displayed from one player or group of players towards others. Additionally, coaches should keep an eye out for any negativity displayed by parents towards players, coaches or towards other parents.

4. Teams often take on the attitude of their coach. Youth coaches who display an enthusiastic, fun and encouraging style will see their team display this attitude. Happy coaches often translate into happy kids, which leads to good team chemistry.

5. Coaches should teach sportsmanship and teamwork and watch for examples of these on their team, on other teams and in the news.

6. Team members that hang out together, even when not practicing or playing, often create stronger bonds. Coaches, or a designated parent, should organize team outings away from the game itself.

7. Fun is always a key - youth sport coaches, who can make things fun for kids, have a great chance of molding teams into a cohesive unit. Fun for athletes includes: overcoming challenges, activity, positive feedback, chances to compete, knowledge, winning and having the opportunity to win.

8. Coaches should teach the philosophy of "we." Explaining to players "we win as a team and we lose as a team" is key, as well as emphasizing the importance of each team member's contributions to the group.

9. Coaches should encourage players to "reach out" to all players so that cliques are not formed. Breaking up kids into groups with different players each practice is a good start to helping kids get to know each other.

10. As mentioned, it only takes one player or parent to disrupt a team so coaches should try to "get ahead" of any negativity with open communication before gossip and disruption can form.

Of course, winning teams often feel better about themselves. That should be motivation enough for coaches to the best job they are capable of to help teams win. Finally, creating an atmosphere where "kids can be kids" is important. This does not mean that coaches have to be friends with all players, but that coaches use their authority role to promote a positive experience for all, which leads to team chemistry.

"Playing major league baseball - sweet; helping kids - priceless."
Jack Perconte helps kids and their parents get through the complex world of youth sports. He shares his playing, coaching and parenting experiences in his books, The Making of a Hitter and Raising an Athlete: How to Instill Confidence, Build Skills and Inspire a Love of Sport. Learn more at

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Hello Baseball Friend,
I welcome any comments or suggestions. If you have a question or a topic that you would like to read about, please leave a comment and I will try to address that topic as soon as I can. Good luck in the coming season!
Have a great day, Nick