Below are ten things that could be useful to those coaching youth athletes. For many, it can be a unique experience. The article is not a road map to success, but it should help you avoid some pitfalls and reduce your overall stress.

Patience: This is possibly the biggest key to being successful in teaching anybody a sport. Do not make assumptions. Often this is a new sport to your athletes; if the sport, in general, is not, the aspects you are teaching might be. Keep in mind that these are young athletes, and they will each have an individual style and retention rate. Repetition is never a bad thing when it comes to working with young athletes.

Keep it simple, stupid (KISS): This is a term often used in military circles. Do not over complicate things for those who are new to the sport or your style of coaching. If it takes an entire practice for your team to pick up on something, so be it. Let them learn at their own pace and make sure you do not overwhelm them with a lot of data. Design your practices with the assumption it may just take you 90 minutes to get a specific point across.

Basics: Stick to them. Every sport has a foundation. There are core skills that each athlete must know to advance to more specific techniques or details. Know these for yourself and build your practice plans around them. Also, find ways to develop games or competitions around these core skills. This approach will keep them engaged and create repetition.

Build them up, not down: Positive feedback can have a great impact on young athletes. Most of them will know when they are doing things wrong, try to emphasize the things they are doing correctly. Often coaches spend the majority of their time working on all the things that are wrong and very little time improving what an athlete may be doing correctly.

Create a positive environment: Negative attitudes, poor sportsmanship, and disrespectful behavior can cause many issues within a program. Teach them at an early age that they need to win and lose with class. Respect their coaches, opponents, and teammates. Encourage them to be supportive of their teammates and cheer both winning and losing efforts. It does not mean you should not call attention to mistakes or not hold the athlete accountable. It simply means that you have to do what you can to create a more positive than a negative atmosphere.

Instill a Work Ethic: One thing we all know about sports is that it takes a lot of hard work. Do your best to instill a hard work ethic in your athletes. Let them know it takes time and hard work to achieve goals and success. Do not ride them into the ground, but instead find creative ways to show them that putting the time and work in pays off.

Teach a Lifestyle: You are not only teaching kids how to be successful in sports but life in general. Never let them cut corners. Hold them accountable and responsible for their effort.

Have a Plan: often in life and even in coaching, people tend to “wing” it. That approach can be useful in rare circumstances, but in general, you should have a plan. Practice plans work best when you plan out more than one at once. Take the time to layout your goals and objectives as a coach and then plan accordingly.

Take pride in your Team: Your athletes will assume your attitude. They will share your emotional highs and lows. If you are proud of what you are doing, there is a good chance those players will feel pride in what they are doing. Show disappointment, and there is just a likely chance that they will also feel that. Remember they are feeding off your energy and emotions. That does not mean there is not a time or place to show disappointment; just keep things in perspective.

Have Fun: Sports are games and are designed to be fun for those who participate. There are very few successful athletes that did not have fun doing what they do. Make sure your athletes are having fun and enjoying what they do. Of course, every practice or competition will be fun, but you can keep an eye on your athletes, and when you think they are no longer having fun, you will need to make some changes.