An open letter to youth coaches everywhere!

I’d love to offer a few words…take them at face value, do with them what you wish.

Practice What You Preach!  If you want your team to have poise, think about starting the trend yourself.  Don’t be a raving lunatic when a player makes a mistake or throws a turnover or the referee makes a bad call.  If you want your team to bring some energy to practice, bring some yourself.  You’ll find those around you rise quickly when you’re energized.  If you want your team to focus on the next play after a mistake in a game, then stop harping on the mistake and move your own focus to the next play.  Address it in practice later.  Practice what you preach and make sure that you’re preaching on the right things!

Keep It Simple!  At practice, it’s important.  During time-outs, it’s critical.  Pick a concept to focus on and build around it.  If rebounding is an issue for your team, then maybe you need to focus a practice around it.  (I’ve seen some teams I think should probably focus a season around it.)  In practice, you can play games with scoring systems that reward rebounds over points.  (In the event rebounding actually is your team’s biggest problem, might I recommend this link: , I think you might get a spark of inspiration in that direction.) Whatever the area of focus, tell them, show them and allow them to practice it.  Give it the time and attention it needs, and keep it simple!

Pick Up The Pace!  There’s far too much standing around in practice, far too many single file lines.  Practice time is limited, and the only way they’re getting better is when they are actually practicing.  They don’t need to learn how to stand in a line (well, some of them could use some practice at that too, but you know what I mean).  They need to learn how to dribble a ball, how to pass, how to catch.  Rather than watch them one at a time while everyone else stands looking on, have them all do the drill as often as possible.  Guess what?  They need conditioning too.  It’s much more fun to get conditioning in while you’ve got a ball in your hands or a drill to keep you thinking.  Also, Youth Coaches, kids standing in line are usually unengaged and that’s when they get in trouble.  Can I get an Amen?

Teach Them It’s Ok to Fail!  So many kids are ridiculously stressed over their performance.  I’ve seen them time and time again break down in tears over a mistake.  They’ll spend the whole practice dribbling with their dominant hand because they don’t want to struggle through learning to dribble with the other one.  They need to know that it’s ok to fail, if they can’t successfully complete a drill today, they can work at it and improve.  Teach them to love the process!!

Last, but certainly not least…..Have fun!!  That means you, too!


Coach Keri


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