June is National Sports America Kids Month, created to “encourage the health, well being, and self-esteem of America’s children, and help them appreciate the gift of life and respect others.” In the spirit of this vision, this month we’re focusing on people who champion “sports power” and the positive impact it can have on our country’s kids.
Chances are, at some point you’ll step up to coach. As a parent, it’s pretty much a given. Or maybe you’ll volunteer. In any case, as “coach” you hold the power to boost a kid’s confidence–or turn him off sports forever. So what’s the right thing to say? Rick Wolff, a leading expert in sports psychology and sports parenting, has some great advice. In his recent blog post, The Importance of Words: “Crucial Coaching Conversations,” Wolff offers 3 key tips for anyone in position to make a positive impact by coaching:
1. Avoid sarcastic remarks. Kids under the age of 13 don’t understand sarcastic comments. The so-called humor is lost upon them. As such, just avoid it at all costs.
2. Never berate them right after a loss. After a tough game, give them some time to recuperate emotionally. Give them a pat on the back, but absolutely do not go into a detailed accounting of what they did wrong. This is not the time for that lecture. Wait until the next practice when they’ve been refreshed before going over mistakes.
3. Be brief. There’s never any need to talk for more than 3-4 minutes after any tough loss. Besides, kids will just quickly tune you out. Save your breath.
More than anything, Wolff points out, kids are looking for approval—one of the biggest motivators and gifts you can offer a younger generation.
For more of Wolff’s insights, click here to visit his site.