Growing a leadership mindset in young athletes


What is leadership?

The term “leadership” refers to many kinds of behavior. Leadership is when one person guides a group of people towards a common goal. Leadership implies Influencing individuals to contribute to the group’s success through motivation and positive mood. An influential leader can make all the difference in the world. Whereas some claim that leaders are born, others believe that anyone can make a leader to remember through proper training.

Leadership in sports

Leadership in sports, however, is not clearly understood. There is a big misconception among coaches who wear the hat of a leader. Many believe that youngsters are not able to develop leadership skills, take on responsibility, or show compassion on others. On the contrary, participation in sports is a great chance for children and teenagers to develop skills of an effective leader. The coach has the unique opportunity to teach good values that sooner or later will result in positive psychological development of the young athletes.

Outlining the common benefits for children of participation in sports

Participating in sports can help everyone, especially young people develop leadership skills as well as other good values that will help them live a good life. Usually young people involved in sports programs develop a growth mindset, enjoy high confidence and increased self-esteem. In addition, involvement in sports teaches healthy habits, social skills, self-discipline, sportsmanship, teamwork, and listening. Many studies report that youth athletes are more likely to get high grades in school, graduate from high school, go to college, take part in programs for social help, climb up the career ladder and become successful directors, business managers and influential leaders.

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To achieve success youth athletes need a good coach to lead them and provide proper training. An effective coach must be able to engage in different aspects of the training process. Through developing his own methods, based on knowledge and experience, he can cope effectively with everyday issues that may occur within the sports training. He must rise to challenges and come up with effective solutions that contribute to the athletes’ progress in learning. To achieve all of the above, certain skills are needed.

Top 5 leadership skills that define the good coach

Self-awareness. When a coach I not aware of his positive and negative sides, he won’t be able to progress and help the team. It is important that he receives feedback from third part about his behavior in certain situations.

Concern for others. Youth athletes prefer coaches who care for them and understand their needs and feelings. A good coach cares deeply for each member. He has to be fully aware of the emotional structure of the team and be ready to interfere when is necessary.

Good communication. This is a major leadership skill. The coach must be good in interacting with the children in the team. Once he wins their trust it becomes much easier to enhance motivation and push them until reaching their full potential in achieving the common goal. He also must help people in the team connect with each other easily. Athletes must have sense of mission and share the same goal in order to deliver strong overall performance. It is the coach’s responsibility to send clear message verbally and non-verbally.

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Emotional commitment. An effective coach has to manage team’s emotions, expectations and behavior until reaching the ideal performance. This skill can crucially affect the way he motivates and engages others with the goals of the team, helping them stay focused on the important things, overcome fear of failure, and handle failure when it happens. An influential coach is the one who remains team-focused all the time.

Establish emotional control. This is the final skill which combined with the other four puts the team in winning position. Through balancing thoughts, emotions, expectations, enhancing motivation, a caring and team-focused coach will definitely achieve significant improvement.

Coaches are life educators. They come up with an approachable strategy with each athlete. They can challenge athletes, not put them under pressure. Great coaches never use threats, but inspire and motivate; quietly supervise the process of acquiring and refining various skills. Coaches who devote effort and time focusing not only on reaching the physical competence, but also growing social awareness, will endow their athletes with lifelong abilities that will positively affect their lives beyond sport.


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