Whether your youth sports team practices once every couple of weeks or every second day, these sessions are a valuable opportunity to collectively strengthen the group. A team that practices well should have more success during games, but it's important for you to handle practices the right way. Given that you're often using practices to introduce new drills, mistakes will occur. Here are some dos and don'ts of dealing with mistakes as they arise.
Do: Be Encouraging When Mistakes Occur
Players often respond well to positive reinforcement. This can especially be true of younger athletes. When you notice one or more players making mistakes, do your best to offer encouragement. There's nothing wrong with letting your players know that they need to make some small adjustments, but doing so in a positive manner is best.
Don't: Single Individual Players Out
Sometimes, just one player on your team will have trouble with a drill. This isn't a time to single the player out and make everyone aware of his or her shortcomings. Not only can this scenario make the player feel upset, but some of the other young athletes may feel as though their teammate is letting them down. When you need to address an error, simply talk about it without referencing the player.
Do: Offer Corrections Without Stopping A Drill
From the minute a practice begins, you have a short amount of time to work on a number of important things. While it might be tempting to stop each drill whenever you see a player make a mistake, doing so can hinder the team's momentum. It's OK to keep a drill going, even if you see a few players making mistakes. Simply offer some verbal corrections at the time. For example, you might shout out your tip instead of stopping the drill to share the message.
Don't: Exclusively Recap All Of The Negatives
At the conclusion of a practice, it's commonplace to share some points for your players to keep in mind. Some coaches have a tendency to simply list all of the mistakes that their team made, but this can discourage your athletes. When you recap the practice, be sure to talk about the successes. For example, you might list several things that the team did well and then add a few things that you want to improve upon during the next session.
To learn more about kids' sports coaching tips, contact a coach.