Youth Sports

Everyday Mentoring Weekly Text Tips for Coaches

Youth sports coaches have a unique opportunity to offer support and encouragement to their student-athletes that will help them improve their skills and navigate challenges both on AND off the field. 

TMP is offering 12-weeks of Everyday Mentoring tips, designed to be delivered by text, that youth sports organizations can send to all of their coaches to help them be more intentional in their support of their players.  Check out the tips below -- we'll be adding to these each week!

Week 12: Continuing the Relationship

When the sports season ends or an athlete leaves the team, that doesn’t mean the relationship should end too. Instead, offer up ways to continue fostering the relationship. Let your athletes know that you’ll always be there for them as a mentor, friend, and caring adult. 

Week 11: The Importance of "I See You" 

As coaches, you know what strengths and weakness each player has. When your athletes make an effort to improve, let them know that you see them. Despite the outcome of the game, win or lose, acknowledge every part of the game and the effort each athlete gave. Telling your team “I see you” will help them gain confidence and encourage them to keep up the good work.

Week 10: Cultural Humility

It's important to recognize that our student-athletes come from a wide range of cultural backgrounds and there are many cultural considerations you should consider as you support young people's positive mental health:

  • Respect youth and their experiences.
  • Don't make assumptions.
  • Be mindful of language and expressions.
  • Recognize what might make it hard for a young person to ask for or receive help.
  • Set aside your own beliefs and reactions to focus on the needs of the youth to be heard, understood and helped.
  • Don't express any negative judgments.

Week 9: De-Escalating Tense Situations

As young people grow, it is sometimes difficult for them to regulate their emotions, which can lead to tense situations. Before you can fully assess a young person's needs and the appropriate next steps, it's important to de-escalate a tense situation first:
  • Speak slowly and confidently with a gentle, caring tone of voice.
  • Do not argue or challenge the youth.
  • Do not threaten.
  • Do not raise your voice or talk too fast.
  • Use positive words instead of negative words.
  • Stay calm and avoid nervous behavior.
  • Do not restrict the youth’s movement.
  • Try to be aware of what may increase the youth’s fear and aggression.
  • Pause, if needed, during the conversation.

Week 8: Self-Care Strategies

As coaches, it's important to encourage self-care strategies. After a long practice or a rough game, tell your athletes to take some time for themselves. Reinforce the importance of self-care and how taking care of yourself can improve their performance on the field or court. Offer these self-care strategies to get your young people started:

  • Prioritze rest
  • Eat a balanced diet
  • Stay hydrated
  • Practice mindfulness
  • Exercise regularly

Week 7: Supporting Positive Mental Health

As coaches, we have an opportunity to promote and support positive youth mental well-being for all of our athletes. We're an extra set of eyes to notice when a young person might be dealing with a challenge. We're an extra set of ears to listen if a young person needs to talk. We're also in a position to reassure a young person OR connect them to additional/professional resources if needed. Click here to view our "Mentoring and Youth Mental Health" Guide to learn more about how strong relationships can positively impact youth mental health and well-being.

Week 6: Opportunities for Contribution

How can we as coaches leverage every moment of practice as a chance for learning and contribution? Think about times when some of your athletes are on the sidelines, disengaged during drills. How can you create an opportunity for contribution? Can they partner with someone and mimic next to them or give thoughts/feedback to their fellow athletes participating in the drill?

Week 5: Embracing Growth Mindset

How can we help our student-athletes flip the switch on negative self-talk? Growth mindset can be a great way! The idea behind growth mindset is that people believe their most basic abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work. Research shows that youth with a growth mindset earn better grades, perform better on standardized tests, maintain their confidence when faced with challenges and are more resilient when they make a mistake.

Growth Mindset in Action
Instead of "I'm never going to be able to catch that ball," try "Mistakes help me learn and grow and I'm going to keep practicing so I can catch that ball."

Instead of "I don't know how to play football and I never will," try "This might take some time and effort, but I'm trying something new and I can't wait to learn more."

Week 4: Being a Non-Judgmental Listener

As coaches, our ability to listen is just as important as our ability to communicate. But listening non-judgmentally is not as easy as it sounds. Before reaching out to a young person, it can be helpful to evaluate your own frame of mind.
Ask yourself:

  • Are you prepared to express concern without judgment?
  • Are you the best person to help this youth?
  • Can you invest the appropriate amount of time in a conversation right now?

Effective non-judgmental listeners pay special attention to both verbal and nonverbal cues:

  • Allow young people to express their thoughts uninterrupted
  • When appropriate, ask questions, but do not push.
  • Use "I" statements to convey what you have observed.
  • Remember, it's about the young person, not you.

Week 3: Healthy Competition

It's important to promote healthy competition by regularly reinforcing the idea that it's okay to lose as long as young people are putting forth an effort and learning from the experience. Modeling good behavior is also a powerful tool!

If a young person is involved in healthy competition, he/she may:

  • ask to participate in the activity again
  • be able to win and lose gracefully
  • learn new skills and want to better themselves
  • enjoy improved self esteem

If a young person is involved in unhealthy competition, he/she may:

  • resist participation in the activity
  • fake an illness to avoid the activity
  • say outright that they don't want to participate
  • show signs of depression, anxiety, difficulty sleeping, or loss of appetite--all that warrant further discussion.

Week 2: Coaching Out Loud

As student-athletes reach the age where they're getting more involved in sports, their brains are wired for creativity and are particularly able to take on new ideas. By "coaching out loud," coaches can help their athletes develop strategy skill-sets. When we coach out loud, we open our process to young people. We explain why and how we're doing things. This gives them a chance to not only learn from what they see us do, but also from the process that went into doing it. Instead of hoping that kids just copy our behavior, we get to share something much more useful: a blueprint for how to do it themselves!

Week 1: The Importance of Relationships

Strong relationships play an important role in the development of young people. Sports' coaches have a unique opportunity to build relationships that will support their student-athletes on and off the field. Building a good relationship starts with an even better foundation. One way to begin forming a good relationship with your players is to ask questions instead of always giving instruction. What could have been better? Do you have any ideas? How can I better support you?