Children often look up to the people who are in authority over them, people like their parents and their coaches.
Thus, if you have a young athlete in your life, it’s important that you act as a good leader. But, what does that mean exactly? What type of leader should you be?
Challenge and Support
To start with, you should definitely challenge the young people around you. This means that you don’t allow them to not give their all. You always push them to be better, to play harder, and to take advantage of every opportunity presented to them.
And, while pushing kids is good, pressuring them is not. You shouldn’t badger them about winning every game or be too hard on them when they make a mistake. Instead, good leaders teach kids how to see mistakes or failures as learning opportunities, instead of as reasons to beat themselves up.
A good leader can push in positive ways, but he or she will also support the child every step of the way. When you give a piece of constructive criticism, always follow it with a compliment. And, be willing to listen and offer advice when a child has a problem or just needs someone to talk to.
Avoid Fear Tactics
In addition to being supportive and kind, make sure you don’t fall back on fear tactics as a way to “reach” kids because it just plain doesn’t work.
Don’t threaten that a child will never “go pro” if he doesn’t practice. Don’t manipulate children with bribes to make them perform a certain way. Don’t do anything that makes a child fearful or desperate to win or to play to a certain level.
No leader is perfect. But, if you can remember that your main goal is to challenge, support, and ultimately empower the young people in your life, you’ll find it easier to make the right moves.