Coaches are more than just sports-focused supervisors who see your child a few hours every week. They play a crucial role in children’s lives — as role models, as teachers and as mentors.

A coach’s impact is felt well beyond the training sessions and can shape children’s lives. That’s why it’s crucial that coaches understand their influence and use it to foster a learning experience on and off the field.

Positive coaching incorporates important life lessons into sports, with less of a focus on the concept of winning and losing. A positive coach emphasizes the journey rather than the trophy for first place, successfully balancing both. The results in real life outweigh the results on the scoreboard.

Inspire Positive Change

One of life’s most important lessons is the concept of self-improvement. It’s within coaches’ power to prep young athletes to be willing to commit to positive change. This isn’t just about improving athletic skills — it spills over to character change as well.

Coaches who use positive reinforcement lead to young people who are more likely to be open to constructive criticism and suggestions for improvement. Athletes whose coaches focused on their weaknesses are less inclined to make a lasting behavior change.

Positive reinforcement helps athletes recognize their strengths and weaknesses and how to improve them, an important skill in school, work and interpersonal relationships.

Create a Team-Oriented Mindset

Coaches coach teams, not just players. A team-oriented attitude — whatever is best for the team is what’s best for me — has a number of positive and lasting effects on character development in young athletes.

But it’s not just learning how to be a team player. The sense of inclusion and belonging motivates young athletes to do their best. It’s up to the coaches to create environments that allow players to develop essential communication skills. In fact, children who play sports are less likely to develop social anxiety.

Inspire Confidence

Poor self-esteem is detrimental, especially for children. Anxiety, stress, loneliness and even depression are just some of the symptoms associated with lack of self-esteem. Effective coaches help players realize their potential, inspiring positive self-esteem.

Through team sports, players have the opportunity to develop self-confidence and emotional control. This motivates those athletes to believe in themselves and try new things, both in the present and their future.

Moral Guidance in Tough Situations

What if someone on the other team acted unsportsmanlike? A positive coach shows athletes that retaliating isn’t the right answer.

These lessons translate to the real world, too. Instead of stooping to the levels of their peers, young athletes will recall the lesson they learned in the game and take the high road.

Emphasize the Importance of Hard Work

Positive coaches know that there’s more than just the game. More important than the game is the preparation for the game.

Successful athletes must put in a lot of hard work during practices and the off-season. Game time is all the time, and athletes must strive to be their best off the field just as much as on the field. Learning this habit of hard work spans to other aspects of children’s lives — a lesson that improves character for years to come.

Wanting your team to win is normal. But, those who value positive development over winning provide children with a better chance of succeeding in life than those who make triumph their only goal.