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Developing leadership in all our young athletes

Like anything involving kids, you want to make sure that you start with the absolute basics and set them up for success. That’s what you would do if you were teaching a new foot skill in soccer, and leadership shouldn’t be any different.

Stay focused on the basics of leadership with your kids. Here are a few ways that you can reliably improve their leadership.. Try these on for size and you will be amazed at how far they can get by the end of the season:

Develop a club approach to leadership that involves mixing age groups, so that the older players have an opportunity to share their knowledge and and experience in leadership with their juniors.. This way they get to use their maturity and seniority to their own advantage. You would be surprised at how eagerly our great young people will rise to the occasion and take on responsibility for helping the younger ones.

Like anything, though, the leadership role of our older players must be something that is explicitly valued by the club and in the coaching philosophy. You need to set these young athletes up for success by modeling excellent behavior with them in their formative years and consistently throughout their career. In this way, by the time they get to the senior position they will be fully prepared to take on a leadership role.

A good way to get started is in the teaching of individual skills and in leading the team through warm-up and stretching exercises at the start of practice and cool down and stretching exercises at the end. These can be ritual routines that are easy to learn and yet give our young people an opportunity to exercise excellence in practice.

Selecting captains for the team as an important way for kids to take on leadership roles during the actual play of the game. I like to rotate Kinship among the kids in the reward for their hard work during the week of practice and this makes can explicit connection between hard work and leadership rewards.

Finally, go out of your way to praise leadership and others, especially when the take the initiative to make on the spot corrections were to share their knowledge work to enforce the high standards of your club. In this way we showed that we value their initiative and leadership.

Enjoy the season!

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