Tips for motivating young athletes can help you develop a stronger team, larger influence, and more enjoyment from the sport. Help your young athletes feel valuable and want to work harder on the court by utilizing these simple communication tactics.

Positive Reinforcement

Rather than pointing out the issues with the way an athlete plays, try focusing on the positive aspects of their game. Young athletes are not accustomed to being berated and will respond better to praise. This does not mean praise them when they do not deserve it. Be stingy with your praise, but recognize and verbalize when you notice them trying to improve their skills.


Encourage Effort

Instead of complimenting their results, “Great shot” or “Good job,” praise the athlete’s effort. Say things like, “Now you are working hard” or “Try it again!” when they reach a goal. The way you respond to their successes and failures shapes the way the athlete thinks about their abilities. If they hear their coach or parent praising effort, they will be motivated to put in more effort. If they hear them praising results, they will become unmotivated when that result does not always happen.

Fit in Some Fun

Kids love to have fun, so running practices like a drill sergeant might turn them off from the sport. If you want to motivate young athletes to improve their game, structure games that encourage teamwork and are fun each time you play. This will reinforce that the sport is fun and will help that child develop the desire to try hard for their teammates. Kids that have a great team connection can motivate each other to play better.


Putting these tips into practice will help your young athletes get motivated to improve their game. Try changing the way you praise young athletes, choose what you reinforce, and foster fun in the sport.