Coaching Youth Football: Communication is the Key to Success

James Ryan

Whether you are selling a product, an idea, or even yourself; you must always prioritize the needs of the person that you are dealing with in order to make that other person feel more comfortable with you. It is important that they feel comfortable with you so that they can trust you.

As a Coach, you can have all of the technical knowledge in the world about football, but if you are not able to communicate effectively, than all of your knowledge and expertise will be lost.

Albert Einstein once said, “if you can’t explain it simply, than you don’t understand it well enough”.

This statement rings especially true in youth football when you consider that so many children are continuously developing their personalities and basic levels of communication skills. Patience, respect and understanding are the keys to success when communicating and instructing young football players. Screaming until you are blue in the face accomplishes nothing.

My thinking has always been – I will never discipline your child by screaming at them. I will always ‘make’ the time to instruct and explain something to your child.

Then again, I love to yell at practice (and occasionally during a game) – not as a means of discipline, but simply to motivate and push the players to give me 100% of their effort, all of the time. I challenge all of my players to give me their personal best and I never accept anything less.

Children it seems are significantly influenced by positive behaviour. When searching for a new assistant to help me out, I would preferably take a coach with a positive and enthusiastic attitude (even if they had limited previous experience in football) over one that’s been trained for decades in the fine art of X’s and O’s (presuming that they had a very negative attitude).

I’m not discounting the valuable and necessary benefits of experience and training when it comes to football. My only point is that those skills are not as important to me as the ability to communicate with children in a way that raises their confidence and self-esteem. A child that feels good about himself (herself) will always produce good results – regardless of the game plan.

What makes a great Bartender? Is it his ability to memorize thousands of different drink recipes? Or is it his exceptional ability to speak with and relate to many different types of personalities?

So then, what makes a great Coach? Is it his ability to memorize thousands of plays? Or is it his ability to motivate his players and make them feel great about themselves?

In my experience, anyone can learn the ‘rules’ of the game. Teaching another person to care about and take an interest in helping another person is much more difficult. For some, it is impossible.


These are my opinions. If you don’t like them…I have others. Check them out at

James Ryan
James Ryan


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