If you have a youth athlete who is actually a great athlete, then you can do wonders with your team.  One of those athletes can carry your team to the finals in your league.  But, what you might not realize is at that level your youth athlete can make an impact on your team and he/she doesn’t even have to be that great of an athlete.

In fact, a lot of things your athlete can do at that age will be very beneficial to the athlete when he/she really starts to develop and actually has athleticism.

Here are 6 attributes your athlete can start implementing today and become one of the best athletes on the team:

  1. Really, truly have fun. This is something that is forgotten in this day and age of youth sports.  This is why you initially started playing the game right?  Have fun playing and show it.  If you are having fun, then others might start having fun.  It will become contagious.
  2. Focus your comments to always be positive to your teammates congratulating them when they do something correct, great, whatever it may be. Young athletes really have a hard time critiquing their teammates.  Some athletes grasp concepts quicker than others, but have a hard time telling a teammate when they are doing something wrong.  Don’t worry about that.  Just focus on complimenting athletes every time they do something correct.  They will feel great about themselves and you use positive reinforcement to get them to continue to do the right things the right way.
  3. Always do your warmup and cooldown correctly and with effort. Your coach will be impressed if you are doing the warmup exactly the way he/she wants it.  Don’t walk through the warmup.  First of all, you do need to get warmed up, but do it with some effort.  You just going through the motions doesn’t instill a lot of confidence with your coach.  But, if the coach sees you always doing them right, that will stick out in your coach’s mind.
  4. Don’t make any excuses and accept responsibility for your actions. Even at a young age, you can start teaching these athletes to understand there are consequences for the actions.  If they blew an assignment, admit to it, and work on getting better next time.  Don’t blame others and don’t make some wild excuse why such and such happened.  Own it, learn from it, and move on.
  5. Teach them young how to have a motor. These kids need to be taught at a young age what effort looks like.  You can’t just tell them, you got to explain it to them.  You have to create drills that will emphasize them using a constant motor during the drills so it will transfer over to the game.  If your coach sees that you are always going full speed no matter what sport you are playing, you will always have playing time because he/she knows you want to be out there.  Doesn’t matter how unathletic you might be, going full speed will make up for any physical mistakes you might do.
  6. Teach those athletes how to have a short term memory. The sooner they can forget something the better.  Use it as a teaching moment so they can learn from it, but after that teach them to forget about it.

If you can develop those 6 attributes in a young athlete early on in their athletic career, it can compensate for any unathleticism that athlete may have.  It will buy you time to get on the field and gain valuable experience where you hope to one day develop yourself to be a great athlete.