Lindsay Stefanini is a Staff Coach at Storm Soccer Academy and has been working with youth girls soccer participants that are between the ages of 12 and 17 for the last four years. As a former standout performer on the women’s soccer team at Morehead State University, Lindsay is a great resource as she witnessed as a teenage player the coaching style she enjoyed and is now creating a developmentally appropriate environment for the girls she coaches. The following information is from Lindsay and are tips on coaching teenage girls.
Becoming a teenager is a huge transition in a girl’s life. It can be an extremely exciting time, but it can often be a very confusing one as well. This is the time where a young girl starts to truly find out who she is and what she wants to become. It is so important during this time that girls have positive guidance to help them along the way.
Coaching this age group has been a very fun and challenging experience. Thinking back to when I was a teen athlete, I remember the changes I experienced and the positive development that I made through soccer. As a coach, I have had the experience of not only seeing teens develop first hand but also the real-life experience of my personal development. Beyond coaching the game, it is so critical to understand the stage of life that a teen is going through. I have learned so much along my coaching path and still continue to learn new things about this age group each day.
I have five key communication tips for coaches that not only have helped me have great relationships with my players but also gave them positive learning and fun life experiences during this teenager stage.
1. Take time to get to know your players outside of the game.
- When girls transition into teenagers, they are more aware of their emotions and want to know that they are truly cared about from all of the people that are in their life. Before every practice, I try to ask each player how their day was at school or just making small talk about anything. By doing this, I will be able to communicate about their interests and ask in the future about whatever was mentioned in the conversation. This seems like such a small act but I believe that my players build trust in me and know that if they did have something important to tell me, they would feel comfortable expressing that to me. This will ultimately build confidence in them to trust parents, teachers, and other key figures in their life.
2. Relate to your players.
- One of my favorite things about coaching teen girls is having been in their shoes and understanding why they think the way they do. Every teen lives a different life but they all experience the same emotions. This is the second part of getting to know your players. Obviously, once practice or a game is underway, that needs to be the main focus. But before or after, and even sometimes during that time, I try to focus on them as a person and not so much as a player. If a player is frustrated or upset, I figure out the issue and incorporate similar scenarios I have experienced and let them know that it is OK and how to get closer to the solution.
3. Praise them for good accomplishments.
- There is nothing more that a young girl needs than confidence in herself. In games, practice, or even conversation, I praise the girls for doing things well. A teenager will most likely know when she is doing something right, but giving praise when it is earned is essential for her to want to expand her talents; and this gives her the drive to do so. Young girls who aren’t praised for their accomplishments, no matter how small they may be, will always question themselves.
4. Give them constructive feedback.
- Along with being praised for doing the right things, young girls need to know what they do wrong and how to fix it. I never let anything go with my group if I believe that it is not right or they can do it better with constructive feedback. This is sometimes a sensitive topic because some girls will take feedback as a negative thing. But this is so important in their development because they start to really understand that if they continuously do the wrong thing, there will mostly likely be a negative outcome.
5. Have fun with them.
- Girls in any stage of life ultimately want to have fun and enjoy what they are doing. I always make sure that I have a laugh with my group or steer away from being 100% serious all the time. I have experienced that when I joke around during the proper time at a practice or a game, the girls are able to relax more, play better, and I can see through their performance that they are having fun and wanting to do their best.
This is great information from Lindsay that coaches from all sports can immediately use. We are looking forward to Lindsay’s next post which will focus on tips for parents when working with teenage girls.
Please tell other people about EducatedCoaches.com and how we are attempting to make the youth sports experience better for each and every participant. Have a great day!!!
Coach Brad and Coach Lindsay