7 ways to cultivate Youth Leaders on your Team

Strong teams have effective peer leaders. Make an investment and you will see conflict go down, mentorship rising and athletes staying involved in the sport for much longer.

1.    Give them a job. 

Any job will do! It can be any job. Sharing the responsibility of running a team gives leaders insight into the moving parts:

o  Give each team member--or just the team captains--responsibilities to carry through the season (e.g: book scorekeepers, book team practices, manage Snap Chat, arrive early to set up… lots of jobs to choose from.  



2. Help them lead by example.

(Thanks Jess Z.!)

Leaders should be the hardest workers out there. They set the tone for the team’s work ethic:

o Ask the leaders to research and run complimentary training like yoga or weight training.


3.    Understand that Style Matters. (Thanks Elle K.!)

As mentioned in last week’s blog, effective leaders are able to leverage diversity on their team by empowering members to express and embrace their own unique strengths:

o  Have your team captain (or rotate between team members if you don’t have a captain) lead a circle every week where each team member shares with the group what they think they have done well that week. Should be a strength-based answer focusing on something positive they did - not something they didn’t do. Only 10 minutes but the benefits will amaze you.


4.    Role model, Role model, Role model.

Don’t expect leaders to act in a certain way if you don’t model best practices--as a coach, parent or administrator. For example, if you want your team culture to deal with conflict face-to-face – don’t send texts and e-mails yourself. Instead, set the tone and let them do it:

o  Develop Team Guidelines (expectations). Make a list on a large page and put it up before every practice, team meeting, or game.


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5. Speak to them face to face.

This is kinda Role Model Part B. Effective leaders communicate effectively. Face to face works best:

o Have a quick check in with your leaders before or after every practice or game. Make it a routine. It allows them to expect the mentorship and bring questions or worries to you. 2 minutes of your time can go a long way.


6.    Schedule regular team meetings and alternate the chair person.

o  Meeting should be no longer than 1 hour:

  • What is working well? 

  • What are we worried about? 

  • Options/Ideas? 

  • Plan


1.    Teach Empathy (Thanks Abby Z!)

Last but certainly not least. Empathy drives connection and is the foundation to building strong teams. Without empathy a leader can’t relate to how their teammate is and won’t not be able to support them when they need to:

o  The key to empathy is being able to listen without passing judgement, giving advice or pointing out the bright side. Just listen. 

I would love love love to hear your ideas so we can add to this list, especially if you are an athlete or a coach. Please comment below.

Nadia KybaComment