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Youth coaches commit a lot of time and effort planning practice drills and game strategies to help develop and prepare their teams for competitions. Most coaches at this level are usually either former athletes themselves or have learned through watching other coaches. Without any formal training, they may be unfamiliar with different coaching styles which can lead them to train their young athletes similarly to how elite athletes are trained or in the same manner as physical education classes. This kind of environment gives an advantage to the better skilled players over the less skilled players, as it most often does not accommodate the needs of the latter group.

In order to accommodate the different levels of skills and ability on a youth team, there are several teaching styles coaches could use in order to enhance skills and motivate athletes.

The command style of coaching is the most used style by youth coaches as it allows the coach to make all the decisions. This style allows the coach to explain the drill or skill before the athletes can perform it. The coach can then observe and give feedback. This style is advantageous early in the season when a coach is trying to implement rules or instill discipline.

Practice style or passive style is where the athlete practices the skills with the coach providing only feedback.  The coach sets the skills or drills that need to be learned and the athlete carries out the tasks. The coach usually gives minimal instructions or directions during this approach. A good time to use this coaching style is during warm-ups or when carrying out a given task in small games.

The inclusion style is used by coaches when there is a varying degree of skill level on a team, as many youth sports will have. In this method a coach makes the decision in terms of the skill being learned and the activity in which the skill will be developed. The athlete’s role is to select an activity that is suitable to their skill level and as they master each skill, move to the next activity accordingly.

The divergent style is a method that promotes creativity and allows the coach to assess the different skills the athletes have attained.  In this style, athletes are given a task and must find various ways of completing it. This allows athletes to practice a skill in multiple ways. It also enhances their skills set while developing mastery of the game.

Young athletes need environments where they can have fun while at the same time developing their sporting skills. Having different coaching styles can enhance the way a coach teaches skills or drills. Knowing which style to use is art but intuitive coaches can transition for one style to another depending on the age and skill level of the athletes. Most kids participate in sports to have fun and make friends – hence, mastering skills in the sport they are participating in makes it easier for them to enjoy the sport for a long time.

References Available from the SIRC Collection:

1. Boyce B. The Effects of Three Styles of Teaching on University Students’ Motor Performance. Journal Of Teaching In Physical Education. July 1992;11(4):389-401.


3. Goldberger M, Ashworth S, Byra M. Spectrum of Teaching Styles Retrospective 2012. Quest (00336297). October 2012;64(4):268-282.

4. Hewitt M, Edwards K. Self-identified teaching styles of junior development and club professional tennis coaches in Australia. Coaching & Sport Science Review. December 2011;55:6-8.

5. Thomson W. Mosston’s Styles of Teaching: A Review of Command Style. Virginia Journal. Fall2009 2009;30(2):20-22.

6. Sanchez B, Byra M, Wallhead T. Students’ perceptions of the command, practice, and inclusion styles of teaching. Physical Education & Sport Pedagogy. July 2012;17(3):317-330.

The information presented in SIRC blogs and SIRCuit articles is accurate and reliable as of the date of publication. Developments that occur after the date of publication may impact the current accuracy of the information presented in a previously published blog or article.