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What to Say/Do on the First Day of Practice

A coach and mentor fist bumps one of his young players on the first day of practice.

The beginning of the season evokes hope, excitement and anticipation. Staring at a blank slate, a fresh season awaits. As a youth sports coach, setting the tone at the beginning of a season is important for you and your athletes. There are many different methods of how to coach throughout the season, and you will likely use bits and pieces of those methods. But starting your sports practice with the right words and right activities will open up you and your team for well-rounded success this season, regardless of your record. 

Build Trust

One of the most important things to consider on the first day of practice is that this is the first day of practice for everyone. Start the season off on the right foot by building trust with your team and assistant coaches. Show respect and get to know everyone by name. Encourage your players to learn each other’s names and get to know each other better. Building trust early in the season among everyone is key to having a fun, successful year. 

A great way to get to know each other and build trust in your team at your first practice is to try some team bonding activities. These can, but don’t have to, be related to your sport. Present your team with games or activities that require teamwork and strategy. Incorporate names as much as possible and engage with your players. 

Once you build trust and rapport within your team, you’ll know how to coach these athletes much more effectively. 

Set Expectations for the Season

As a youth sports coach, you are the leader and role model. These athletes, whether they are 6 or 16, are looking to you for guidance, coaching and improvement this season. The role of a youth sports coach often varies at different points in the season, and at the first sports practice, you should set the expectations that you want to convey for the year. 

These expectations can be both serious and non-serious. Of course you want to encourage your athletes to be competitive and win. Let your team know that you are here to challenge them, encourage them and help them improve their abilities. Give your team goals for the season, whether it is related to winning or improving certain skills or something else. 

At your first practice, you should also set the expectations that winning is not the primary objective of the season. It can be a goal along the way, but encourage them to value other aspects of the sport, as well. Set the expectation that when you’re at sports practice or games, they should be motivated while also having fun, learning, socializing and getting exercise. That is what youth sports are all about, and as the coach, you can help your team prioritize their values and goals this year. 


For young athletes, the excitement of a new season starts building as soon as they learn what team they’re going to be on. And that excitement only gets bigger when the first day of practice comes along. So, at the first sports practice of the season, let your athletes play! That is what they signed up for and that is what they are looking forward to. 

Start with some basic drills, focusing on the fundamentals of the sport. This will help them warm up for the season and get back into their routine. As the youth sports coach, you’ll also be able to see the skills and talent of your players, which will help you better understand how to approach future practices and goals for the season. 

Keep in mind that your athletes are here to play a game, and when the first practice comes around, they are likely excited to start the season. Hold initial team meetings before any practices, and save practices for player development. 

Start the Season On the Right Foot

Knowing how to coach the first practice of the season will set you up for success for the rest of the year. Keep your athletes in mind and help them build trust, get to know each other, set expectations, and of course, play the sport they signed up for. 

Before your season begins, get into peak coaching shape with training, tips and safety awareness with Trusted Coaches. We have built a robust program to help youth sports coaches in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area as they prepare for their first practice. Have your best season yet and sign up for a course, or contact Trusted Coaches to learn more.