The project aims to create a best practice model, issued from activities carried on real sport activities to provide clear technical guidelines for trainers, coaches and sport association.


It is defined as coaches’ and athletes’ intention to maintain their athletic relationship and implies the athletic dyad’s cognitive orientations for the future (cognitive aspect).

  • Create a warm atmosphere, full of tolerance and respect, both in personal relationship with each child and in relationships within a group of children, so that the children can feel club as a safe place where they enjoy spending time and training as an activity that makes pleasure.

  • Make every effort to have personal contacts with your athletes to gain a better understanding of each athlete’s character, temperament and personality traits and tailor approach and training style to each athlete. In this way, you will get to know each athlete better and increase your sense of closeness and confidence.

  • Encourage athletes to feel free to ask you questions whenever they have any doubts or something is not clear enough to them. In this way, you will show them that you are interested in how they think and that you care about working on improving physical skills.

  • Listen to what the athlete wants to tell you. Dedicate yourself to the athlete, look him/her in the eyes, nod your head to show that you are listening to him. Ask additional questions to make sure you understand what your athlete wants to tell you.

  • Pay attention to changes in athlete’s behavior, feelings and motivation. Find a good opportunity to ask the athlete how he/she is feeling, about the events in his/her life. Show to the athlete that you are there for him/her to listen to and help if he/she wants to.

  • Accept and respect each athlete’s problems, worries and emotions. Do not diminish their importance by telling him/her that it is nothing and how it will pass, but show to the athlete that you understand how he/she feels and that it is okay to have such feelings. Remember that even the smallest problem at a given moment can be a significant problem for a child.

  • Show to the athletes that you really care about them and their success, by being present at trainings and competitions not only physically but also mentally, that is, that you will show your involvement, interest and commitment to their sports development at every opportunity.

  • Have a pre-designed training and competition plan. Also, participate together with the children in designing their personal goals and training plans. In that way, children will have a more adequate insight into their progress process, and they will also have confidence in your work.

  • Make sure you always find a reason to praise each athlete for something they are really good at, for their hard work or effort. Do this even in situations where the child does not succeed. Do not judge on the basis of final achievement and do not resort to false praise. Remember that praise and reward are among the most powerful motivational tools.

  • Be realistic with children. Show that you believe in their specific capacities, emphasize the qualities of each child individually as well as the aspects that should be worked on in order to be even better.

  • Support athletes in practicing aspects where they are not the most successful. Support and encourage them further. If they have low self-esteem, occasionally put them to train or compete with their equals or with those weaker than themselves, and not with the better ones.

  • Talk to the athletes after each competition. Ask them what they are happy with and what they are not, how they feel, what they think they could improve in their performance and the game of the whole team (for team sports). Normalize unpleasant feelings if they are expressed by reminding them that it is okay to feel sadness, anger, rage, doubt their own self-confidence and that this is normal after a defeat, failure or poorly played game or bad performance. Encourage them by reminding them of the pleasant feelings they had after training / matches that they were happy with.


It refers to feeling emotionally close with one another in the coach-athlete relationship (affective aspect).

  • Promote tolerant and athletic behavior. In all situations, support a fair-play sport mode. Remember that you are a model of behavior that children will adopt.

  • Be an authority to athletes. In addition to a friendly attitude towards children, it is necessary to be strict, fair and consistent, respectively to take the position that the same rules always apply to everyone regardless of the circumstances, your mood or the result of the match/performance.

  • Find out about current topics of interest to the athletes you are training that you can discuss with them in between training sessions or exercises.

  • Try to get as close as possible to the way athletes think, use language (jargon) in communication that is specific to their age, interests and the environment in which they live. Use humor, examples from your own life, examples from the lives of famous athletes who are popular for the generation you work with.

  • In addition to training time, try to provide athletes with time that will be dedicated to their socializing with each other.

  • Control unpleasant own emotions and behaviors (anger, impulsive reaction, intense fears …). You try not to experience inappropriate reactions of children on a personal level and to react to them calmly and be collected. Be aware of your own weaknesses and try to work on their elimination, discussing the problem situation with colleagues or experts from the club (psychologist).

  • Build and nurture a relationship of trust. Always talk openly and honestly with your athletes, and ask them to do the same. You try to listen to them actively, dedicatedly and to really understand what they want to tell you.

  • Do not look down from the height on the athletes, do not judge them, do not belittle them, do not use rude jokes, do not insult them. Keep in mind that in addition to parents and teachers, you may be one of the persons crucial for their psychophysical and / or future professional development.

  • Do not talk about athletes when they are not present, nor comment negatively on other children in their presence. Do not share the content of conversations with children in personal contact with the rest of the group. Do not retell the contents of conversations with children unknown to them.

  • In order to maintain a relationship of trust, to the parents, as well as to the other adults, do not pass on the contents of conversations with athletes, unless you have received the approval of children or if the content of the conversation does not threaten the safety and dignity of children. Strive to establish a cooperative relationship with parents, regularly report to them on the behavior and progress of children in the training process, and at the same time respect the information about children that you receive from them.

  • Be sensitive to differences between athletes that may be due to gender differences, age (developmental) stages, cognitive and emotional capacities, temperament, moral development, development of social skills, physical predispositions, health status, individual specifics, differences in cultural, socio-economic , religious and family context.

  • Set clear rules of behavior with athletes during and outside of training. Agree on how to reward for following the rules, as well as the consequences if the rules are not followed. Be consistent and persistent in adhering to defined rules. In this way, you will help children develop responsibility for their own behavior.
    Act in accordance with the advice you give to children, be consistent in your behavior, in relation to the set rules and given promises. Only in this way will children adopt desirable forms of behavior.

  • From time to time, give each athlete individually, as well as the group / team as a whole, feedback on training behavior and the level of progress achieved in the training process, and based on that, redefine training goals and plans together.

  • Pay attention to non-verbal communication and messages that you send to athletes in this way (body language, facial expression, tone of speech…). It is necessary for it to be harmonized with what you are verbalizing. Also, it is necessary that your verbal and non-verbal communication follows the content and tone of what the athlete is telling you (for example, if the athlete is sad, you should not have a smile on your face).

  • Avoid commanding communication. Communicate in a way that is more motivating, proactive, collaborative. It’s okay to be serious, but whenever the situation allows, be cheerful and don’t forget to smile.

  • If you make a mistake in your relationship with the children during the training, please accept it, and show how you feel and apologize if necessary. By behaving like this, you will be a model of desirable behavior in the same and similar situations, you will show that it is okay to make mistakes, and athletes will respect your honesty.

  • Show by your own example the importance of hard work and perseverance. Share a story with children about your successes, achievements, sports results that you are proud of.

  • Motivate children to stay in sports by pointing out by their own example the benefits that sport has brought you after finishing it (high self-confidence, organization, acquaintances, travel, good work …).


It refers to feeling emotionally close with one another in the coach-athlete relationship (affective aspect).

  • Athletes feel light and easy when they train with a coach
  • When they train with their coaches, athletes feel that they respond to their requests
  • When they train with their coaches, athletes are ready to do their best
  • When they train with their coaches, athletes have a friendly attitude
  • Nurture a positive and supportive climate in the training process, which will be largely based on sincere praise, rewards, encouragement and highlighting the good sides of each athletes’s performance.

  • Design trainings that will be fun and attractive for athletes and look like a game. You try to introduce something new at every training. You can use various props that can be borrowed from other sports, change the way you train, record trainings, bring guest coaches or lecturers, introduce changes in clothing, use humor, music and similar.

  • Develop an atmosphere of sportsmanship, fair play, mutual respect, support, appreciation and tolerance. Teach children empathy, that is, understanding the feelings and behavior of others.

  • You try to empathize with the children, to put yourself in their position, and in that way try to understand how they feel in the various situations they go through.

  • Adapt the training style and context to each athlete, taking into account differences in relation to gender, age (developmental stage), individual specifics, physical skills, social, emotional and moral maturity, motivation and level of involvement of children.

  • Create trainings so that each athlete will be able to show their qualities. Avoid situations where athletes may feel unsuccessful.

  • Try to have the same attitude towards each athlete, without favoring or neglecting individual athlete. Regardless of the existing differences in abilities and skills, try to devote equal time to each athlete and to be approximately equally involved in the game / performance.

  • Have realistic expectations of athletes to avoid the negative consequences and frustrations of the athletes.

  • Emphasize that the best result, ie victory, should not be the ultimate goal of the competition, but the investment of maximum effort and effort of each athlete.

  • Motivate athletes by telling them to believe in them. Remind them of good moves and results from the past, encourage them when they are not doing well. Explain to them that the days when they achieve poorer results and experience defeats are an integral part of every athlete’s career from which they can learn a lot.

  • Avoid open criticism. After praising what they are doing well, calmly and in a moderate tone of voice, point out to the athlete the aspects of training that he needs to work on more, give him precise, short and clear guidelines on how to improve the aspect that is not satisfactory.

  • When pointing out what the athlete is not doing best, specify the specific behaviors, technical segments, and performance aspects that need to be worked on. Never evaluate the characteristics and abilities of the athlete, so that the athlete would not interpret a bad result as his/her own inadequacy.

  • Allow children to express their opinions about the quality of training, the relationship with the coach and other children and the experiences from the competition. You can achieve this by talking in a group, in person with each child, or in writing by filling out anonymous surveys.

  • Pay attention to each child personally, show that you are interested in how they feel and what is happening in sports as well as in their life that goes beyond the sports context (school, family, environment…). If the child does not want to talk, respect that, do not insist on the conversation, but show that you are there for him.

  • Organize activities (team building) that will be outside the context of training in order to work on strengthening the relationship between coaches and children as well as to increase cohesiveness within the team or group of children (organizing a party, going on a trip, cinema, attending a sporting event).

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The European Commission's support for the production of this publication does not constitute an endorsement of the contents, which reflect the views only of the authors, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.