Youth Sports Coaching Must Reads

As a youth sports coach, you have endless responsibilities to your athletes and team. From demonstrating technique and teaching gameday strategy, to reinforcing the ideas of discipline and sportsmanship, your job can quickly become overwhelming. 

To help alleviate stress, and to hopefully make your job more manageable, we’ve provided a list of coaching resources for you to use this season. Included are some of the best sports coaching books, information-packed websites, podcasts, articles, downloads, and courses that provide valuable tools and guidance for your coaching career.

We have organized these sports leadership books, resources, and must-read guides by purpose (e.g., Team-Building, Safety and Injury Prevention, Confidence Building for Young Athletes, and more) to make it easy to find the support you need. From the team at gearUP, thank you for all you do!

Jump straight to the section you need now, or peruse the entire list at your leisure!

“Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard.” – High School Basketball Coach Tim Notke.

Reading List and Resources for Youth Sports Coaches

Coaching Tools

In this section, you’ll find resources for youth sports coaches that focus on fundamentals. Some are sport-specific, like our volleyball coaching tips, while others apply across all youth sports.

The Winning Youth Coaching Podcast: Youth Sports | Coaching | Parenting | Family Resources Interviewing successful youth sports coaches worldwide, this compelling series provides insights and tools from learning to be organized and effective to how to win.

Positive Coaching Alliance pulls together resources for coaches, athletes, parents, and leaders alike. The mission is to help you create a positive and inclusive youth sports culture that supports social and emotional skills and athletic techniques.

LA84 Foundation is rich in resources for youth sports coaches. Discover grants, coaching education with targeted recordings and downloads, as well as in-person events at the local level, national, and worldwide.

3D Coach: Capturing the Heart Behind the Jersey (Heart of a Coach) is a sports leadership book by Jeff Duke. It focuses on the three dimensions of coaching: game skills (1st Dimension), coaching the mind (2nd Dimension), and transforming the heart (3rd Dimension). 

I9 Sports® provides coaches with coaching guides, practice plans, coaching videos, stat sheets, rule books, and more organized by youth sport. The I9 mission is to “help kids succeed in life through sports.”

Highlighting the BEST of Youth Sports is a podcast devoted to youth sports topics like young athletes, motivation, youth sports highlights, navigating social media with young athletes, and more.  

Little League University Resources for Coaches offers articles, videos, and downloads covering a wide range of topics essential for youth sports coaches. While focused on baseball, this first and largest youth sports organization has much to share with coaches of all sports.

Sport Coaching & Leadership Blog is dedicated to coaching youth sports. It is hosted by Michigan State University, College of Education, Department of Kinesiology.

ART OF COACHING PODCAST is part of a larger website filled with resources for coaching and mentoring young athletes. Free podcasts and paid online video courses are available.

On the Whistle – Youth Sports Podcast focuses on coaching youth sports, with multiple episodes grouped under topics like Community, Leadership, Mentorship, Resilience, Responsibility, and Youth. 

Safety and Injury Prevention

Athletes’ safety has always been a top concern for parents and youth sports coaches. Today, we know so much more about the lifelong implications of injuries like concussions, and we have more tools to prevent them. 

CPR & First Aid in Youth Sports™ Training Kit by The American Heart Association equips coaches, parents, and young athletes alike with steps on what to do in the case of a medical emergency. CPR, choking, and sports injuries are covered in detail.

HEADS UP to Youth Sports is a collection of concussion information resources for youth sports coaches, parents, and athletes. It was created by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Care of the Young Athlete (2nd Edition) is a best-selling, award-winning book compiled by the American Academy of Pediatrics Council on Sports Medicine and the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons.

Youth Sports Concussion Safety Center offers various resources devoted to comprehensive concussion education. Sponsored by® and designed for youth sports parents, it also has great value for coaches.

CoachSafely® Foundation is a non-profit website dedicated to training youth sports coaches. Learn about practice injury prevention, recognition, and response focused on young athletes who present injuries differently from adults. 

Safe Kids Worldwide – Sporty Safety 101 is a non-profit website formed to help families, coaches, and communities to support young athletes while protecting them from injury.

At Your Own Risk: Athletic Training has a mission to “educate, provide resources and equip the public to act and advocate for safety in work, life, and sport.”

National Athletic Trainers Association advocates for athletic training at all levels of sports. Educational books, blogs, and training materials are available for youth sports coaches.

Healthy Children is devoted to the health issues children experience throughout life. The linked section to this non-profit provides videos and articles dedicated to sport-specific safety. 

Team Building 

While many of the best sports coaching books and podcasts direct a chapter or an episode to team building, the resources in this section focus primarily on the subject.

Positive Coaching Alliance developed research-based training and resources for coaches, parents, athletes, and leaders. Their goal is to create an inclusive and positive youth sports experience for all kids regardless of socio-economic background or talent.

InSideOut Coaching: How Sports Can Transform Lives by Joe Ehrmann is one of the best sports leadership books on the market. Gain fascinating insights and actionable advice from this former Syracuse University All-American and NFL star.

The Art of Motivation for Team Sports – A Guide for Coaches by Jim Hinkson provides youth sports coaches with details and tips for motivating their entire team. Work on goal-setting, individual leadership, and practice drills to bring the team together.

Recommendations for Communities – Helping Community Leaders Establish a Strong and Positive Youth Sports Culture is a download presented by the National Alliance for Youth Sports. It proposes work toward strengthening youth sports programs.

Confidence Building for Young Athletes

One of the greatest benefits of youth sports is the opportunity to build self-confidence and strong, healthy bodies. The resources in this section will help you learn how to build a child’s confidence in sports and nurture their self-esteem.

Building Confidence in Young Athletes podcast features interviews with youth sports coaches, parents, authors, professors, and others seeking to identify and overcome mental game challenges in sports. The overarching goal is to instill confidence and success in child and teen athletes.

7 Ways to Help Your Athlete Be Confident offers practical steps to building confidence in young athletes, such as “Create Incremental Opportunities for Success.”

The Strong Female Athlete: A Female Athlete Guide to Improve Performance, Reduce Injury, and Increase Confidence by Erica Suter is an evidence- and experience-based text with a fresh approach to building speed, strength, resilience, and confidence in young female athletes.

The Confident Sports Kid CD Program (Peak Performance Sports) is a seven-day program designed for youth sports coaches, parents, and kids to boost young athletes’ performance and joy in the game.

Coaching a Female Athlete is dedicated to sharing strategies for fostering learning, skills, and personal growth for female athletes worldwide. This resource is available to coaches, parents, and athletes.

Building Confidence in Young Athletes podcast is hosted by Ultimate Sports Parent Radio. It aims to help all coaching youth sports to instill confidence and success in child and teen athletes.

6 Steps to Developing Confident Athletes online course explores basic psychological principles to help youth sports coaches learn how to build a child’s confidence in sports and help them manage anxiety. 

The Talent Code: Greatness Isn’t Born. It’s Grown. Here’s How. by Daniel Coyle is one of the best sports coaching books for those working with young athletes. The Talent Code provides coaches and parents with the tools to maximize potential.

Developing Sportsmanship

Developing sportsmanship is far more than getting kids to be polite during competition. It lays a foundation for how kids interact on and off the field, teaching them life lessons that build character and create lasting benefits.

True Sport is a non-profit website providing educational tools for youth sports coaches to help children build life skills and core values on and off the field. This resource page contains videos and articles about developing sportsmanship.

Coaching is Teaching at Its Best! Built around the book by the same name, this guide is written by Harold “Bud” Boughton, a former college football player, coach, and educator. 

How to Coach Kids is a non-profit organization sponsored by Nike and the United States Olympic Committee. It teaches those coaching youth sports how to foster self-confidence, resilience, and good sportsmanship in young athletes.

Coaching for Character: Reclaiming the Principles of Sportsmanship by Craig Clifford and Randolph Feezell is a sports leadership book that provides youth coaches with the tools they need to develop teams and individual athletes of character and self-discipline.

Mental Health

Youth sports can be intense. We now have a better understanding of how mental health is essential for athletes of all ages. Youth sports coaches use these tools to balance the competitive spirit and the will to succeed with care for the young and developing brains and psyches in their care. 

Student Mental Health and Suicide Prevention is an elective course provided by the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS). It helps those coaching youth sports to identify stress, anxiety, and depression and to provide the needed support.

Mental Health in Athletes: 45 Resources to Help You Cope is offered by the non-profit organization Master’s in Social Work (MSW). It provides 45 resources to help coaches and athletes develop and maintain mental health.

LEAD: Let’s Empower Advocate and Do is a national non-profit organization founded by eight high school sophomores. Today, LEAD is recognized as an industry leader in mental health.

The Psychology of Recovering from a Sports Injury is a fascinating article for those coaching youth sports. Sponsored by Children’s Hospital Colorado, it delves into the physical and mental stages of recovering from an injury like a torn ACL.

Athletics and Mental Wellness is a blog sponsored by Psychology Today, focused on strategies to achieve optimum performance in sport and life, emphasizing youth sports.

Emotional Injuries Center is sponsored by®. Get expert advice on how kids experience bullying, hazing, and being cut from a team. This website acts as a guide for coaches to help ensure sports are safe for children.

National Alliance for Youth Sports: Mental Health Challenges is a non-profit organization offering training for coaches and parents of young athletes on understanding and supporting mental health in young athletes.

Society of Health and Physical Educators or SHAPE America is a national non-profit organization that works with Health and P.E. teachers and those coaching youth sports to help kids lead healthy, active lives. 

US Center for Mental Health & Sport produces brochures, articles, counseling, and sport-focused mental health awareness training for youth sports coaches and athletes at all levels. 

Mental Health Best Practices is a download created by the NCAA and focuses on understanding and supporting student-athlete mental wellness. 

Communication and Motivation

Resources listed here help youth sports coaches learn to communicate in a way that connects with young athletes and motivates them, on and off the field.

Teaching and Motivating Youth Athletes—A Personal Perspective is an in-depth discussion of the subject sponsored by the National Strength and Conditioning Association.

5 Communication Tips for Youth Sports Coaches by iSport360 shares an article that provides clear, actionable tools to help coaches communicate constructively with young athletes.

Athletic Coaching: A Communication Perspective by Gregory A. Cranmer is one of the best sports coaching books on the market dedicated to communication.

Sport Psychology for Youth Coaches: Developing Champions in Sports and Life by Ronald E. Smith and Frank L. Smoll is a practical guide that helps youth coaches create rewarding experiences for all their athletes.

6 Tips for Motivating Young Athletes is an article from the Ohio University Department of Athletic Administration that provides clear, actionable guidance for communicating with young athletes and motivating them.

Diversity and Inclusivity

While every youth sports coach may dream of developing the next Serena Williams or Michael Phelps, the reality is just as rich. Each one guides the next generation of parents, entrepreneurs, artists, and community leaders. Youth sports are a benefit to all who participate. So, these resources help coaches make their teams more inclusive and supportive of kids with different abilities and from diverse backgrounds.

Youth Celebrate Diversity is a grassroots organization of students and educators fighting for social justice and making schools safe and inclusive for all.

How to Get (and Keep) Girls Playing is a download sponsored by Nike. It guides those coaching youth sports to engage and retain girls in sports. 

Game Plan for Coaches: Creating Safe and Inclusive Teams for LGBTQ+ Athletes provides best practices for supporting LGBTQ+ athletes on your team as a download.

Inclusive Sport Design offers a great source of resources that help youth sports coaches to choose and achieve goals for inclusion and diversity on their teams.

Including and Coaching Individuals With Disabilities in Recreational Youth Sport Programs is a division of Rutgers Youth Sports Research Council and provides case studies demonstrating the transformational power of sports in the lives of youth with disabilities.

Coaching to Support Inclusion of Young Athletes With Disabilities seeks to inspire those coaching youth sports to embrace the natural variation of physical and intellectual abilities of their team members.

How to Coach a Kid on the Autism Spectrum by MOJO Sports describes how small efforts can make a big difference when coaching a kid with autism.

The Inclusion toolkit is an E-Sports resource center for inclusiveness in youth sports and shares articles, guides, videos, tutorials, and tips for engaging with kids of all backgrounds.

The American Association of Adapted Sports Programs provides resources for youth sports coaches to learn how to make their team accessible to disabled kids who want to play.

How to Coach Girls by Alison Foley and Mia Wenjen is one of the best sports leadership books on coaching girls’ teams across all sports.

At gearUP, we support youth sports coaches by managing their custom athletic uniforms, allowing them to focus on team fundamentals. We ship top-quality custom uniforms direct to athletes, so they’ll have them on time for game time!

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