For many kids on your flag football team, this will be their first experience with organized sport, and you'll play an important role in their development of a "winning attitude." People with winning attitudes put the team first and show respect for opposing players, officials and fans. They make mistakes, but they don't dwell on the negative. They play to have fun, not to win trophies. As the coach, the winning attitude starts with you.
The Positive Coaching Alliance (PCA) is a non-profit organization dedicated to "transforming youth sports so sports can transform youth." The PCA talks a lot about filling the "emotional tanks" of young athletes with lots of positive motivation. If a player hears nothing but criticism, it drains his emotional tank, lowering his self-esteem and sapping the fun out of sports. The PCA encourages a "Magic Ratio" of 5:1 -- five positive reinforcements for every correction [source: Positive Coaching Alliance]. Be quick to praise players individually, even for small achievements or improvements.
The PCA also places a strong emphasis on effort and brushing off mistakes. Sports, particularly at this age, should never be solely about winning. Praise kids for effort --even unsuccessful attempts. Encourage them to take risks and make mistakes. The PCA instructs coaches to develop a team mistake ritual -- like "flushing" a mistake or brushing it off -- to push aside negative feelings and keep a positive attitude [source: Positive Coaching Alliance].
Lastly, excitement is contagious. If you're genuinely "up" during practices and games, your team will mirror your energy.