Fundamentals are the Key to An Athlete’s Success in Youth Sports

By Janis Meredith | Posted 3/25/2020

When your child first starts to learn math, they begin with simple counting, not Calculus or even Algebra 2. Coaches and parents must apply this same reasoning to youth sports.

In the early stages of youth sports, kids should learn the basics to lay a foundation that will ensure a better chance of safety and enjoyment of the game.

What are the fundamentals that every child in youth sports should be learning?

Safety. No matter what sport your child plays, it’s important that they learn how to play safely. This includes wearing proper equipment and learning the correct techniques.

Basic Skills. In every sport, there are simple skills that need to be learned in an orderly way so that children can build upon knowledge and ability – like stacking skills like you would blocks. We see it in Tee Ball where small children learn how to swing a bat and hit a ball on a plastic Tee.

We should also see it in basketball where kids learn how to dribble a ball before they learn how to properly shoot. Complicated game strategies are not necessary at the younger level. And now, we need to see it implemented in football across the nation.

Teamwork. Team player athletes will undoubtedly have the most fun and experience the most success in their sports because they’ve learned that working together with others always reaps the biggest rewards. This fundamental is as important as any skill that your child may learn. 

Learning from Mistakes. If an athlete can learn this fundamental, they will be setting themselves up for future successes. I see it over and over with high school students that my husband, daughter and son-in-law coach. When they cannot learn from and move on from a mistake, there’s a good chance that their entire game that day will tank.

Fun. Sports should be fun for everyone, but the older athletes get, the more they understand the importance of combining hard work with fun. Your children can have fun while learning the basics, safety, teamwork and how to get better from mistakes.

The importance of coaching the basics is seen in USA Football’s Football Development Model. They stress that fundamentals that coaches teach during practice and parents see on the field should be taught in a progressive manner, installed as a foundation and growing in complexity.

What does this say to you as coaches and parents? Simply that we should not be in a hurry to develop kids. Be patient with them as they learn the basics and be sure they are learning them well.

Janis Meredith is a family life coach who wants to help all parents raise champions. You can find out more at


USA Football's new model for youth football is designed to make the game safer by reducing contact and by teaching the game based on an athlete's age, the skill they are learning and game type.