Sports coaches must remember that they are the models of behavior. Kids are taught to respect their elders, teachers and coaches from the youngest age. When they begin playing sports, the coach is already up on a pedestal as a person of influence. As this young athlete embarks on a future in sports, it is the coach’s communication with them along with influences by their peers and parents that will impact their decision to play short term or long term. An athlete’s behavior and interaction will be enforced by a coach’s communication style. It is very important that coaches understand how to provide positive and negative messages that not only clearly conveys what is intended, but also considers how the athlete will perceive or react to the messages. A positive or negative behavior is reinforced based on the consequences of an action. Due to less experience, maturity and cognitive development, younger athletes often don’t understand negative reinforcement as a positive and they only view it as criticism; therefore you must use positive reinforcement for constructive change and consistency. As athletes become older, they have a stronger foundation and are better at handling negative criticism more as a positive influence, particularly through examples and definitions. As an example, a coach may tell a player, “That other athlete is better than you.” This will influence the older athlete to compete at the highest level as a challenge to improve skills and match the other athlete. This same comment to a younger athlete would more likely be taken as a criticism that they aren’t any good and could leave a player feeling inadequate or defeated. It is a delicate process to deliver feedback at a level that will be most impactful to players. Once understood and mastered, coaches can have the most positive influence on the athletes that compete in their program.