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7 tips for coaching young people online

Our Primary and Secondary school programmes have officially started, and the Yes Futures Coaching teams have been virtually supporting students through Zoom.

The first coaching session this week was new for many of the team, and we came away having learnt lots from the experience. Our team of Coaches were keen to share some of their top tips for coaching young people online to help the rest of our community.

1. Remember that the students are VERY technologically able

We have moved from in-person coaching to virtual coaching to meet the needs of the schools and work within the government guidelines regarding Covid-19. Our team has been preparing for months now, but for our Coaches, this might be their first experience using Zoom to coach.

Some Coaches have been concerned the students wouldn’t feel comfortable communicating through a tablet, or that they might not understand how it works. But this is a generation that has grown up with technology in their lives. They are very comfortable with it, and from our experience, they are using it really well! And on our programmes, our Programme Executive is on hand in school to support the students and ensure the sessions run smoothly.

2. Speak slowly and clearly and remember to give space to listen

It’s really important to speak slowly and clearly, as sometimes if the internet connection isn’t great, it can be a challenge for them to hear.

Most importantly, try to embrace the silence and pauses. It might seem like you should be chatting the whole time, but for most students, this is their first experience of coaching, and they need the space to approach it in their own time. Delays can also occur online, so try to give a good pause after you ask a question to allow them to reply.

3. Try not to shout!

Speak slowly and clearly, but do your best not to shout! The conversations you have may be sensitive and students can be nervous about meeting you. If they can’t hear you well, do your best to speak clearly, without shouting.

If you think a student can’t hear you, ask them and check-in before carrying on. Some students might be nervous about telling you if they can’t hear, so check-in if necessary.

4. Test your microphone before coming online

What will really help with the above is testing out your microphone. If you have a pair of headphones you’ve not used before, spend a bit of time talking to a friend or one of our team and test them out. There are plenty of other Coaches in the community who might be in the same position, and you could ask them for help - try our Coach Facebook Group to meet them!

5. Check your internet connection - and have a back up ready

Now your microphone is all set up and working well, make sure you’ve tested your internet connection. If you know that a specific part of your house gets the best internet connection, then stake out that space for your coaching sessions. If you know your internet connection can be temperamental, then try using a mobile phone hotspot.

6. Don’t worry about running out of time

Our coaching sessions have to fit within the school day, and with school timetables looking very different this year, you might find yourself thinking the coaching session is a bit short. To get the most out of your session, be prepared and ensure the above technological aspects are sorted and working well.

Once your coaching session starts, the most important thing for the first session will be building rapport with the student. Your Programme Executive will outline some of the desirable outcomes for the session and give you tips to use the time best, but allow the conversation to flow naturally and let the student take the lead - if you get talking about a computer game the students love, and they are passionate about it, give them the space to do that! What’s most important is that the student feels comfortable talking to you, and this can take time.

7. Give quality coaching rather than rushing things

So you have limited time, perhaps even more limited if there are internet issues. Whilst it can be frustrating, there is a lot that can be achieved in a short period of time. If you let the young person you’re supporting know they have been heard, and this time and space are for them, that is a great start to a strong coaching relationship. It can take time to see the results of coaching, so be patient and trust the process.


If you know someone interested in Coaching, we are regularly recruiting for our programmes. They can get in touch through our Becoming a Coach page on the website.

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