High Five! It’s the universal, hi, how are you doing, good job, and so many more. I already knew this, however it became real to me this year as I agreed to coach my 6 year old’s soccer team. I am not sure if there is one single reason why, but I have 11 five and six year olds, who have responded and love the high five.
From the onset, I knew I needed a connection point, something to springboard from, something to help the kids in letting their guard down as they got to know me. This is why I turned to the high five, it is something that is less intimidating, and I have yet to meet a child who doesn’t respond well to it.
I will attempt with the following to outline several reasons why I love the high five and feel that it is deeply underrated in developing relationships with and coaching children.
The first thing a simple high five can do is serve as a source of encouragement. It can turn a frown upside down and into a smile. Trust me, I have seen this happen first hand several times this summer. It can summarize a coaching moment up and serve as a positive “go get em’.” I make it a point before each game starts and during each break to give each player a high five to encourage them that they are doing great and to keep up the great work.
A high five can also serve as a source of celebration. Whether it be after a goal is scored, a great defensive play is made, or just good solid play is happening, all my players love to celebrate an achievement with a high five. There is no better feeling to see two or more players high-fiving one another and mutually celebrating an on-field achievement.
A third way a high five is beneficial is it serves as a source of communication, especially among those kids that are shy, or just aren’t that vocal. When talking with a player and I’m not receiving a nod, or any response for that matter, other than a blank stare, I will always use a high five as a source of affirmation that what I was saying was heard and understood. I have a couple of players this year that I continuously am using this method with and it has worked time and time again for me.
It is amazing, the power a high five can have on the environment of a situation. A high five creates a more relax, more comfortable environment. It can distress things for the kids, and also creates a gesture for me, as their coach to share with them, without being weird or creepy. This was important to me to create, as I mentioned earlier, as I knew I’d have first year players that had never experienced being part of a team or soccer for that matter, and some of which this may have been their first organized social interactions with this many kids their own age.
The last, and maybe most important impact of a high five is that it helps the kids feel important and valued. I firmly believe that by giving each player individual high fives, I am acknowledging their efforts and they thrive off of it. Each child wants to be seen as important to the team and that they matter and fit in. By taking the time to reach down and give them a simple high five, the beam that radiates off their faces takes the cup, time and time again.
We conclude each game by lining up each team, players and coaches, and exchanging in high fives. This is more than a simple formality to me, it is reaffirming my belief that the high five has established itself as an important, invaluable gesture that is underutilized in our society.