IYCA Brand Manager Julie Hatfield Shares 4 Tips for Finding Balance When Coaching Youth Athletes
Part 1 of a 3-Part Series
By Julie Hatfield, IYCA Brand Manager
One of the most challenging things we face in the world of coaching and training is finding balance. Every coach and trainer must strike a balance between fun, skills, and conditioning. A coach’s job is endless and daunting at times. There are many challenges that we face, and no matter the athletes’ ages or skill level, it is a true art to be able to find the balance that can catapult your team and athletes to success.
That said, the number one priority is that your kids are finding enjoyment in their training. From enjoyment comes the will to succeed. Adding balance to your routine, practices, and sessions can help instill that excitement and enjoyment.
Here are some things to consider:
Let Them Play
Depending on the age of your athletes, they have minimal time to just play. It is an unfortunate reality that most kids do not climb trees, run around their neighborhoods, or play actively with their friends. Nose deep in homework, commitments, and the digital world, this concept has been lost in the structure and organization of our hustle-and-bustle world. Implementing tag games, competitions, relays, and childhood games not only refreshes their minds, but it also promotes movement and enhances enjoyment of their sport.
Teach Them Skills
Skills are an important part of each sport or training session. Teaching your athletes the specifics of their sport goes far beyond just telling them what to do. Find the resources and knowledge to actually educate your athletes on WHY they need to be doing what they are doing. Not all athletes care, but they all should understand why we do certain things certain ways. Fundamentals and mechanics are the foundation for all training. Teach them correctly and teach them well. Without that, success will typically be a challenge.
Keep Them Moving
When it comes to instruction, we spend so much time on skills that athletes stand around waiting to move. This instruction is pivotal, but therein lies the real art of coaching and finding the balance between teaching and moving. Combining your skills instruction with movement is a key element in creating athletes who can move well and perform well. Resources like the IYCA’s Big Book of Programs and CAD 2.0 are great resources to help do that.
Be Prepared, But Be Open to Change
The last bit of advice is to be prepared at every session. Our lives are busy, but we need to be sure to have a plan for every training, every practice. Write it down, but be ready to adjust it if needed. If you have a plan going in, finding the balance is much easier. Mix in equal amounts of time for skills and drills, fun, and movement for a consistent and balanced approach. Create routines, but implement new things every day. Enjoyment comes from challenges and seeing and doing new things. A new drill, a new lift, or a new game all add value and excitement and engagement in your program.
With little kids attention spans are short! No one wants to stand around in line for 20 minutes to swing a bat for 2. Break your team into smaller groups and give them all something to do that keeps them moving, keeps them thinking, and keeps them having fun!