Coaching Young Athletes Too Much or Not Enough?



Coaching Young Athletes

I have long contended that too much coaching when it comes to working
with very young athletes is far worse than not enough instruction.


Give them ideas of what it is you want.


Offer more instruction if they need it.


And then let them play.


Allow them to figure it out.


This process builds Athletic Intelligence and gives very young athletes the
ability to warehouse knowledge through a trial and error sort of way.


Do you agree?


Disagree and want to explain why?


Please watch this two minute video during which I explain how to correctly be
Coaching Young Athletes the process of deceleration.


Give it a watch and leave your comments below. I really want to know your
thoughts on the matter.



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well-known and gifted Youth Fitness Specialists in the world, offered information
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::Dr. Kwame Brown – The Art of Play
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:: Dr. Chris Mohr – Nutrition for the Young Athlete
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12 Responses

  1. Mark says:

    To some degree, free play is very important. However, so many young athletes have developed bad habits in their execution that are difficult to change that early on there is a need for guided free play. Let them scrimmage or invent play games 30% of the time when they are 10 years old or older (unless they are just out with friends). In practice/training sessons with 10 year olds (depending on the kid’s developement) or older, guidance in skill is very important toward proper habits to use in free play.

  2. Brian,

    This is one reason why I like to use cable/band chops to teach lateral deceleration/acceleration. By having athletes shift their weight during a band rotation, the athletes are learning about ground reaction forces. They understand why they need to stay outside the box and i usually then will follow that exercise with a more dynamic and specific lateral motion exercise. Thanks for the video.

  3. PJ says:

    Blanket statements leave me cold. Their rarely a good fit.

  4. Sheila Grant says:

    Totally agree with you. Kids need to learn to problem solve

  5. Gareth Ashton says:

    Spot on Brian. Too many people over coach and click the download button when communicating information with young athletes. Perhaps to come off sounding super intelligent to the watching parents, or to impress the kids, but in my experience if you ask a kid a couple of days later what they remember from that session they’ll recall 2-3 technical points things at best. What they will remember however are the feelings associated with achievement and enjoyment. We’re made to move, simple, it’s in all of us; subtly guide this process and remember who the most important person in this equation is.

  6. V. Reid says:

    I have been coaching for 28 years and you have ABSOLUTELY hit on the number one problem in coaching. When I first started coaching, I was developing great future coaches, but not the best wrestlers. It took me years to realize they did not need to know everything I know. I was WAY over coaching. When I figured this out, we got better and the practice room became quicker and WAY more enjoyable and personalized for our athletes.

  7. Bill Burke says:

    I agree. Less is more when it comes to getting kids to understand basic concepts. A brief demonstration and then it needs to be hands on. Thanks for the insight.

  8. Kara Kelly says:

    Plain and simple.
    When you allow a child to explore themselves under the given guidelines, you’ve given them the Gift of Empowerment.
    If they aren’t getting it or are about to hurt themself, then more instruction can be given.
    Besides, how do most of us, kids included – learn best; by listening to some adult blab or trying it for themself?

  9. Tony Essex says:

    Thanks for the very useful reminder when engaged in the art of coaching.
    In a sense, it reminds me of some advice I was given years ago when attending classes for part time lecturers. It was th following quotation.
    “I hear and I forget.
    I see and I remember.
    I do… then I understand.”
    Perhaps a 4th point could be added to those above: With a little help I could work this out for myself… Then I have experience to rely on.

  10. Laura says:

    Do we take time to question the loss of the value of play. Why must be over structure a business to remind the species of the need for exploration and play. Many our job is not codifying, marketing and selling businesses for children but politicing the educational system for opportunities to explore and play. What’s missing? I am not criticizing as much as questioning options.

  11. SoCal Brian says:

    I agree with you Brian! “Controlled” free play is great! I think you can accomplish more teaching and then learning by attentively overseeing a period of free play within your training session. Stop or slow down the activity when you see the need for correction or instruction. Let the older kids, with your supervision make some adjustments with other kids giving them some responsibility. Use this time to build confidence and leadership skills as well.

  12. Marcie says:

    Hi, Brian. I agree with not over coaching children. I have been teaching and coaching swimmers for over 35 years and have had to learn how to get myself out of the way and let them think about what I just instructed them to do. It might take a couple of tries before they get it, but if I jump in and correct them after the first try they tend to become more confused. If I can allow them to concentrate on what they heard from me and what they’re trying to get their body to do that’s new, they can often put these skills together much faster than when I try to give them too much information. I also make sure to give a compliment, then a positive correction. This helps them build confidence in themselves. I strongly encourage other coaches to learn this coaching skill of not over correcting. Relax and have fun with your kids. Good luck, and thanks for all that you’re doing.

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