Outside The Box Youth Coaching




Youth Coaching Strategies

Through both my articles and seminar series, I discuss the Art of youth Coaching quite frequently.


The Art of Coaching infers that it is not what you know as a coach that matters.


It’s how you can relay it to young athletes.


This is a common concern I see especially with younger coaches just out of college and still looking to impress people with there high intellect and advanced vocabulary. In fact, out industry is littered with coaches who talk a great game, seek out as much PR and notoriety as they can, but don’t truly have any degree of experience or ability when it comes to effectively applying training strategies to athletes in unique and varying settings.


In that, I want to discuss today a youth coaching strategy that I have used that truly enables young athletes to master a given technique.


Rewrite Strategies


If you have ever been driving in a car with a small group of teenagers and had a familiar song come on the radio, you have already experienced in practicality the essence of a rewrite strategy.


By most contemporary definitions, a rewrite strategy is simply “a teaching strategy designed to help students explore content area topics using music.”


For the purposes of sport and training, it involves using common musical tunes to both learn and support the retention of a given set of instructions.


Those teenagers in your car, once they hear that familiar song, all begin to sing along – word for word. That is the point… we all tend to remember the lyrics of our favorite songs. Even if 20 years has past, we can still sing the words or hum the tune of a given song, because of music’s innate ability to stay within the long-term memory of our brains.



Training Application


As you know, I am a strong proponent of teaching young athletes the skill set of a given exercise. That is, a 4-point instruction series on how to set-up their bodies prior to initiating movement (primary skill set) followed by a brief one or two instructions, which define the movement (secondary skill set).


Let’s take the basic squat for example.


My secondary skill set is as follows:


Hips Back – To ensure that the athlete is driving into hip flexion/extension and using the powerful muscles of the hip to execute rather than the anterior thigh.


In-steps Off – To protect against valgus knee motions and further elicit a kinetic chain that runs outside heel to gluten medius.


Although the young athletes are taught this sequence and have it reinforced constantly, some youngsters may still fail to execute session to session.



The Art of Youth Coaching


Many times in my career, I have used rewrite strategies to force these basic instructions into the vernacular of my young athletes’ brain.


I challenge them to take the words of my skill set and place them into the tune of a favorite song or catchy jingle that they can recount at will. Once in the form of a common tune, the skill set literally comes alive to the young athlete and they can communicate it immediately. I even have them repeat the ‘song’ in their heads as they perform the movement.


One young athlete I trained comes to mind as I am writing this article. Her name was Mary and she couldn’t seem to get her hips back during the eccentric phase of a squat. More over, her heels kept coming off the ground as she descended.


Her solution?


Mary wants to learn to squat

Learn to squat

Learn to squat

Mary wants to learn to squat

Hips back, insteps off


Say those words aloud to yourself…


Now sing them to the tune of "Mary Had a Little Lamb"


Beware… rewrite strategies work and this little jingle may stay with you for some time!


– Brian



PS – Coaching strategies and tools are just part of the unique aspect offered
in our Youth Fitness Specialist – Level 1 certification.


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3 Responses

  1. Liz Donnelly says:

    Thanks, Brian! That’s an excellent example of coaching a child.

  2. Very cute. I just may use this with my adults as well. Thanks for the tip.

  3. Aaron Willms says:

    I am an “out of college” coach and while I feel that all the theory I have been priviliged enough to learn, I know the place for me is in the trenches. In the 3 years since finishing my degree I have done the fitness club thing, worked with several different coaches and many athletes and non-athletes, young and old. I have tried to keep an open mind to different techniques and strategies for teaching, and I enjoy talking shop as much as possible. Every time I read these blogs another piece of the puzzle seems to fit right into place. One of my favourite profs told me, ” the learning never stops”. Thanks Brian.

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