Part 2: Coordination – Can You Teach Young Athletes?
The answer, in short, is yes.
Coordination ability is not unlike any other biomotor – proficiencies in strength, speed, agility and even cardiovascular capacity (through mechanical intervention) can be taught, and at any age.
The interesting caveat with coordination-based work however, is that its elements are tied directly to CNS (Central Nervous System) development and therefore have a natural sensitive period along a chronological spectrum. The actuality of sensitive periods tends to be a contentious topic amongst researchers and many Coaches – some of whom are not satisfied with current research and therefore not eager to believe in their existence and others who accept sensitive periods of development to be perfectly valid. It’s worth pointing out that I am in no way a scientist or researcher, but have read numerous books and research reviews on the subject and feel satisfied that they do exist and can be maximized (optimized for a lifetime) through proper stimulus.
A coach or trainer must possess a firm grasp of applied pedagogical science and have the ability to convert that knowledge into its practical art form.
Gone are the days of the ‘one size fits all’ approach to working with athletes. You cannot assume nor expect a given group of athletes, with their varying personalities and temperaments, to relate and respond to a singular style of coaching.
The aristocratic and authoritarian coaching style, long considered the most effective means of handling a group of athletes, is in actuality, a surefire way to negate the potential benefits of a lesson or training session.
From an ease of coaching perspective, it would be a wonderful scenario for us to only to work with those athletes whom were supremely motivated and exceptionally gifted, but in reality, this is seldom the case.
In any given group setting you have to accept the notion that your athletes will be divided in terms of both ability and motivation, and represent an eclectic cross-section of the following potential personalities:
– High Motivation/High Skill
– High Motivation/Low Skill
– Low Motivation/ High Skill
– Low Motivation/Low Skill
Each one of the sub-classifications above represents an athlete in need of a particular coaching style in order to gain and retain your speed and movement shaping lessons optimally.