The primary coaching style we want to use with our youngest athletes is called outcome based coaching. This style of coaching puts more emphasis on the outcome of the activity or exercise you have asked for from from your athletes.
Outcome based coaching utilizes very little cueing or technique modifications if any. Our 6-9 year old athletes can suffer from goal confusion, leading to frustration and a less than average experience. As athletic revolution franchisees our goal must be to provide an exciting, memorable and remarkable experience – EVERY TIME.
A communicative coaching style such as outcome based coaching is exactly what a young person needs to ensure the indoctrination of a healthy physical culture. At some point in life every athletic career ends. Our role is to provide an opportunity for their ability to move and exercise to continue long into their adult lives…no matter their current level of sporting success.
In addition, it is imperative that a young athlete discovers movement patterns on their own as much as possible. The central nervous system is considered more plastic for a young athlete. That is, a young athlete’s CNS is very sponge like or magnet like. Internal and external stimulus is more readily assimilated, learned from and transferred to movement patterns. This aspect of neural development is a crucial component of the natural development of a child. Let your young athletes “Discover” movement patterns on their own.
Here are some practical concepts to think about as you engage in outcome based coaching:
Be careful what you ask for. If you cue your athletes to skip across the length of your facility and what a few of them perform is a high skip in a zig pattern…they are STILL giving you what you asked for. Encourage their creativity followed by layering one or two appropriate boundaries with simple cueing. In this example ask the entire group to skip in a straight line on the next try.
Be a reflective coach. During and after your sessions reflect on the effectiveness of your coaching cues. Take note of what was successful and what you and your coaches need to improve on. Communicating more effectively with your young athletes will only result in more fun for them..and you!
Praise and praise often. When a child gives you their interpretation of what you asked of them praise them for it. If modifications or boundaries need to be communicated use simple cuing. For instance, a lunge walk with a pronounced forward lean at the hips can be corrected by saying “heads up, eyes up, or reach for the sky”.
Use names. Calling and praising a child by name will add tremendous value to the relationship building process and significantly increase the enjoyment your young athletes experience while in your care. In short, it makes it personal.
Take these concepts and coach your young athletes with your heart first, head second.
Many articles, books and information products discuss the development of speed from its physiological perspective of bio-motor enhancement.
How to get athletes stronger so as to create more force production and absorption.
How many sets and reps are necessary in a given training program in order to elicit the greatest possible hypertrophic response.
How long should the rest times be between sprints or cone drills so as to ensure maximum recoverability.
These are all valid considerations and the purpose of this article is not to diminish their value.
The pursuit of lasting speed and movement enhancement with your athletes however, should not be reduced to learning and applying just the overviews of quality programming. There is a much larger picture to consider – and it requires a more long-term approach and keen eye from a coaching perspective.
I often refer to this as "Ignorant Child Abuse". Most parents and Coaches like this don’t truly understand the complexity of what they’re doing wrong. I don’t mean to excuse them or vilify them at all, but it’s a lack of understanding regarding neurological, mental and emotional development that has gotten us to where we are in youth sports.
From an "X’s & O’s" perspective, the teaching this golf pro is trying to do is both a moot point and entirely destructive from a future developmental perspective. At Matthew’s age, the key ingredient in athletic development is free play. Experience by doing. Learning via attempting.
This trial and error process of experimental movement is critical in creating what I call "Athletic Intelligence." Not unlike school, when we over-quantify what it is we want kids to do, we don’t allow their CNS to establish a frame of reference regarding understanding the pathology of why something works the way it does. That’s why elementary school is informal from a strict studying perspective. Teachers provide lessons and framework, but then allow students to experiment with finding results. That process is imperative in building a level of cognitive functioning that allows for future, more complex areas of study to be understood.
But then again, maybe it’s something you really need to hear.
I say that because we all ‘seem’ to know it, but then whenever I
have a conversation with a Coach or Trainer about the topic,
I see the same mistakes being made over and over again.
So here it is bluntly –
Speed Training should not produce fatigue in your young athletes.
Again, it’s a ‘fact’ that every Coach and Trainer seems to
understand from a theoretical perspective, but seldom implements
properly in a practical setting.
Your work-rest ratios when programming for speed must be set
in such a way that your young athletes are fully recovered before
the next set commences.
Anything less than complete recovery means that CNS is not
firing with optimal capacity and you are, in fact, training lactic
acid threshold instead.
There are two ways to ensure that your young athletes are
recovered well between sets:
1) Make the ‘work’ portion of your speed training days low volume.
Rather than running 100 or 200 meters, work at acceleration in
10 and 20 meter bursts. That limited work output will require a
much smaller window of recovery.
2) Script a work-rest relationship of roughly 1:3 in terms of time.
Recovery is largely dependent on the condition of your young
athletes but is also very individually specific. Be wary of this
individual specification and be sure to ‘watch’ your athletes in
between sets for signs of full recovery.
Have a wonderful weekend!
PS Want to learn more about proven strength and speed training with young athletes
systems for young athletes?