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.
Developing young athletes is not based solely on a given conditioning
coach’s understanding of scientifically valid measures of motor stimulus,
strength training or flexibility exercises. In fact, it could be argued that
given all of the critical information contained in this textbook on exercise
selection, methodology and sensitive period development, successful
coaches will be the ones who can teach and relay information to young
athletes well, more so than the coach who merely reads and digests the
scientific information offered via clinical research.
The science of developing young athletes, then, is centered in the particular
technical information associated with pediatric exercise science whereas
the art of developing a young athlete is based on a coach’s ability to teach.
There are several styles of coaching that do not adequately serve to aid in
a young athlete developing skill, yet are none-the-less common amongst
North American coaches and trainers.
An example of this would be the ‘Command Coach’. Command coaches
presume that the young athlete is a submissive receiver of instruction. The
instructions given and information offered moves in one direction only:
from the coach to the athlete. Coaches who display this habit believe that
coaching success is based on how well the athlete can reproduce the skills
as taught or demonstrated by the coach.
There are also various misappropriations relating to how young athletes
actually learn –