Young Athletes Programming in a Small Space
By Dave Gleason
At Athletic Revolution South Shore we have 2500 sq feet in total.
Our usable space is approximately 1600 sq feet with an open
turf area of only 1300 sq ft. We max out our session at 16-18
athletes per session. As the kids get older and can cover more
ground quicker – it is imperative to prepare our programming
with this in mind.
Here are a few strategies that have worked extremely well for us as we program for our young athletes 6-18 years old.
Staff – As skilled coaches we can certainly run large groups very
effectively. However, beyond merely executing a great session
we need to remind ourselves of the immense gravity of connecting
with our athletes. Once more it becomes increasingly more difficult
to observe all of your athletes to make recommendations, set
cues, regress or progress the movement. We have a minimum
of 2 staff on the floor at all times.
Cascading – We will have the athletes form 2-4 lines (especially
the Exploration because we try to avoid lines for our Discovery
classes) to perform the activity. When they reach the far end
of the turf they turn to the left and continue back to the start.
This can work very well for ambulating active range of motion
and general preparatory exercise.
Rows – For movements such as accelerations, skip loops and
bear crawls we form two rows, one behind the other. When
the first row reaches half way, the next row begins.
Circle up – Our Exploration classes are now accustomed to
engaging in MFR and active range of motion activities as our
classes begin. With a class of 16 kids they will form one large,
or small circles. Discovery athletes always enjoy circles…they
know it means something fun is coming!
Spread em’ out – Another very effective way to observe your
young athletes is to have them spread out so you can view each and
every one of them during the activity. We use spot markers
(agility discs) for our Discovery classes to add some continuity
to where they are. Be cognizant of the child trying to hide
behind another athlete or in the corner.
Split the room – Lay out cones down the center of the turf area.
Half the athletes at one end of the turf and half at the other.
You can instruct them to stop at the center line, turn around at
the center line and return to the start, or even pass each in the
middle during some activity (great for spatial awareness and
As you create your programs, contemplate how the activities and
movements you have chosen fit into these mechanisms of
organizing your young athletes. It will provide the context for fantastic
classes and remarkable results!