For youngsters, sport should really only be about one word, fun! However, ensuring that organised physical activity is enjoyable is easier said than done, with everyone having different personalities and needs in this area. So, just how can coaches ensure that they consistently put on engaging sessions?
When planning ahead for an upcoming training session, coaches should ask themselves some questions, including will my players enjoy this and would I enjoy this if I were a player? In the case of the answer to either question being no, then this should already raise alarm bells. While there are times when more specific tactical alterations or working on a particular skill will mean that enjoyment is perhaps not of paramount importance, however fun should be at the top of the agenda on most occasions. As a result, the following factors must be taken into consideration:
Particularly when coaching youngsters, elements of fun must be introduced at all available opportunities. Whilst this will enhance overall enjoyment, children will also have to use their initiative during sessions in order to succeed. As a result, participants develop both their physical and mental skills, including decision making.
Training sessions for youngsters should not be overly structured, with a more free-flowing approach generally being recommended where possible. Whether it be allowing players to have free time with the ball before a session starts or their pick of closing exercise, such actions will set the tone for both coaches and participants. As well as this, avoid telling players what the overall aim for a particular session is, instead asking them when time is up.
Away from the planning and running of a session, coaches must ensure that they have enough time to interact with their players, including both as individuals and as a group. Be sure to get to know your players, as well as creating an environment where everyone is comfortable around one another. Be sure to cater to the age of your players too, using appropriate language and topics at all times.
Allow for Mistakes
Mistakes will occur even at the highest level of sport, however this is part of the learning process for players. Upon a mistake being made, consider having a quick chat regarding what went well and what potentially needs looking at, before quickly returning to action. Be sure to set appropriate challenges on both an individual and group level, with doing so ensuring that players do not get wrapped up in mistakes or misjudgements.
Injuries can be frustrating for any athlete, however the mental approach taken by children during this time is likely to determine whether they go on to achieve their goals or simply give up on sport altogether. So, just how can parents help their child to recover from such a setback?