Teaching Younger Athletes

3Here are a few guidelines that will help you to have the best results with teaching your younger athletes.

Make it fun:  This is the most important rule in developing young athletes.  In order for athletes to be interested and excel in the classroom, they must have a good time.  The class structure of discipline, respect, and concentration does not have to be compromised in order to achieve this.  Remember, there is a difference between having fun and being funny.

Don’t be overly picky about good form when they're getting started:  In time you can become more detailed.  Initially, however, be happy just having the kids follow along. 

Show a lot of examples:  Young kids learn best by copying other people.  If possible, have an older, more skilled student demonstrating and participating in the entire class and being a good example for all the little guys and gals to follow! 

Change drills often:  The average child’s attention span is very short.  To work with this fact, keep the drills even shorter.  Never do any one thing for more than three minutes.  You can, however, do a lot of repetition.  It is merely a matter of disguising the repetition. 

Praise efforts/encourage participation/celebrate often:  Initially it doesn’t matter if the athletes are improving as long as they are trying their best. This is why earnest effort should be praised.  Shy athletes should be encouraged, not forced, to do things.  Make it as easy as possible for them to participate and then celebrate their victories, giving lots of high fives, focus claps, and say “you’re awesome” a lot.

Make a big deal over effort, regardless of where they placed:   So what if someone came in fourth place in the relay race.  If you saw them give their very best effort, go out of your way to let everybody know what a great effort they gave. 

Remind athletes not to compare themselves with others:  When athletes compare themselves with others, one of two things happens.  They either get a false sense of superiority or they get a false sense of inferiority.  Remind your athletes that they win whenever they give a good effort. 

Set realistic goals followed by constant feedback: Athletes need to have a clear image of where they are going.  For this reason, it is important that each athlete has set specific goals.  It is the job of the developer or coach to help set these goals.  Remember, each young athlete has different strengths and weaknesses, and they should be taken into account.  Feedback is the breakfast of champions.  Once goals have been set, constant feedback should be given to help keep each athlete on target. 

So, cinch up your laces, pay attention, and let’s build something great together!


Richard L. Campbell  

Rick Campbell