Youth Coaching IDEA

Many people believe that the only qualification needed to coach is to have played the sport. It's helpful to have played, but there is much more to coaching successfully. Believe me the first time I stepped in front of a group of 6 year olds, it didn't make any difference to them if I had played the game before or not. Even if you haven't played the game before, you can still learn to coach successfully by following this basic IDEA:

I - Introduce the skill

D - Demonstrate the skill

E - Explain the skill

A - Attend to players practicing the skill

Introduce the skill
Players, especially young and inexperienced ones, need to know what skill they are learning and why they are learning it. Therefore, you need to take certain things into consideration when introducing a new skill.

Get your players' attention
Speak a little above your normal volume, be enthusiastic, and show them you are interested in them by looking them in the eye. Young players will see right through you if you are not sincere.

Name the skill
Give the skill a name and stick with it. This will help reduce confusion and enhance communication among your players. In addition during game time it will be easier to refer to a skill that they have learned.

Exlain the importance of the skill
It may be obvious to you why the skill is important, to your players however it may not be as clear. Offer them a reason for learning the skill and describe how the skill relates to the game they are learning to play.

Demonstrate the skill
The demonstration step is the most important part of teaching sport skills to young players who have never had the opportunity to play a sport. They need a picture to go along with the words. You as a coach will also find that you think of better ways to visually explain the skill as you are performing it.

If you are unable to perform the skill correctly, have an assistant coach (parent) or an older brother or sister perform the demonstration. Make sure that you demonstrate the skill several times, slowing down the action so players can see every movement.

Explain the skill
Players learn more effectively when they're given a brief explanation of the skill along with the demonstration. Use simple terms and, if possible, relate the skill to a previous skill that was taught. After explaining the skill ask your players to repeat your explanation. Ask questions like "What do we do first?" "Then what"? Look for confusion and uncertainty and repeat your explanation of the points that caused the confusion.

Remember, young players have a short attention span, a long explanation or demonstration will bore them. So don't spend more than a few minutes combined on the introduction, demonstration and explanation of the skill. Don't worry if the players don't seem to get it the first few times you try the skill. After a few weeks you will be amazed at how much better they have gotten as long as you continually re-enforce the skill.

Attend to players practicing the skill
After introducing, demonstrating and explaining the skill your players should be ready to attempt it. Some players will be better than others. Some won't need much guidenance from you at all, while others will need to be physically guided through the movement during the first few attempts. Helping these athletes through the skill will help them gain confidence to perform the skill on their own. Make sure you offer plenty of positive, corrective feedback.


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