Step In Or Remain Silent When Coaching Kids?
Not long ago I was coaching long jump to a group of eight and nine year-olds. I was teaching them to keep their feet up and away from the sand for as long as possible before they landed in the pit. We were using a sand wall as a fun way to help them to achieve this.
During this activity I could see glaring faults in the arm action of some of the young athletes. What did I do about this problem?
I remained silent about it. Why?
Bringing focus to the arm action may have interfered with what I was really trying to achieve. It may have confused the athletes by overloading them with information. I was also pretty certain that an effective arm action was beyond the athletes’ current skill level.
The temptation to talk
It is tempting to try to teach everything at once. The urge to blurt out something as soon as we see a fault can be strong. Or the fear that if you don’t say something, others will believe that you can’t see the fault and think less of you as a coach.
I have been guilty of over-coaching at times, by making comments when they were not really needed. I think that many coaches feel that we need to be saying something to validate our existence as a coach.
You don’t have to be talking to be coaching. Sometimes making that conscious decision to say nothing is great coaching.
I think that an individual’s coaching is maturing when they are able to recognise a fault and make a conscious decision to avoid correcting it due to seeing a bigger picture.
Get comfortable with keeping quiet
Coaches and sports parents need to get comfortable with keeping quiet.
Keeping quiet can allow kids the time and space to learn, whereas too much noise can distract.
If you are a coach, instructor or sports parent try keeping quiet at times. Get into the habit of sometimes simply observing. Resist the need to interject every time an athlete does something. Stop to weigh up whether or not your feedback will actually help or hinder. Concentrate on quality rather than quantity of feedback.
Saying nothing will sometimes be the best strategy.
Let me know what you think!
Do you agree? Can you relate to this article? Have you ever caught yourself talking too much as a coach or sports parent? What are your strategies to avoid this? Let me know by leaving a reply/comment or by using the contact details below.
Darren Wensor is a sports development professional, coach educator, specialist coach of young athletes and founder of the blog coachingyoungathletes.com. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin or via email.