Great Coaching Involves Great Timing
The key to coaching kids is knowing when.
Let me explain.
Many kids are not ready for the training content that some coaches are providing them. These coaches are not critically analysing the suitability of activities, exercises or programs for their athletes’ stage of development.
Inexperienced coaches are prone to including anything and everything in a session or program that they can find, regardless of the age or developmental stage of the athlete. This is why we see kids pulling sleds, performing high intensity anaerobic sessions and high impact plyometrics with little or no lead-up.
A good coach of young athletes will consider the appropriateness of an activity for the developmental stage and ability of the athlete. They will continually make conscious decisions about what – and just as importantly – about what NOT to include in a session or program.
Good coaches are constantly assessing what and what NOT to include in their program.
This type of coaching requires the coach to have a long-term development plan for their athletes and a very strong sense of where each athlete is on this journey. A progressive, step-by-step approach to the introduction of skills, drills, exercises and training loads is crucial.
When to introduce a new activity or exercise, when to progress an athlete to a more complex skill or drill, or a greater training load is based upon the coach knowing when the athlete is ready for it. In fact, good coaches will routinely hold back on some aspects of training if they know the athlete is not ready.
In other words, it is all about great timing.
Developing Good Timing
How does a coach develop good timing? This knowledge will come with experience, learning and unfortunately some trial and error. This process can be fast-tracked by referring to resources that will help you develop a “big picture” when it comes to a young athlete’s development. I recommend books such as Conditioning Young Athletes by Tudor Bompa, PHD and Michael Carrera.
I also highly recommend studying the “Youth Physical Development Model”. This model was developed by Dr Rhodri Lloyd and Dr Jon Oliver of Cardiff Metropolitan University, recognised as two world leading experts in the field. See below an animation developed by Sports Coach UK and Sport Scotland detailing the model.
In his book 7 Keys to Being a Great Coach Allistair McCaw says:
“It’s not about having the best drills or exercises, it’s about having the RIGHT ones for your athletes at that particular time.”
It is all about great timing.
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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. Check out Coaching Young Athletes on YouTube, the Coaching Young Athletes podcast, and the Coaching Young Athletes E-Book Series.