Youth Sports Think Tank 2019 Day Two Review

How To Create Momentum In Your Training Sessions

“Perhaps the session might look a bit disorganised from the outside. Yet the outside doesn’t count if you know it is good on the inside.”

Dan Cottrell

Welcome to my Day 2 review and summary of the GO! Chase Excellence in Youth Sports Virtual Think Tank.

My review focuses on one presentation that I have viewed in the last 24 hours.

Each of my reviews follows the format of the Think Tank ‘Workbook & Reflection Journal’ provided alongside each of the sessions:

  • What – What issues does this session address?
  • So What? – Why are these issues important?
  • Now What? – How can I address these issues or implement the ideas in this session?

Today’s Review

Today’s review is from the “Cultivate” track. The “Cultivate” track is focused on helping coaches create the best possible culture on their team, in their club and among their colleagues.

The presentation I chose today was Dan Cottrell’s “How To Create Momentum In Your Training Sessions”.

Dan is the Editor of Rugby Coach Weekly and is Content Champion of Connected Coaches.


Dan’s presentation is about coaches creating a learning environment that their athletes love and that the coach loves delivering.

One of the keys to this is creating sessions with momentum.

A session with momentum is one in which both the coach and the athletes feel an impetus, energy and gathering force. Sessions with momentum are dynamic and the athletes are engaged.

The coach is coaching in a way that fits their style, connecting with their athletes, and is creating the right space in which learning can occur.

Dan suggests that coaches take a step back, be more adaptable and less controlling in their approach to a session. This involves:

  • Relaxing the focus on achieving session learning objectives. Instead set session themes that link to the season’s learning objectives.
  • Having flexible timings and progressions.
  • Empowering athletes to come up with suggestions and solutions and lead parts of the session.
  • Provide a space in which athletes can make mistakes, discover, and reflect.

This, of course does not mean a coach “steps out” of a session and it is certainly not “lazy” coaching. In fact the coach is constantly monitoring, adjusting, listening, suggesting, connecting, challenging, intervening where necessary and skilfully steering proceedings.

So What?

Coaching should lead to learning. The environment that Dan describes will promote learning.

A coach will coach better if they are enjoying what they are doing. Athletes will learn better if they are motivated. Motivation is thought to be closely linked to feelings of autonomy and connection.

Now What?

I loved Dan’s idea of relinquishing some control, relaxing the structure of practises and being prepared to go with the flow, all while maintaining a close involvement and guiding hand. The coach maintains control without being controlling.

Coaches need to focus on coaching the person, not the piece of paper.

We need to help coaches get to the point that they become comfortable with feeling “nearly out of control” of a session.  As Dan states: “This is the sort of feeling that creates momentum”.

And it will make it a more enjoyable environment for all.

Favourite Quotes From Presentation

“Perhaps the session might look a bit disorganised from the outside. Yet the outside doesn’t count if you know it is good on the inside.”

“Let silence act as a spring for momentum.”

Further reading

Rugby Coach Weekly

Connected Coaches

How to Empower Young Athletes

Get Out of the Kids’ Way on Game Day

Youth Sports Think Tank 2019 Day One Review

If this post helped you please take a moment to help others by sharing it on social media. If you want to learn more I encourage you to leave questions and comments or contact me directly.

20150614_154020-1Darren Wensor is a sports development professional, coach educator, specialist coach of young athletes and founder of the blog Learn more about him here and connect with him on TwitterFacebookLinkedin, Anchor or via email.

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