Why Coaches Need To Give Kids Creative Control

Tips for Cultivating Creativity When Coaching Young Athletes

While coaching some basic long jump skills the other day, I needed something to occupy the kids for a few moments while I set up my next activity.

I decided to let them continue what they were doing – running through a line of four hoops before leaping to land on two feet on the other side of a mini hurdle. I had told them that they were stepping on stones across a river to then leap over a fence.

“But this time,” I said, “use your own method of making it across the river and over the fence.”

Wow. The kids’ energy exploded. My previous activity had been fun. But it was nothing compared to what happened next.

The level of creativity went crazy. The kids attempted and achieved things that never would have occurred to me. In about 10 seconds I had seen about 10 new “drills”. The most memorable featured a cartwheel. Yes – a cartwheel!

The Value In Giving Kids Creative Control

This positive step-up in the session’s energy was clearly the result of me giving the kids some control over the content.

It turned out to be one of the best parts of the session. It was a great lesson in loosening up control.

Never underestimate the value in giving kids the chance to solve problems and contribute solutions.

UK Coaching promotes “creativity” as one of the C’s of coaching, describing it as giving kids skills to find their: “. . . own solutions and own ways to practise, play & perfect.”

There are benefits for the kids and the coach.

The kids get to stretch skills as well as their imagination.

The coach learns lots about the kids and is presented with new material that will extend their own coaching repertoire.

3 Tips For Cultivating Creativity

Here are some ideas for giving kids creative control during a coaching session:

1. Challenge the Kids to Find Their Own Solutions

Set up a movement challenge or puzzle then leave it up to the kids to work out how they will solve it.

2. Challenge the Kids to Change an Activity

Conduct a game, drill or challenge then ask the kids how they could make it different, harder or better.

3. Challenge Kids To Create Their Own Activity

Provide some parameters and equipment then challenge the kids to come up with their own interesting activity.

Over to You!

Plan to pass creative control over to the kids during parts of your next session. Set some parameters then stand back and let the kids loose.


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.


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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 TwitterFacebookLinkedin, Anchor or via email.

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