Tag Archives: Creativity

How to Select The Best Coaching Session Content For Young Athletes

3 Questions You Need To Ask About Your Coaching Content

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How do we determine what to include in a kids coaching session?

What is the most effective type of activity to select?

The best coaches of kids are are discerning about what they include in their program. Any activity that appears within a session should have passed through several filters prior to being delivered to the kids.

3 Crucial Questions

I suggest that three of the “filters” that youth sports coaches should use when deciding what activities to deliver during a kids coaching session are:

  1. Is the activity age & developmentally appropriate?
  2. Will the activity spark engagement?
  3. Does the activity hit one or more of “C’s” of coaching?

1. Is The Activity Age & Developmentally Appropriate?

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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.

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.

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.

Coaching Takeaway

Learn as much as you can about the typical physiological and cognitive characteristics of the young athletes that you coach. Keep the big picture in mind.

2. Will The Activity Spark Engagement?

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Learning can only take place when we are engaged with the content. Four ways that can make an activity more engaging are:

Use a Game

Try to “gamify” everything. Try to put some kind of game element into everything the kids do during your session. For example, can you turn a drill into version of tag?

Tell a Story

Can a story be built around the drill? For example, when the kids that I coach step over hurdles, they are never doing a “drill”; they are on a “secret mission”, trying to avoid setting off alarmed obstacles.

Make It Competitive

Can an element of fun competition be used? Can you introduce individual or team point scores?

Create a Challenge

In his book “Atomic Habits”, James Clear discusses the power of the “Goldilocks Rule” in relation to optimum motivation. Use this rule to set tasks that are not too easy and not too hard – but just right – for your athletes. “Just right”  is at the edge of their current ability.

Coaching Takeaway

Always pause to consider how you can make an activity “just manageable” or “desirably difficult” to maximally engage your participants.

3. Does the Activity Hit One or More of the “C’s of Coaching”?

5 Cs of Coaching

Coaching kids needs to be more than teaching the skills and strategies of a sport. Coaches need to consider the holistic development of young athletes. This can be done by considering the “C’s” of coaching. Some of the “C’s that are typically related to coaching are:

  • Competence – What the athlete can do
  • Confidence – A feeling of “I can do it”
  • Character & Caring – Showing compassion to others and having a good sense of right and wrong
  • Creativity – Being able to make decisions
  • Connection – A connection to others, an organisation, etc
Coaches can purposefully inject the C’s of coaching into a session by curating content that that helps develop one or more of the C’s. If an activity does not truly hit one or more of the C’s then adjust or add to it or find a different activity that does.
Coaching Takeaway
Ensure all activities reflect one or more of the C’s of coaching in order to facilitate the holistic development of a young athlete.

Recommended Action

Assess all of your coaching content through the filters of:

  1. Is the activity age & developmentally appropriate?
  2. Will the activity spark engagement?
  3. Does the activity hit one or more of the “C’s of coaching”?

If you try this, I would love to hear the effect this has on your coaching. Let me know by leaving a reply/comment, or by using the contact details below.

Further reading

How To Disguise Your Drills And Avoid Overkill

How To Make Sprint Drills Really Fun For Kids

How To Make Hurdles Really Fun For Kids


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 coachingyoungathletes.com. Learn more about him here and connect with him on TwitterFacebookLinkedin, Anchor or via email.

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