The attention spans of kids are shorter than with adults, meaning that coaches must work hard in order to ensure that they are not given the opportunity to disengage during a session. This can be achieved by keeping sessions exciting and varied. One of the crossovers between coaching both children and adults is that coaches must work out exactly what drives their athletes, with the complex principles involved in training able to be disguised by inventive coaching techniques and enjoyable games.
While the theory that coaching is a totally different ball game when it comes to kids and adults is widely acknowledged, it is one that is often neglected. With children and adults being so different, separate techniques must be used in order to maximise development. Let’s take a closer look at some of the major variances between the two groups.
Keep Things Fresh
Adults tend to be more responsive to actually being coached, while the shorter attention span of children can mean that they become overwhelmed when overloaded with information. As a result, coaches will generally get more out of adults due to their ability to focus on tasks for longer periods, while kids’ coaches must always keep things fresh and exciting in order to avoid distraction.
Coaches should be able to easily recognise when children are losing interest, with fidgeting and disinterested facial expressions being tell-tell signs. The terminology used with kids must also be simplified, with clear and concise instructions allowing them to gain a clear understanding more easily. As well as this, always be sure to keep eye contact at all times!
Disruptive individuals are found in both groups of adults and children, meaning that is important that coaches must retain a level od discipline in order to ensure that their exuberance does not unsettle the session. However, this process is significantly easier with adults, who will normally manage their own behaviour and recognise when the time to concentrate is.
However, children are unlikely to be as manageable, with engagement once again being key in this area. Ensuring that kids are having fun during training sessions is crucial, which will undoubtedly aid learning.
Of course, with all individuals being different, coaches must in fact treat all individuals, both children and adults, differently. Generalising coaching techniques when teaching different groups is always dangerous, with the top coaches recognising that approaches must be tailored between all types of groups.
The mental side of sport can often be as important as the physical, with adults often getting their conditioning work done on their own time, meaning that they are looking for more mental stimulation. Meanwhile, children are likely to prefer the physical elements of sessions.
Kids are certainly not adverse to cerebral ideas and new terminology all together, as long as it is tied into games, with doing so ensuring that children do not become overwhelmed by the complex principles involved. Coaches should place a greater emphasis upon problem solving with children, whereas adults are likely to understand explanations quickly.
A prime example of this is that you would not simply throw a child into the deep end of a swimming pool and expect them to fend for themselves. Kids are placed in the shallow end fist in order to get used to their surroundings, as well as take on board basic instructions. In this way, the same can be said for both children and adults in terms of learning, with the context being the only thing that should change.
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