A National Alliance for Youth Sports resource helping coaches, parents and administrators provide the best youth sports experiences for children.
Doomed to fail: Using a one-size-fits-all approach to coaching kids
By Greg Bach
There are lots of ways to ruin a practice.
Boring drills will do it.
Same goes with poor planning.
And using the same approach with every player all but guarantees disastrous results.
“Every player is different and every player has a different learning style,” says Dave Clawson, Wake Forest’s head football coach. “And part of the job of the coach is to figure out that learning style and to make sure that they are coaching things in different ways, whether it’s on a blackboard or on video or by demonstration. All those different teaching methods affect different players in different ways. A coaching style is not one-size-fits-all for players.”
Here’s some more great advice from Clawson on working with young athletes:
MOVING THROUGH THE MISCUES
You want to be that coach that kids remember for all the right reasons, yes?
Of course you do!
And that can only happen if you’re able to pull kids through those rough patches that sabotage their confidence and fuel self-doubt in their skills.
“That’s where it becomes coaching,” Clawson says. “You don’t focus on the result. You try to correct the mistake that they made that led to the result. And you always try to make that constructive.”
Mom and Dad, and everyone else in the stands saw the child’s mistake, so there’s no need for you to pile on.
Your job is to push forward.
“When a player makes a mistake and gives up a big play the whole world knows it, so that’s not the time for the coach to jump on the player and be critical of him,” Clawson explains. “That’s when you say, ‘Ok, that one got away, but you’re better than that. This is what happened and let’s get out there next time and don’t back down.’”
KICKING MONOTONY TO THE SIDELINES
“You have to make practices something that they look forward to,” Clawson says. “I think like anything, if there is a routine and you do the same thing every day, every time, that it just becomes monotonous.”
So make sure the drills are competitive.
Continually change them.
And make sure they’re fun to do.
“I think it’s important at times to change how you practice,” Clawson says. “Make sure you’re always making drills and group periods competitive. Those are the things that we try to do to always make sure that players are performing at their highest level.”
BETTER COACHING, STRONGER RELATIONSHIPS
“I just think players are going to be drawn to coaches that make them better,” Clawson says. “If a player loves football and he knows the coach is going to make him better, and is dedicated to what he does, then that player is going to be more drawn toward the coach just because he knows that every minute that he spends with that coach is making him a better player. And that’s where I think the personal relationships can flourish.”
Sending kids home after practice with positive messages fuels confidence and passion for the sport. See how Tulsa football coach Philip Montgomery makes it happen with his team and adopt his approach to benefit your players, too
Troy Calhoun, the head football coach at the U.S. Air Force Academy, on helping young athletes learn, improve and savor competing
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