LTT IV: Thursday Youth Coaching Session

TAGS: youth coaching, kids, coach, Julia Ladewski

Thursday Youth Coaching Session

We arrived early on Thursday to help out with a group of kids that have been training at the compound. This is a group of kids ages 6-13 that Dave Tate and Matt Goodwin have been working with for a couple months. They asked me to come down and do a session with the boys, teach some new things, and make sure they were on the right track with the training they had been doing.

I have to admit, I was a bit nervous. Not because I don't know how to train kids, but because Dave Tate would be watching me. What would he think of my coaching skills? What if the kids don't pay attention? What if...?

Breaking the Ice

Once I was introduced to the kids, my game face was on. I broke the ice asking each kid, individually, what sports they play.

By showing a genuine interest in what the kids do, they open up and know that I have their best interest at heart.

Get Them Excited

We proceeded to do a stationary warm-up, which allowed me to teach a few new things and assess them in their movement. I had them count - loudly - the number of reps we performed.

Getting them to give me a massive amount of energy gets them excited about what we're doing. And then I feed off that energy and give it back to them.

Assess Their Movement

We stepped outside into the afternoon sun for a little movement prep. Basic skips, shuffles, backwards cycles and lunges. Again, assessing their movements is key. Thankfully, Matt and Dave did a great job of teaching them these basic movements from the start. We had them learn how to decelerate and stop under control after each movement.

Having them hold each deceleration position not only strengthens their muscles, but it gives you insight into who can (and will) push beyond the temporary pain they feel in their legs.

Make Them Coach

Up next were some running mechanics. I had the youngest six boys line up by the wall with the older five standing behind, ready to coach. I informed the second group that they were going to be my coaches. I needed their eyes on the person doing the drill so they could help correct technique. I only gave them two things to look for - toe dorsiflexion and eyes forward. We switched groups and the younger kids now coached the older kids.

By having them coach each other, it helped to keep them occupied. Kids are easily distracted. This also gave them a sense of ownership and pride in what they're doing. Their confidence is boosted because I empowered them to be the coach.

Focus on One or Two Things

We ran a few 15-yard sprints, practicing the mechanics of what we just learned. We focused on one or two things at a time, mostly concentrating on the fact that the drill has a start and a finish.

By having a specific starting position, it forces the kids to be ready and prepared. When I say "ready," they know where they are supposed to be. Again, it keeps them engaged and they begin to learn body position and awareness.

We finished with a few medicine ball drills. Med balls are a fun way to finish a session. Half the group had a med ball while the other group...well, they started to get distracted by all the fun stuff at the Compound. I quickly remedied that plan by having the non-medball-throwing group do plank holds and pushups.

Keep Them Engaged

Engagement. Keeping the kids engaged is critical. You can have the best drills and the best exercises, but if the kids are engaged or interested, it's all for naught.

Coaching young kids is an art. Anyone can learn the science, the research, and the X's and O's, but a great coach leaves the kids smiling.

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