Coaching elementary aged or primary aged children brings a number of obstacles that can factor your session.
Is your practice engaging enough?
Is it relevant to their stage of development?
Are they skilled enough to participate?
Are they tired after school today?
Have they had a good enough meal to provide adequate energy?
Have they had a bag of skittles 10 minutes before they stepped on the ice?
These obstacles however bizarre they may seem, are in fact very influential in what should be focused on. Another question that I ask is do you have the necessary pedagogy skills to understand their needs?
I want you to imagine yourself at 8 years old. Fun isn’t it! Knees are dirty with mud, face is covered with lunch and dinner from cheek to cheek. Now imagine being given the instruction that you are to go from one end of the field to the other in a straight line doing the same thing over and over and over and over again. Now ask yourself, how you feel? Bored will be the number 1 answer. Now imagine standing throwing a ball in the air or bouncing it on the ground, if you like, imagine stickhandling on that same spot. Do this over and over and over again! How do you feel? Bored! Have you learned the specific skill? Yes!!!!! Wrong!!! Sadly not. You have learned the technique! In a very closed environment you have learned the technique of bouncing, throwing or stickhandling. Have you learned how you should use it in the real situation? No… Do you understand the skill? No… Should we just give the players the answer and tell them when to use it?
My answer is No.
Part of skill development is the introduction of technique and applying that to the real game through conditioned small area games.
If we teach technique and then tell the players use it like this, have they developed the skill? No. You have given them a routine.
One of the major parts of skill development is problem solving. If the players are given the opportunity to problem solve from the beginning they develop a much deeper understanding of the technique and application of the skill. If the understanding is there, the application will be much more successful. Someone ask Ovi who showed him how he developed one the greatest snapshots the league has ever seen? Someone ask Ali who showed him how to be the most graceful boxer of all time? The answer is no one, they developed these styles themselves, with professional guidance ofcourse, but they became great at what they do because they had a deeper understanding, and an undeniable amount of pain, sweat and tears!!
So… How do you teach children so they gain a deeper understanding? My answer is develop as many fun games as possible and include small rules that help maintain the focus on your end goal for that session or season. If your playing games, the players are understanding!! Teaching game for understanding is, in my opinion, the best way for teaching skills and habits. For any more information or if you have any questions please don’t hesitate to email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thanks for reading.
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