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Kids Should Be Leaders

Training Log #10

Coaches are a crucial part of being successful in sport, as we know, but some coaches do not realize that it can also help them see their own skills from a different perspective. As a coach, do you realize that you indirectly, or even directly, tell your athletes that the only way to be safe and progress properly is to follow the techniques you provide for them? But there are other ways to progress safely.

Coaches often downplay the value of self-development as it naturally devalues their own coaching by promoting that athletes can learn by themselves. When I have my athletes coach each other you can see how frustrated they get when the other person doesn’t understand what they are suppose to be doing. It shows you quickly that being a coach and an athlete takes two different states of mind. Whether it is a result from the culture that gymnastics has created, or just a reality of biology, is not the topic today. However, as all of these first 10 vlogs really discuss things to consider BESIDES actual technical cues, so I wanted to throw this in as it is a huge under-utilized training tool.

Have your athletes coach each other in the warm up and take active leadership roles from day one. Some may think it is best to listen to the coach at first to get a decent footing before trying to educate others, but in reality coaching is more about building confidence and trying to see things from other people’s perspective. By encouraging your athletes to lead, they are forced to not simply memorize a prescribed warm-up, but instead are forced to coordinate the group and build confidence. This includes ensuring everyone is following along, everyone is seeing the value of the warm up, everyone can hear the leader and develops confidence in the athlete.

In my world, coaches should be encourage their athletes to take a lead as often as possible. When you can, have your athletes lead a part of the training or warm-up or cool down and they will benefit greatly from the experience. Penn State University has a great article about how coaches and parents should really find every opportunity to let children take the lead. This includes the warm-up, games, basic techniques, attempting new skills with a careful watch from a coach BUT NO HELP! Ensure they don't just do the same routines you prescribe for them, make it fun and make sure they come up with new ideas on their own. Having athletes lead with a regurgitated or pre-created routine from the coach is NOT taking the lead! That just stops the athlete from coming up with their own unique idea and their own techniques. Create a great learning experience under the watchful eye of a coach.

Learning to coach mirrors learning acrobatics, so start sharing the lead on day one.

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