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5 ways to engage athletes at the grassroots level


Children are fascinating. They are a lot more intelligent than we give them credit for. Something they have an advantage over adults is that they have no care in the world for something they are not interested in.

Adults seem to believe that they have to act a certain way or behave in a certain manor for certain audiences or situations. Children don’t have this way of thinking. If they like something, find something engaging or fun then they will be invested in it. Children see through fake passion, if you as a coach are not passionate in what you are delivering or how you deliver it they will see through this and turn their attention to something else.

You have to be creative in how you deliver a session, keeping the attention of one child can be hard so what about a bunch of them that you are coaching? Staying fun positive and creative in your actions, body language and tone of voice is essential for this. The actual content of what you are saying is not actually that important.

Take a clown for example, majority of the time they don’t say anything but what they do is act in a positive engaging manor, they are very creative in their delivery (wearing funny clothes and loud colours) and then what they are delivering is never the same or last for a long amount of time. This is where the innovation comes in.

When coaching youth its very important not to focus one certain aspect of content for long periods of time, change it up be innovative in your practice. You may think well they are not successful at this one thing so we need to stay on this, no, move on, it’s ok for them to fail.

The objective of coaching children is to allow them to fail, make them become as creative passionate and innovating in their thinking as they can be. Allow them to make the decisions and come up with solutions to problems. The more innovating, passionate and creative you are as a person and as a coach the more the children you coach will benefit.

Last point is don’t be afraid to smile. Smiles are infectious, a child’s natural thing to do it to smile especially when engaging in physical activity, the more smiling you do as a coach the more they will, and the more engaged they will be, again think of the clown – they paint a big smile on their face.

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