‘And then I realised!’  These are the words of my middle son Harry after rugby training at the weekend.  And what was the realisation?  That if he dips his shoulder and lowers his centre of gravity prior to contact then the would-be tackler is more likely to be bounced off.   In short, he has tried a new technique and experienced success with it.  These are ‘light bulb’ or ‘eureka’ moments when developing youth performance.  Moments of realisation when everything falls into place are very powerful.  Youth performance coaches in sports and fitness must strive to create as many of these moments as possible in their young athletes.


Leading and facilitating youth performance

Different coaches have different styles.  Some are dictators versus others who simply go with the flow.  Despite the eve growing research database, coaching must still be considered a complex art rather than a science.  This is especially true of coaching young athletes.  There is no gold standard method for coaching improved youth performance.  However, as one of London’s leading fitness coaches of young athletes and children we do have several factors for more successful coaching of young people.

The youth performance coach must be a leader.  There is a time for direct instruction when introducing new skills and exercises to young athletes.  Providing a basic ‘how to’ guidance also helps young performers with game sense and understanding.  This autocratic, ‘do it this way’, needs to be applied as part of much broader coaching strategy.  The coach as a leader sets the tone for the learning environment.  This includes rules for behaviour and the general principles of play, along with the goals of the programme.

When it comes to the learning that takes place and individual development coaches become facilitators.  Design practices that promote problem solving and the ability to reflect.  Young performers learn best in sessions where it is ok to make mistakes.  In fact, some of the best youth training sessions promote meaningful mistakes and a fast evolution towards higher performance.  This is when the magic happens and children learn at a faster rate.


The practice of improving youth performance

We recognise that every young sports performer and junior athlete is different.  Therefore, it is important to use a variety of coaching strategies:

  • Game related practices centred around solving a sport related problem.
  • Video Analysis of elite performers.
  • Video Analysis of their own performance.

Whatever the strategy we keep it simple.  By setting the parameters of the drill you find that junior athletes come up with the correct techniques themselves.