It’s fun to work with kids that pick up the skills almost naturally, isn’t it? But what about the kids who don’t quite pick it up so easily? How do we help them? Remember that a team is only as strong as its weakest link, so our job as coaches is to remember to be patient and work with each kid as an individual.
Sometimes it’s hard for kids to retain certain skills and techniques. Every kid is different and it helps to consider that not every high level player started out ‘getting it.’ Here are a few things to remember when dealing with your players.
- Every kid is different. Some focus better than others and no doubt some of you have kids who have ADD or ADHD. Is the child paying attention or is it hard to keep their attention? Remember to keep practices moving so there is not an inordinate amount of time just standing around – particularly for those kids diagnosed.
- Motor skills are often not fully developed in each child at the same time. One child who isn’t getting it age 7 might be crushing it by the time they are 12. Our advice here is to be patient. You might even see if you can do some one-on-one work with him. But above all, keep it fun
- Vary how you teach a skill.
Every kid is different
First, the ability to focus varies in each child. As mentioned in prior posts, it’s important to keep the practice moving – for ALL kids. But for kids with ADD or ADHD, this is critical. If you see a child having a hard time paying attention it may be because they have difficulty focusing. Find out how best to help them. Often parents notice this and may be able to help you with this.
Sometimes if you have to talk (and it’s important not to do too much of this) you can pull that child out to help demonstrate. Don’t do it to embarrass them, but to engage them.
Motor skills are often not fully developed in all kids at the same time
Amanda Morin wrote a great post about How Kids Develop Thinking and Learning Skills (http://u.org/1OVtzgc). Her major point is that kids do develop differently. She iterates that there are different instructional strategies that can make a difference in teaching kids to learn a skill.
A couple of points to help in this are:
- Make sure and REVIEW skills from prior sessions. Remember that repetition is the mother of learning.
- Present new skills in small steps. Great teachers break things down and make them simple.
Again, patience is a key here.
Vary how you teach a skill
Different people learn differently. Some are kinesthetic learners and learn by doing. There are visual learners. These kids can watch it and get it. And then there are the kids who are more auditory learners who might hear things and understand it better.
One point on this last issue is to consider saying things in different ways to help the child understand things better. A dance instructor once explained that she will vary things by explaining how to dance on rhythm in several ways. For example, she will count it out and say “and 1-2-3…” However, she will also say it this way, “and quick, quick, slow…” We need to consider our language skills to help kids get it. And that coaches, is on us to make our communication that much better.
So, maybe the question isn’t ‘why can’t my kid get it?’ but ‘how can improve my skill in communicating so each child gets it?’