Kids are constantly changing. Growth spurts, attitude adjustments, and developing personalities make it challenging to keep up. As a parent or coach it is important to remember first and foremost: kids are kids, so let them be just that. Kids are full of curiosity, passion for the small things, and are learning an amazing amount of knowledge each day! As you grow older, you become less curious, and less prone to take the risks that come from learning at times.
Here are a few things we have discovered are important to remember when coaching and parenting developing athletes.
1. Put yourself in their shoes:
If you are teaching or coaching your child, take a moment and look at the technique you are taking. Would you enjoy it if the roles were reversed? Everything has the opportunity to be fun no matter what it is. Take a moment to adjust your teaching moments, and make them fun.
2. Let them fall:
Sometimes it is important to remember that kids need to go through necessary pain to learn life lessons. Whether it’s skinning their knee, or becoming frustrated with failure… don’t worry, they will pull through it. Falling is just a necessity of life at times. Don’t rush to their aid to fix every little thing that goes wrong for them. Sometimes it is better to let them learn on their own through their mistakes. The lesson will be more prominent in their mind as a result.
3. Avoid negativity:
It can be very easy to notice every fault that your child is making. Often times, it is only because we are trying to help them be the very best he/she can be. Despite good intentions, we need to be sure that we are noticing the successes as much as we do the failures. As a rule of thumb, be sure to recognize 5 successes to 1 fault.
4. Let them play:
Think about what you used to do for fun as a child. Was it video games, or going to amusement parks? For most of us, it was climbing trees, playing catch in the park, and just simply jumping around, making up games of our own. What happened to this mentality? Kids have the opportunity to become great athletes right in their own backyard. We just need to give them the opportunity to do so.
5. Have patience:
Just like anything else that is worth it, progression in athletics can take time. Be patient with your young athletes. Learn to love the different stages of their learning.
6. Track progression:
This comes right after have patience, because the two go hand in hand. By tracking progression, it will allow you to measure your child’s development and help them recognize their improvements. Not only does this help you to maintain your patience, but it also helps your young athlete maintain their motivation to keep moving forward.
7. Learn your athlete’s motivators:
There are many things that can motivate someone to move forward. When dealing with young athletes, try to recognize the internal motivators that drive them to progression.
8. Live the example you set:
Being a parent or coach, we spend a lot of time handing out advice to our children about how and what to be. In order for this advice to be genuinely listened to, we need to “walk our talk.” If we are preaching about having honest, genuine, and sportsman like qualities, we need to be setting this example in our daily actions. Remember that kids watch everything you do, hear everything you say, and will shape themselves based on what they see in the way you carry yourself.
We have found some of our most rewarding moments with the children that we coach at South County Golf Academy. We are grateful to have learned these things from interacting with these awesome athletes, and hope we can all strive to help young children grow to their greatest and most rewarding potentials.