November 12, 2010
The Youth Sports Coach Part II by Ken Kaiserman
Coaching the Right Fundamentals - The Youth Sports Coach
Kids of any age can learn to do things properly. They may not have the motor skills developed yet, but they can at least try to do it right. One of my favorite misconceptions is that 'practice makes perfect'. That's totally wrong; practice doesn't make perfect, practice makes PERMANENT. What I try to teach is: 'Perfect Practice Makes Permanently Perfect'. That's a pretty big difference!
Of course, this really changes things for a youth coach because we need to teach the correct fundamentals or we'll simply be reinforcing the bad habits kids develop. The hardest thing to do as a coach is to try and correct a flaw that a kid has developed over years of 'practice'. This is even harder when the kid is good, because correcting the fundamental flaw generally means that getting worse before getting better. That means the kid is going to be reluctant to try this 'new' way and may not stick it out. In the long run, the difference could be huge. While we've already acknowledged that that we're not developing professional athletes, there is no reason to limit the ceiling on how well each child may develop.
The solution is simple: we need to learn the right fundamentals before we start coaching. It's a responsibility that we accept when we volunteer to coach. Now, up front, I want to make sure to state that most of us think we know much more about sports than we really do. We think that because we played and we were pretty good that we clearly know how to teach a kid to play baseball or basketball. That's simply not true. Much of what we learned was wrong. We may also not know the right way to communicate what we know to kids. Or, we may not know anything about the sport if we're stepping in and coaching soccer or another sport that wasn't 'big' when we were young.
Fortunately, there is help. Many leagues do a good job teaching their coaches the fundamentals of the game. Some leagues even offer mandatory coaching clinics for their coaches. These are really good starts, but generally not enough ' especially as the kids you coach get older and better. Before every season that I coach, I'll watch several instructional tapes to review the fundamentals and also learn new material. I re-watch tapes, often with my kids that we've seen before and buy a couple of new ones to add some wrinkles. Of course, at SportsKids.com, we do offer 1,000's of instructional books and videos, but the point of this section is to simply say to use whatever method you choose to make sure that you teach correct fundamentals. Every kid, even young kids, can learn with good coaching and remember: 'Practice makes Permanent'.
Check back next week for the final part of this great coaching article.