Pick Your Battles When Training Young Athletes

“What Battles Do You Pick?”

As I look back over my years of training young athletes in a business setting, I have learned to deal with all kinds of situations much differently. I can attribute this to several things; more knowledge, more experience and becoming very comfortable in my own skin.

I no longer let situations that use to bother me and had really little significance to the results of my athletes performance effect me. Let’s be honest, owning your own business and trying to build it is tough enough without allowing every little comment made by a parent, coach, or athlete bring you down. I enjoy parents and coaches much more than before because I now allow them to vent or say what is on their mind. I simply acknowledge and go about doing what I know is correct in the first place. I don’t argue, as there is no need to.

The other area I have drastically changed is allowing my athletes to have more fun and “goof-off” occasionally during the workout. That is, as long as they do the work and it doesn’t take away from my program. Keep in mind, most sports performance business owners are working with young athletes who are wired to “play”. Most youngsters are kept in a bottle all day long by teachers who tell them to sit down and be quiet, parents who tell them to keep quite in the house, and coaches who direct every single movement they do. It is my opportunity to allow these youngsters to be kids and learn at the same time.

Years ago, I was a stricter coach and didn’t allow as much play during my workouts. There is no doubt that some of the first athletes I trained benefited from the training, however I am sure the young athletes may have been stifled too much. I should have allowed more freedom to be more active, as long as they were safe and not interrupting.

The art of coaching is to know when and who to tighten up on. When I train older, more serious athletes who are looking to reach higher levels of performance, then I don’t allow much breakdown in concentration. When I train young athletes who are more motivated kids, I have personally found I can achieve better results by giving them the freedom to open up and release some energy. At times, I give them choices of exercises they want to do. This allows them to be more apart of the process.

It takes time to develop comfort in your program and self to allow athletes more freedom but it is well worth it when you realize you allowed a kid to be a kid and helped them improve along the way!

Train Smart!

Lee Taft

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