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Does anyone have advice for how to deal with persistent low level disruptive behavior when training/coaching kids of ages 6 & 7 yrs?
I have a particular unruly bunch that tend to feed off each other when things get out of hand. I know it's them because I coach another set of kids on a different day/sport that i have no issues with. Last week's session was a almost a write-off.
I am qualified to coach this sport but the problem is i have never played it and it's that fact that is always in the back of my mind. I do prepare session plans but I'm not massively creative nor effervescent and in reality probably wouldn't coach if my son stopped playing in the team. Maybe that is coming across in the session and rubbing off on the kids?
I'm probably not the type to come down heavy on discipline because at the end of the day these are other people's kids! I try to keep the sessions fun but relevant to the sport we are playing. But I do struggle to engage with some of the kids. I do think there are kids that either don't want to be there or don't know why they are there. For that I blame the parents.
Someone told me to start sitting kids out or sending them on a run to the other side of the field but I get the impression that is not the done thing these days!
Hi Nick, I appreciate your honesty and I have certainly faced this before and am continuing to try to create/facilitate the right environment for the little ones! I respect that you don't want to be physically punishing kids and that there might always be kids who appear that they don't want to be there, but this will always be one of the challenges of coaching kids. It does sounds to me like you have reflected well about what the potential problems might be. I want to give you my opinions below, but as I don't know the entire context of the situation, I accept that I might be making generalisations or be off the mark.
Firstly, I don't think you can 100% say that 'you know it's them because you have no problems with another group/sport'. Every individual is different - as is every group dynamic (this includes the coach and sport) and we as coaches have to observe and tweak our approach and behaviours accordingly. One thing that worked last session might not even work the next time with the same person due to a bad day at school or events at home and this is why kids will always keep us guessing and adapting. Try getting to know the kids more before or after a session so that it becomes easier to engage with them and hopefully this means that they will open up more to you. If you are not already, ask them how their weekend was, what their favourite foods are etc and then you could always relate activities to these interests.
A quote that helped me was this; "they don't care how much you know until they know how much you care."
To your second point, I don't think it is a big concern that you haven't played. Yes, there's arguments that if you've played you might not know what's fun or needed in a session or might not be able to demonstrate as well etc but I think this can also be learned so I wouldn't let this bog you down. In regards to your session plans, one thing that really stands out is that although you arrive prepared, you mentioned that your plans might be lacking the variation and creativity that gets the players motivated, engaged and therefore enjoying the activity. As you know, 6 and 7 year olds naturally have a short attention span and you might need to further observe, analyse and even ask the kids when and why they start to lose interest. - Coach the session in front of you, not your plan.
It might also mean having numerous activities or progressions in your back pocket that you can quickly move to that:
It might also be worth keeping kids who you know disrupt each other away from each other as much as possible until you find a better formula for your sessions. From my experience, if the kids are engaged, motivated and having fun, then they a lot less likely to show signs of disruptive behaviour. I accept that things won't change over night and it will be a process of experimentation so be patient, open-minded and persistent.
Happy for you to let me know more, Nick and hope I can be of more help if you want.
Totally agree with all the other suggestions. I have looked into this
by Mark Bennett. It looks at how behaviors impact performance. This is the pod cast I listened too (by Stuart Armstrong with Mark) I have used it with a VERY VERY CHATTY GROUP!
How you can employ non-negotiable's. So behaviors that are acceptable at training an those that are not. This is discussed as a group, and then consequences to not doing them. As the groups come up with them, then hold each other accountable.
I think Luke has nailed this - "coaches have to observe and tweak our approach and behaviours..." to suit the players.
The quote that comes to mind is "I am their coach, they are not my players" - Paddy Upton calls this the "servant-leader" role. There are good (pedagogical) reasons for becoming a player-centric coach, but, practically, your chances of drastically changing player behaviour when you don't yet have their buy-in and see them only once a week are probably slim. So you have to work with what you have, for now.
The iCoachKids MOOCs are very good on understanding child development, and finding ways to work with individuals who will be growing (socially, physically, emotionally & cognitively) week by week.
The MOOCs are here: https://www.icoachkids.eu/free-moocs-for-coaches-of-children.html
But if they look heavy (MOOC #1 was chunky), all of the video content is available on the iCK YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCMMDMadlmu15v-Wo4-c-vOw
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