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Kids confidence | Coaching Children (Ages 5-12)

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Coaching Children (Ages 5-12)

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  • Laurenhollowayxx

    I have child on my team who is 10 he is a very strong tackler in rugby but the past few months hes become very quiet in the tackling area of the game as if he doesn't want to tackle although some games he shows up and tackles anything. I know they are kids but I can see it is bothering him and he wants to improve it but something's blocking him. I don't put him down when he doesn't tackle but he highlights it himself I give him pointers in training of little mistakes he is making but it is gameday he seems to be lacking in either confidence or something is stopping him.

    Have anyone else come across this or something similar?

  • Colvin1982

    Interesting comments, regarding the young player, my experience of this in from a football background however their could be a number of factors contributing to this.

    1. Parental or Guardian influence - you said that some days he is really strong in tackle and others he is not. Who is watching when he is strong and who is watching when he doesn’t fancy it as much ? They maybe influencing his decisions or placing extra pressure on him .. just a thought happens a lot in football for similar skills

    solution - watch and observe for this to see if this is occurring. If it is then it’s maybe worth having a meeting with all parents and emphasise importance of consistent messages and being supportive of  the participants and the detail provided by coaches 

    2. Physical development- could he be experiencing a growth spurt where psychologically he knows what he wants to do but physically he has not got the control yet over his body. Again something I see a lot in young footballers especially when they hit growth spurts they basically become poor movers and basic skills become difficult ( often effects confidence) 

    solution- wait and be patient with the player, keep supporting them like it seems you are in terms of praising attempts and providing clear positive reinforcement each time the player makes a great tackle 

    3. Emotional development- is he starting to become aware that he could actually get hurt when tackling and therefore is a bit more hesitant to make tackles ! Due to hesitation he then starts to miss opportunities to tackle that he normally would take! 

    Solution - consider some practices that reinforce the skill and really praise the performer for their efforts to tackle or create some sort of fun activity around tackling like a slalom. 

    For confidence in general consider giving the players permission to mess it up without consequences. ( you may already do this) basically try to take away the fear of failure within the execution of the skill. Praise the intent rather than the outcome so they are more willing to have a go. Could consider setting a small game related challenges such as make 3 out of every 5 tackles (excuse my lack of knowledge around your sport) or a group target per a game. 

    At the opposite end of the scale you could consider raising the pressure on the players in training to higher than what it is on a match day maybe through the use of scenario based coaching or mixed games/ sessions with the older age groups so the physical corner is challenging but controllable by the coaches 

    hope some of these are useful 

  • Laurenhollowayxx

    Thankyou for this some things I had thought of and havent! Really useful!

  • dancottrell1

    In my experience, this happens a lot and you need to deal with it an age-appropriate manner.

    First, I coached an U10 boy who was probably 10th on the team list if we were going to make a selection (which we never did with the team I was coaching). Last week, he received an U18 cap for Wales. 

    He wasn't too bothered about the technical side of the game, he just enjoyed being with his mates and sometimes running with the ball. He could tackle, but didn't always seem that way.

    So, as the above poster suggests, be patient.

    Second, don't make it an issue about tackling. Instead, pick out some things he does well in defence or in part of the tackle. Then, praise those. Then, pick out something simple he can do in addition. For example, get the head tighter, grip tighter. 

    More recently I've asked a parent who's watching their child to score them a point for every time they achieve a new small target in the game. You might have seen that nightclub clickers are a useful tool here. (Thank Richard Shorter of non-perfectdad.co.uk for that one). For example, how many times they achieve a good grip. The child can show the parent what they should be looking for too.

    Plenty to add, but hope that's a bit of a starter!

  • tonylibert

    Both great answers and I will copy their the iteration BE PATIENT.

    children hit lulls and sweet spots and we are lucky they do. How crazy would we adults act if everything just kept challenging us. As long as the player is enjoying playing and coming back with a smile its all good at this age. We all want to see as many as possible play for as long as possible ( my brother just started his 51st year of city baseball) in the best environment possible. 

    breathe easy and thanks for caring about those kids, it matters

  • Spike

    Brilliant post, great assessment of potential impacting elements.

    Definitely have seen a marked change in approach from players at this age depending on who was there to watch them take part. 

    The key thing for me is the player is coming back week after week which hopefully means they are enjoying it. To me that was the critical thing at this age. As Dan mentioned later on one of his players went on to be capped for his country after a slow start in the game. 

    At ten years old give them the skills (whether they use them each week or not), praise the stuff they do well and embed the love for the game. 

    All the best, spike 

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