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Coaching Fitness, the Rights and Wrongs? | Coaching Youth (age 13-18)

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Coaching Youth (age 13-18)

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Posted in: Coaching Youth (age 13-18), General Forum

Coaching Fitness, the Rights and Wrongs?

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    My experience within the coaching process is focused on conditioining, therapy and performance analysis. The analysis process includes reading GPS for physiological evaluation and planning training as well as video analysis and wellbeing.

    I am embedded into a wide range of coaching processes across several individual and team sports. The transition years are very important to me as the young athletes body is going through what will be its biggest changes so the technical performance of each exercise is more important than completing the prescribed repetitions. Young athletes balance and coordination can regress during puberty due to the significant changes their bodies are going through, allowing them to complete exercises with poor technique can be viewed as coaching dysfunction. The majority of young athletes we work with for the first time struggle to complete a simple squat or lunge correclty which is of great concern. 

    While I appreciate coaches cannot be all knowing I am looking to explore what importance coaches place on conditioning, do you pay much attention to technique of exercises or do you place more emphasis on technique during sport specific skill execution?  

  • Mwood

    Hi Jason

    Great post, thank you for posing the question. I think this is a really relevant topic that coaches across nearly every sport should be aware of and consider. The idea I like to share with the devloping coaches is that we 'Teach the Event' (sport) and 'Coach the Movment' (physical competentce). 

    Getting the movement right first is an underpinning principle in athlete development and without achieving this the coaches ability to impact sport specific skills is really limited. 

    A lot of coach education focuses too much on the sport specific skills and not enough attention is placed on coaching movement. Especially with female athletes in this age group - we should really coach these physical qualities much younger than boys to give them a chance to stay injury free and keep progressing. 

    Scottish Athletics and practitioners such as Kelvin Giles have started a quiet revolution of developing coaches who can spot movement issues and intervene. Check out Kelvin's work - he has been a big inflcunce on my coaching (as have Scottish Athletics, name check Darren Ritchie for that!). 

    I like the RAMP idea for warm ups, this is such a simple and really effective strategy.  

    I would encourage all coaches to consider 'Atheltic Development' as one of their guiding principles for workign with developign athletes. 

    Some guiding principles I have; 

    1. Coach Movements not sport specific skills.

    2. Expose young athletes to a variety and breadth of activities (Run, Jump, Throw, Push, Pull, Squat, Lunge, Hinge, Brace, Rotate, Catch, Hop, Skip....) regardless of the sport.

    3. Provide athletes the opportutniy to Explore their physical qualities by doing different activities. 

    I look forward to hearing other coaches ideas and experiences.

    Thank you


  • AndyP

    Matt you won't be surprised I completely agree!

    I've had a perfect example with a young lad I've worked with this year - typical case of a 13 year old boy, growing by the minute, but experiencing coordination challenges. Whilst we have spent time working on his sprint mechanics learning to do hopscotch has had just as much emphasis. We've done a lot of balance work, standing jumps, skipping... Although no multievent comps are on the agenda, he's slotted in doing throws and jumps work to develop a wider range of movement skills.

    The season has started fantastically. It's impossible to say what would have happened if we hadn't have done those things - perhaps he still would have produced the same results, but I'm confident he's much more resilient and in a better place to handle the increased forces his body is producing.

    I can see why it would be tempting to put a heavy emphasis on event specific work - it can lead to easy short term improvements. It's also worth bearing in mind the difficulty of keeping the interest of the athlete in question if they never get to do anything other than general movement skills, but the importance of overall athleticism is a hugely important part of my philosophy.

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