One component I really enjoy when working with sports is the opportunity to make an impact. Most of the time I don’t get to choose what that impact is, and at times I’m surprised what it is in the end. Kids seems to latch onto different things for different reasons. Sometimes you have very concrete thinkers and sometimes not as much. A big part will depend on the age of the player. The fun part is creating a space where everyone can learn and grow.
The more opportunities I’ve had to teach the more I’ve learned and improved how I approach teaching. One thing that I’ve tried to focus on and teach is positional play. All classes I teach cover this topic. Some might try to avoid it with younger kids, but I think it’s important to spend time on. I think all players, especially developing players need to have a foundation in how the game works. Once they understand their role in the moment on the field they can then start to branch out which is where creativity can flourish.
Some kids are going to struggle with this concept. Some might grasp it right away and quickly realize how they fit into the flow of the game. Others, our concrete thinkers, will learn and try to understand their position and play it accordingly. They won’t deviate from what they’ve been told, and will likely get frustrated with the flow of the game. Depending on where you are in your teaching you may or may not have covered the topic of flow. Meaning, while a player plays a position, they may change positions in the moment based on the flow of the game.
Through this movement players may start as a defender, but end up as a forward and vice versa. If you haven’t covered that component you may see some frustration in some players as a result. Take note of it, and if needed address it. It’s important to somewhat manage frustration, but sometimes the struggle is purely developmental. The more they learn and grow players will grasp concepts being taught.
Remember that everyone learns and processes information differently, and as an instructor we must remember to present information in different ways. Some of these tools include using verbal cues to describe what is needed. In other cases coaches may use a white board to map out the movement on the field. Other tools may be a physical demonstration walking players through the process. Many coaches use all of these tools and more to help teach their players.
Remind yourself and your players that for many this is a new sport, and that you’re all learning together. Find any success and make sure to praise it. As your players progress you’ll see an overall better style of play come out in the end.