Perception is reality, youth athletes often lack the passion for training. And often females struggle more with the training aspect of playing a sport than males.
Two of the biggest challenges we see in athletes during training:
- The Question: “Why are we doing this, we would never do this in a game?”
- Lack of effort in a training exercise due to lack of understanding of its role in a game.
Both of these are obviously of the same nature yet sometimes as coaches we lose sight of the importance of understanding why we do things and how athlete’s psychologically choose to apply their efforts accordingly. In other words, if an athlete doesn’t see how a particular training element applies to their sport they are more likely to not try hard.
Remember when you were in school, or in a professional development class, and you thought to yourself that whatever you were learning was a waste of time and stupid because it would never be used in your life or job? Well, athletes are no different when it comes to training. They feel they just need to practice and play more to be better at their sport.
Athletes should be taught with vertical, horizontal and synergistic alignment for both clarity and motivation. Just as we hope the middle school and JV coaches are aligned with specific varsity skills coaching (for a smooth transition, reduced learning curve time and increased IQ) the same thing applies in Athletic Development.
It is our job as coaches to teach our athletes the importance of training so they become passionate about it as part of their athletic career. Most athletes love to play their sport(s), great athletes love to train because they understand the benefit and they have made it an important part of their program.
Some aspects of training are obvious yet others are seemingly just unnecessary work… and sometimes they are if the program curriculum has not been appropriately planned according to need. We call all aspects of training and practicing “stress” bouts. If each of these bouts of stress are not calculated and playing a role in reaching a goal, they are a waste of stress and should be re-thought.
In 2016 we are now seeing a tremendous shift in the paradigm of training and how important the role of year-round athletic development is for youth athletes. It is crucial we properly educate athletes to understand the benefits of training to remain healthy, reduce the risk of injury and adequately progress athletically to simply keep up.
Here are a few simple techniques we have found extremely beneficial when teaching the correlation of training to sport application:
- Language: Use language that correlates certain movements directly to a movement in their sport, even using the same coaching cues you would use in practice.
- Time: Use time periods of rest-work ratios that are directly proportionate to those in a game.
- Dexterity: Associate dexterity in training to that of an offense/defense position to better understand the deficiency of being dominant on one side or losing the directional first step.
- Repetition: Explain that practice makes permanent, training multiple reps instills the neurological movement pattern to ensure the 1, 2, 3, or more times they may have to execute a movement in play they will be perfect at it.
- Speed: Again, practice makes permanent and the only way to go fast is to train fast so if your kids are jogging or only giving 50% effort during training drills, that is how they are training to execute.
Remember, the more creative you become in teaching your athletes why and how training is important, the better, healthier athletes you will have.