“Like a lot of subjects, teaching sports skills correctly to kids requires experience. I have been one of the owners of Kids In Sports (a company that focusses on teaching sports skills properly to toddlers, preschoolers and primary school-aged children) for 20 years. I’m often asked, “What’s the best method(s) to teach my kids sports skills and motivate them to practice?” Here are a few of my favorite tips to help answer that question:
- Our beliefs in coaching start from the fact that each child is unique learns differently and at their own pace. Accepting this fact from the beginning might be the best advice I can give. However, quickly following that would be to ensure your child is placed in the best environment to learn and for them to be happy while learning.
- To successfully teach your child sports skills, first you must determine what space in your house or yard will serve as a good learning environment – a space that is safe, fun and, if possible, distraction-free. Timing is as crucial as location! What time of day is your child the most attentive? When do they have enough energy to focus?
- If your child is enrolled in a sports class like Kids In Sports, pay close attention to how the coaches break down each skill. Listen for the language they utilize to communicate certain instructions and messages – you will find that the language is tailored towards the child/age. Be mindful of what is realistic for a child to learn at each age. We find that using quick bullet point directions are often the best approach for instructing young children.
- Remember that after a small amount of time you will lose their attention. It is very important to know how long “practice time” should last. Don’t overdo it! 30 minutes is usually plenty of time for young kids and most importantly you want them to finish happy, so they look forward to the next practice. Less is more at young ages.
Reinforcing what is taught to them in classes led by properly trained coaches can help improve their skills – if your child is meant to succeed at sports they will have to love practicing as there is no substitute for practice and repetition. At home, try finding the right balance of fun and learning because if it gets too silly you will lose the opportunity to teach.
At Kids In Sports, we give kids the foundation to succeed in sports and realize that kids are most successful when they have parents helping to reinforce skills at home!