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DEVELOPMENTAL ATHLETE


ATHLETE


Dr. Richard Ginsburg, member of the US Lacrosse Sports Science and Safety Committee and sports psychologist at Harvard Medical School, published the 10 tips for coaching youth adapted below:


1) Have fun. Kids remain active in a sport if they are having fun. Performance improves when participants enjoy playing the game.


2) Teach sportsmanship early. Coaches must impart good values (integrity, respect, compassion, etc.) and model good behavior.


3) Kids are not mini-adults. They are a work in progress and must be treated and coached differently than adults.


4) Design age-appropriate practices. Coaches should consider the physical, psychological and cognitive abilities of youth players when developing practice plans. In addition, coaches should minimize the amount of time spent standing around during practice.


5) Defi ne success appropriately for each age group. For pre-kindergarten and kindergarten aged kids, focus on fun and safe activity. Among elementary school aged youth, emphasize developing skills and friendships. With middle school and high school players, defi ne and recognize individual strengths and weaknesses.


6) Provide positive feedback. Research shows that a ratio of at least 5:1 between positive and negative feedback is needed.


7) Save specialization for older kids. Research shows that an unrealistic number of hours of activity is necessary to move a person’s skill set to a signifi cantly upgraded level.


8) Avoid over-training. Ginsburg says youths should play just one sport per season, and have at least 1-2 days off per week, and a break of at least two or three months from the game. He also cautions against increases in training levels that increase the risk of injury.


9) Use appropriate equipment. Avoid ill-fi tting hand-me-down equipment and make sure equipment fi ts properly.


10) Avoid moving kids into older age groupings based on skill level or physical development. Ginsburg says players risk injuries and social alienation when moved up.


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DEVELOPMENTAL ATHLETE


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