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Sticks or Stickers
After spending 3 to 4 years observing coaches teaching children new skills I find it fascinating how different people try different styles to motivate children. I observe a coach in one sport who believes in the stick policy (and no we don’t mean an actual stick, just a strict policy). The children are required to do push-ups, or run a lap every time they lose their focus. I find this policy works better with the older 8 to 12 year old kids, rather than younger ones. The 5 to 7 year olds are sometimes too young to understand. I also find it works better with boys than with girls just as a means to implement discipline. I find with a stick policy, parental input does become important. It is crucial that the parent translate to the child, that the coach is not “being mean” but actually cares about the child and wants him or her to improve. Communication is also key. The children who started the program scared of this coach, leave it with much respect for him. Another program uses stickers for motivation. I have seen them being used for kids between the ages of 5 and 8 and for adolescents between 9 and 12. Who would think a simple sticker could be such a powerful tool. In one of the competitive programs that I observe, the coaches provide each child with a sheet of skills. At the end of each class they spend 5 minutes evaluating their individual performances. When a child has started attempting a new skill, they receive a sticker. When they master a skill they receive a sticker. Once a child has a page full of stickers (i.e. new skills) they can pick a small gift from the treasure box. It’s a simple concept. It has helped my daughter overcome her fears and climbed ropes all the way to the top of the gymnasium to obtain the treasured sticker and gain the confidence that she has mastered a new skill. The concept teaches them to self-evaluate their performance. Receiving a small token every couple of months never spoilt anyone and keeps the children motivated. Let us know what you find works best to motivate your kids or the kids you coach.
Lessons From The Sidelines
It’s Nationals qualifying week. I recognize some of the juniors on the court. As we monitor the courts it’s easy to identify which courts require more monitoring and where the aces seem more in control of the game and their emotions. I walk over and start monitoring a game at 1 set all, and watch the clearly stronger skilled player hand over the game to his technically weaker but mentally stronger opponent. The lessons from the courts remain the same, irrespective of whether it’s a junior tournament or a tournament for seniors in the above 60 category or whether it’s Squash or Tennis. 1) Mental strength trumps every time you have two opponents of equal skill on the court 2) Consistency matters. 3) If you think you will lose, most of the time you will lose because your strokes and errors will reflect that mindset 4) If you refuse to give up and stay calm your strokes and skills reflect it and you will surprise yourself. 5) If you think no one notices your temper tantrums you are mistaken. They may forget your good behaviour but no one forgets a kid misbehaving on the court. So a note to the parents, even if you know nothing about the sport and leave the coaching and techniques to the academy and lessons, do step in and help your Aces develop a good attitude on the court. That has little to do with the sport and more to do with parenting and sportsmanship and that is an area you can definitely help your child grow. If you have done your part and you can’t seem to get the message across, you can always try one of our OnDemand or Live sessions to drive home the process.