Understanding Fundamental Movement Skills
– Danielle Nesbitt & Derrick Bullard
Too often coaches and parents push their children into specialization of sports in the hope their child will become an elite athlete; however, the journey to becoming an elite athlete is a complex one that requires a strong foundation both mentally and physically. It is important for the growth and development of a young athlete to have all the necessary prerequisites for success. These skills are developed through the exploration of a variety of movement opportunities (i.e., sports and play) and the understanding that development of those skills change with age. This article outlines key components and gives practical examples to help the young athlete develop.
Generalize over Specialize: Examining the Long-Term Athlete Development Model to Optimize Youth Athlete Development
– Melanie E. Perrault & Stephen P. Gonzalez
At the youth level, there is an ongoing debate between two paradigms concerning the development of athletic performance: early sport specialization vs. diversification. Early sport specialization (i.e., intense training in one specific sport) can lead to high-level performance, especially for sports that have a lower age at peak performance (e.g., women’s gymnastics); however, there are many drawbacks including an increased risk for injury and burnout. Consequently, there has been a push for diversification, wherein young athletes participate in several sports early on and gradually specialize overtime. This process ensures that children develop many fundamental motor skills that become the building blocks for more specialized sport skills. One model that has adopted this idea is the Long-Term Athlete Development (LTAD) model. The purpose of this article is to provide an overview of the LTAD model and explain how physical education teachers and youth sport coaches can implement the model into their curriculum and programs.
Youth Athletic Development: Including the Science of Periodization into Practice
– Anthony S. Smith
Sport coaches can agree that various levels of practice and play contribute significantly to the overall development of a young athlete. Coaches of young athletes need to also address issues related to strength and conditioning as part of the developmental cycle. Unfortunately, many sport coaches are not well trained in the science related to strength and conditioning and many athletes are woefully undertrained or inappropriately trained. To fully develop young athletes, all coaches need to have some basic knowledge of the science of strength and conditioning, not just fitness fundamentals. The complete development of young athletes incorporates a training system known as periodization. This process involves a systematized program of variables that are inversely proportional, meaning as one variable goes up, and the other variable goes down. In terms of sport seasons, as athletes spend more time in skill development during the in-season, strength and conditioning time should be reduced. This process is reversed in other situations where less skill development occurs then more strength and conditioning can, and should, occur. This article summarizes how coaches can implement strength and conditioning into practice sessions and what to do in the off-season to enhance sport skill development.
Developing Mental Skills in Youth Athletes
– Melissa Thompson & Alisha Hilliard
Youth sport coaches have an incredibly complex and challenging role. The physical developmental changes that youth and adolescents go through can seemingly happen overnight. It is not surprising, therefore, that coaches spend most of their time thinking about how to help players with their physical skills. However, the significant developmental changes (e.g. cognitive, social, and emotional) that are happening just below the surface are equally as important and may be the key to an athlete improving. The purpose of this article is to describe how coaches can incorporate strategies for developing mental skills in a youth sport setting. Three areas, cognitive, social, and emotional development, are discussed with specific strategies for how to coach when working with youth across various sport settings. In considering each of these areas of development, critical milestones are highlighted with a short discussion of how those milestones might impact youth sport coaching. The article also provides suggestions on how to teach mental skills to youth. Finally, a season-long planning tool for incorporating mental skills into training is discussed. Ultimately, understanding how athlete development should impact your coaching and how you can train mental skills are two areas that can improve your effectiveness as a coach.
Fueling Youth Athletes for Success
– Kristen Morgan
In this fast-pace life the easiest foods are usually prepackaged, salt-enriched, and carb-loaded. While these foods may temporarily satisfy hunger, youth athletes need essential nutrients to excel in their sport. Nutrition is important for parents, coaches, and athletes to understand since inadequate nutrition has temporary and long-lasting effects on health. On the other hand, a balanced and nutritious meal plan prepares youth athletes for growth, physical and mental development, and optimal performance. The purpose of this article is to provide coaches, parents, and athletes with the resources to effectively fuel youth athletes for success. A sample 3-day meal plan is provided along with a list of recommended foods and foods to limit. Differences between elementary, middle, and high school level athletes are also discussed.
ADVOCACY IN ACTION
Advocating for Diverse Professional Development in Physical Education: Professional Learning Communities and Teacher Learning Walks
– Teri Schlosser, Craig Parkes, and Jamie J. Brunsdon
The aims of professional development can be described as increasing teachers' content knowledge and refining pedagogical practices in an attempt to enhance student success. However, PD often fails when it comes to sustaining pedagogical changes and improving student learning when only a traditional approach is implemented. Traditional PD approaches have used workshop designs over a one or two day period, through in-service activities held at a school or educational site such as a university. This article advocates that PE teachers can benefit from participating in diverse PD via professional learning communities (PLCs) and teacher learning walks.
Game-Design Teaching and Learning
– James Paul Gee and Amy Price
Schools have learned from video games by gamifying non-game like tasks as a tool to capture and sustain the attention and motivation of students, known as gamification. However, video game design also promotes good learning and not just engagement. This article will share ideas on how to design game-based activities to enhance the potential for students’ metacognitive and strategic thinking skills.
Coaching Early Childhood Athletes: Tips for Success
– Kason O’Neil and LeAnn Olson
The purpose of this article is to present some coaching tips and pedagogical tips that will help coaches of athletes in early childhood maximize participation and motivation, emphasize fun, and keep athlete’s parents telling you, “you are really great at coaching kids this young!”
THEORY INTO PRACTICE
From Play to Practice: Athlete Development for Coaches
– Graeme J. Connolly and LeeAnn Grayson
So, becoming an elite performer in any field (and, in sporting activities specifically) involves, in part, engaging in varying amount of deliberate play and deliberate practice. But, how do athletes develop to a point where they are motivated to engage in such sporting activities? And, what can coaches learn and apply from these different stages of athlete development? This article addresses these questions; first, by presenting an overview of the developmental model of sport participation (DMSP); and, then by outlining some specific applications of the DMSP model for coaching athletes.