BUILD IT AND IT WILL COME – PATIENCE IS KEY
After just completing our 4th incredible 8-week summer camp session at Game On! Sports Camp 4 Girls, I came to notice a consistent pattern worth sharing.
As we worked with our campers (ages 4 through 14) on the fundamentals in a variety of sports, during team time or on a more individual basis, the great majority rarely picked up a skill right off the bat. (No pun intended.) More specifically, many hardly showed signs of improvement week after week. Whether due to lack of muscle development, coordination, or repetition/practice, things just wouldn’t “click.”
The challenge for the coach or instructor then becomes to minimize the frustration on the part of the athlete and frankly, the parents. No doubt a natural reaction for the athlete will be to deflate, sometimes to the extent of wishing to give up all together. The parents too may jump to blame the coach and start looking to shift their business elsewhere. No so fast.
In fact, slow down. This is where a coach or instructor should be given the opportunity to show his or her true talent. It is up to the coach to keep the sessions fun and productive, thereby enticing the athlete to keep pushing. For example, alter the drills and games so that the critical repetition is accomplished but buried in the fun and variety. Also important, it is possible that the instructor can break down the skill into smaller learning steps. Best to explain this by the popular Lego analogy:
When constructing your model, instructions for the more skilled or veteran builder may include a step that involves organizing and attaching an entire robot arm. For the younger or less skilled though, breaking that one step into smaller steps may allow for the same proud result.
Extrapolating this analogy into teaching the fundamentals of bunting in softball or a pick & roll to the basket in basketball is valuable. Rather than teach to move as a whole, it is very possible the athlete will respond better and faster to the move broken down into smaller parts.
Sure there are those exceptions to the rule who naturally pick up a skill within minutes or hours as if they had been doing it every day throughout their lives. And they move forward. Yet inevitably, the skill level will pose a challenge that will require this same calculated approach.
So, the bottom line is to be patient. Allow your athlete to continue the building process while enjoying. Guaranteed, with time and commitment, the coveted “click” will come. And when it does, as it did for our campers at Game On!, the feeling is quite sweet.