How to Help Kids Develop Basic Athletic Skills

Endurance

Endurance is one of the easiest areas to train with children. Give them a ball of some kind and off they go, astounding us with their seemingly endless amount of energy.

Not all kids are created equal physically, however, and this is one of the important areas of development, as it will challenge you as a coach/parent to identify differences.

Every child can build up endurance and it's one of the fundamental aspects to improvement in sports. It's important to encourage participation in sports and physical activities. In time, the more kids participate the more their endurance will develop.

This may require some creativity to keep kids motivated and to keep things fun and interesting. It's important to be aware that pushing a child too far can lead to negative outcomes such as the child developing a fear or even a dislike of physical activity. If little Johnny and Brenda are tiring out but you want the other kids to continue, be creative. If doing a soccer drill, have them shag balls from behind the net; if doing layups in basketball, have them pass the balls to the players in line.

More: How to Help Young Athletes Learn From Mistakes

Flexibility

Most kids at this age are like putty and can bend and twist themselves into shapes that make us adults wince. The key goal for this age group is to encourage a healthy lifestyle. Stress the importance of stretching so that kids will develop a routine and get in the habit of stretching before physical activity. Stretching can help prevent injury and increase flexibility.

Developing a stretching routine early on will help kids succeed as teen and adult athletes, when stretching will play a larger role for injury management and performance.

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Coordination

This is one of those skills where repetition is your best friend. At this age, try, try, try again is a common theme. Hand-eye coordination, running, jumping, catching-so many of the things we take for granted as we get older, can be difficult to grasp at this age. Vary your practice/drills to encompass different levels of coordination. It's also important to focus on different aspects of coordination and not just focus on one task or skill. This is an easy trap to fall into-basketball coaches may focus too much on shooting, soccer coaches on scoring, football coaches on catching, etc.

Discouragement is a key area to be wary of, as you will find a vast range of skill levels. A large number of kids at this age quit sports altogether because they struggle with different skills such as catching, throwing or shooting.

You can help kids avoid negative feelings and attitudes by staying positive, providing positive feedback, and encouraging them to keep trying. If you have a few kids who just can't catch a basketball without dropping it, maybe have them stand closer, or bounce it first. Find something they can do and slowly build up from there.

More: How to Motivate Your Young Athlete to Get Better

The main thing to remember at this age is that kids have, for the most part, an abundance of energy. They want to play, run, throw, kick a ball, and try new sports. Mold that energy around these areas of conditioning and give them a solid foundation for a lifetime of sports and healthy activity.

More: 6 Ways to Teach Your Kids to Be Active for Life

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About the Author

Breakthrough Basketball provides a variety of resources and information for basketball coaches, players and parents-including free eBooks, articles, videos, instructional DVDs, camps, apps and forums. Visit their website at www.breakthroughbasketball.com to become a better coach or player.

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