6 Tips for Coaching Youth Triathletes

Do you have a youngster interested in pursuing the sport of triathlon? Alan Ley of USA Triathlon Life magazine offers these six tips for coaching youth triathletes. Be sure to check out Active.com's kids triathlon directory to find a race near you!

  1. Seven- to 15-year-olds are not adults. Always put their best interests, healthy, safety and long-term personal development first!

  2. Teach technique and neuromuscular pattering before anything else.
    • Use visuals, demonstrations, video or pictures. Young athletes are very visual and need to "see" what you want done first.
    • Keep the technique sessions short.
    • Use slow-motion movements and ask the athletes to "feel" the movement.
    • Have them shut their eyes and visualize the movements.
    • Teach the young athletes one movement at a time and repeat it until they get it right.
  3. When teaching any new changes in movement (swimming, cycling or running), break the change into small sections. Make one small change at a time. Youth and adults become overwhelmed with too many changes or corrections are all happening at once.

  4. Coach one thing at a time and have them perform it right before moving on to something new.

  5. Not always, but many times a movement done silently or as quietly as possible makes for a more efficient movement pattern. Try asking your young athlete to swim silently or run quietly, and you will be amazed at how the athlete can change their movements based on sound. It works!

  6. Last and most importantly: give them plenty of rest when teaching technique and new patterns of movement. This is not the time to work on endurance. Teach technique at the beginning of a session. Revisit it in the middle of a workout and reinforce it at the end with slow short repeats with lots of rest between.

Alan Ley formerly served as the USAT coaching education manager and is now the ITU sport development manager. His passion is developing the sport of triathlon and working with young triathletes around the world.

This article originally was published in the spring edition of USA Triathlon Life magazine. USA Triathlon is proud to serve as the national governing body for triathlon--the fastest growing sport in the world - as well as duathlon, aquathlon and winter triathlon in the United States. Visit usatriathlon.org.


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