Just take them with you on your runs through the woods. All the talking in the world, in many cases, isn’t going to make a hoot of a difference. Go for a run, go for a ride. Gently encourage them to keep up. Pace for the weakest, the stronger will scurry ahead. Then go have an ice cream cone!
I work with a lot of young athletes in many settings. Motivationally, I stress the identification of them being “athletes”. I phrase statements and cues with “You are an athlete, you must connect your mind and body. We are driving the arms and legs when we run. Move your arms and legs powerfully and front to back. No wasted motion.”, for example in sprint work. I refer to them as “athletes” as in “Listen up athletes”. I avoid trying to shame or use negative talk like calling young men “lboys” or young women “girls”. I will say “gentlemen” to the young men and “ladies” to the young women, as in “Can I have your attention gentlemen/ladies.” We do a lot of focus and mental attitude work. The difference between effort with and without control is important. Reading body language is very important for instructors to know when to push and when to ease up. Everyone gets positive feedback. Corrections are made with the intention being to maintain focus and to get the athletes to ask questions until they feel they understand. I tell every athlete that I need them to be a part of the process. They are empowered to make me provide them with clear information. I do not want them to guess what I am trying to communicate. We work together. We are team mates, part of a group that has chosen to be “athletes”. And lastly, I stress that “athletes” compete to gauge their own progress. Their true competition is with themselves. Respecting themselves and others, congratulate all competitors and never taunt or trash talk. After all an athlete and a person should be about respect and sportsmanship.
I have not. I work more with mature adults in our outdoor group classes.
Mac Dodds M.A., CSCS
Live Your Best Years Now
I have indeed. I was working with a High School Auxilliary (Flag Corps). In the beginning it was a little difficult to get all of them to put forth the desired effort but, just like any 16 year olds, they had to test my limits. I suggest pushing them to improve every time they train. Knowing that the form and techniques they learn today are more than likely going to be what they remember to use for many years to come keeps you on your “A” game. To motivate them, I used partner and team drills. I found that they work harder in groups and motivate each other. Run some relays and watch them cheer each other on. Also, give everyone a personal “Good Job” at some point. It can be secretive while having a water break, or blatently announced before the masses but nobody gets left out. When they get singled out (for any reason) their response is always enhanced. Tell a girl she’s doing a good job and she wants to do better, tell her she’s not giving you her best and she works harder, knowing that you are paying attention (or sometimes cry if you aren’t sensitive about it; oh the tears and emotions of 16 year old girls. They might even cry over the “Good Job” too, so be prepared for that…I wasn’t) For the most part, when you get them to cooperate they motivate each other.