10 Observations from Coaching 6 Year Olds
- Our players always knew the score even when the scoreboard wasn't there.
- We took so many bad shots and I loved it. What a victory for a kid to come down the court and have the courage to do something. Seems like too much aggression on offense can be dialed back later on...hard to know what a bad shot is if you've never had the freedom to take one.
- Michael Scott from The Office once said that pizza is the great equalizer. For us, the equalizers were end of game fruit snacks (the non-organic kind). These little packages of goodness had a way of continuing any positive energy or canceling out any negative energy from the game.
- Our players didn't understand what it meant to "play hard" on defense or how to have a sense of urgency. So our last resort was to tell them to guard the other team as if they were a "ninja" on a secret mission -- this made all the difference.
- I felt like I aged every time we transitioned to something new in practice -- took a lot of effort -- laser focus that didn't always yield positive results. Thank you to our kids' teachers! I don't know how you all do it every day.
- Collectively, these little guys responded well to high energy type enthusiasm. Individually, they seemed to prefer just normal talking. They all wanted to be noticed and encouraged for something -- don't we all.
- The kids reacted better to moving forward type verbiage like take it to the rim, all the way, next play, keep shooting, or sprint as opposed to words that made them confused and want to freeze up -- pass, pass, look up, stop, stop, go stand there, no stand there, not there...right there.
- Just like we did for our son, I sensed that all of our parents wanted our season to be a positive experience and an opportunity for their son to grow...that's a big responsibility for any coach and we felt the weight of this.
- I noticed the kids had short memories from play to play on the court, but I'm pretty sure they'll remember the overall experience. I can go back to every elementary team I ever played on and tell you our team name, our coach, and friends on that team. Couldn't tell you the score of any game I played in, but the meaningfulness of relationship endures.
- Our team huddles always had a way of bringing out ultimate engagement and genuine excitement from the kids -- they somehow already knew it was special. Their physical reactions to yelling their team name as loud as they could was only proof that there is fulfillment in life when we get past ourselves. Even though it sometimes seems countercultural to the individualistic trajectory of athletics and achievement, how do we preserve the child-like joy that comes from being a member of a team? Suppose we'll all have to help each other on this one. Great season.
Check out the video below - a moment where 6 year olds realize that the ball travels faster in the air than off the bounce....a fun to watch.