Why? Things come too easy to them. They’re so used to picking things up quickly that they often aren’t open to working hard to learn.
“You need to find ways to motivate and challenge these kids so things aren’t so easy for them,” says Jake Kuritz, a coach, coach instructor, and former Division 1 athlete.
For example, an athlete who is fast and can kick a ball far and accurately might not want to take the time to work on smaller and simpler tasks, he says.
“Often, you see frustration or anger. They’ll say, ‘That’s stupid. I don’t need to learn that. I’ll stick to what I know.’ It’s a comfort zone.’”
In this case, coaches and parents need to step in and be creative, says Kuritz. They need to push these kids out of their comfort zones.
Sometimes, it’s a good idea to let these kids fail when they refuse to work on new skills….
“Let them fail in a controlled environment. Once they fail, let them know you are there for them and show them a better way to do things,” he says.
Kuritz says that as an athlete, he refused to learn how to alternate and use two legs when running hurdles. But once he lost a championship race as a result of this attitude. “It took me losing a championship race because I couldn’t alternate,” he says. And that changed his attitude.
In addition to letting kids fail and then helping them learn the skills you’re trying to teach them, parents and coaches can show young athletes the benefits of learning the skill.
That’s much more convincing than giving them a lecture or showing them a video, Kuritz says.
For example, when teaching kids the value of alternating when running hurdles, Kuritz asks young athletes to run the hurdles their way (without alternating) and then his way—alternating and using both legs.
He times them both ways and then shows them which is more effective. “The clock doesn’t lie,” he says.
It’s critical to help talented or early blooming athletes learn new skills for a number of reasons.
We’ve found that talented athletes are often confident and really trust in their skills, which is generally a good thing.
But they often don’t want to work hard. And that can disrupt the team’s work ethic.
Parents and coaches need to show these kids that they have to do more than simply show up and put their innate talents to good use.
Coaches and parents might even explain to kids that they’re setting bad examples by resisting hard work. Remind them that they’re more likely to succeed if the whole team is working hard.
Want to learn more about how to motivate talented and early blooming athletes, as well as other young athletes?
We’ve got numerous resources for you. First of all, exclusive members can listen to our entire interview with Kuritz here:
What’s more, exclusive members have access to an e-book about how to motivate young athletes with goal setting.
Plus many other e-books, some written just for kids, some for parents and coaches. We’ve also got loads of videos, articles, Q-and-As, audio interviews and more.
What are folks saying about our resources?
“Kids’ Sports Psychology quite a find. It’s a treasure trove of practical, insightful information presented in an organized, simple format that is so easy to use. It is exactly what I was looking for to help my daughter succeed in competition, as much as she succeeds during practice. Additionally, these concepts can be applied to all areas of her life and, as her parent, I can’t stress enough how important it is to me, that she develop confidence, and how valuable this resource is to that end. Thank you so much!”
~Stephanie Dobbs, Sports Parent and KSP Member
Learn how to motivate your young athletes and teach them skills that will help them succeed in sports—and life!
Lisa Cohn and Patrick Cohn, Ph.D.
PS. Coach Kuritz gives some great tips for motivating kids of all ages. Exclusive members can listen to our interview with him here: