Originally Posted by Max_501
Can you add more detail on the above. I hate to see kids get burned out but I see plenty of it. Your experiences and lessons would be useful for all of us involved with junior racing to read and consider.
Certainly. First, I coach Y7 racers so that's ages 5 & 6 so while we aren't as seriously into technique this year can make or break them as far as loving or hating racing life. A few things that I am keenly aware of on any given day is whether they're having fun, making sure they aren't miserable due to cold or equipment issues, and trying new things to challenge them. So, I'm open to warm up breaks (my coaches NEVER did that) when warranted. We try to do something new and challenging every week (we train 1 day a week). Last week was a bumped out black diamond. The first black diamond for some (bumped out was not in the plan but once we were there we had to go for it). And we did a tree run that the kids always love. On a bad day, when the kids are frustrated I'm not opposed to finding some stand of trees and having a snowball fight (away from other guests). I try to end every day on a positive note. Ask any of my kids what my number 1 rule is and they will tell you "have fun".
I praise the kids a lot and try to talk to them about what's going on. I won't post the whole story like I did over on SkiDiva but this weekend I had a major breakthrough with one little girl. She has issues related to a diagnosed disorder and starts most mornings in tears with me begging her to give me one run. Every time thus far the one run has helped her through the issues but until Saturday she'd been pretty ho-hum about training. This week something was different and she was beating the boys down every run, grinning ear to ear and just plain excited. I asked her what the difference was and her explanation was that she dreamed it would be a good day. Of course I told her she needed to have that dream every week but more importantly I told her I liked this little girl and that I was very proud of her. I NEVER heard those words as a racer, neither from the coaches or my father.
I communicate with parents weekly via an email talking about what we did the last week and what's coming up the next weekend. I also talk to parents about what level we should push them at. For example, I ask that they not fret over results at our first race. Don't push for winning, don't push for a certain time, just push for having fun and learning something.
But, that's not to say I'm a pushover with the kids. If we're doing a drill I expect it to be done. They can't opt out. Saturday I had a little boy tell me he didn't want to do a drill (holding poles horizontally out in front of them since they ALL have their hands practically in their pockets
. His words were "I don't wanna" my response was "It's not an option, you're doing it" and he pouted for a bit but I'm guessing forgot about it halfway through the run. And I am the disciplinarian of the two coaches (I have a co-coach) and they know when I mean business.
Finally, when they do something well I am over expressive. One run, a few weeks ago I finally saw every kid in parallel and was following them down the hill. When they stopped at our designated stopping point I skied up whooping it up and high-fived each of them. The rest of the day they all kept saying "Coach, watch my french fries, watch!" They love that praise and if that gets them doing what I want while having fun I'm willing to loose my voice over it (which I just about do every weekend).