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Young Athletes: 3 Tips to Training A Winner

Whether coaching overseas, volunteering with the Jr. NBA program or working with local players, Game On has found these following tips to be at the heart of training winners at all levels.

1. Fun Before Fundamentals

Joy is a more productive motivator than fear, and a more sustaining reward than a trophy. Players who may not be winning yet, but are having fun and progressing are more likely to have the psychological stamina to move to the next level than a player who is winning but unhappy. For this reason, it is important to balance skill development with fun activities that keep players at all levels connected with the love of the game.

Stage, Not Age

2. Stage, Not Age

Though schools and athletic organizations often organize players by age, the most effective way to train an athlete is to recognize which stage of development they are at and train them accordingly. Based in part on my certification training with the CAO, here are the four stages of development we use at Game On Camps:

· Sport Fundamentals - Basic introduction to athletic movement necessary for all sports, including throwing, catching, jumping, running, agility, balance and coordination. This stage forms the basis for future sport skill development and for the life-long enjoyment of physical activity. · Learn to Play - Instruction on sports-specific fundamentals, including rules and positions with focus on skills and drills, nutrition and modified game play. · Train to Compete - Intermediate skill development with introduction to game strategy, sports psychology, nutrition. Introduction to competitive game play with the focus on learning and progressing. · Train to Win - Advanced skill development and game strategy with in-depth sports psychology and nutrition. Advanced competitive play with the focus on progressing and winning.

Develop the Person, Not Just the Player

3. Develop the Person, Not Just the Player

In addition to skill development and having fun, a winning training regimen includes nutrition, fitness (including not just strength, speed and core, but flexibility and rest) and character development. Training players with a more wholistic approach will give them a true competitive edge. I have watched talented players sit uselessly on the bench, side-swiped by the flu due to a sugar addiction that resulted in a weak immune system. I have seen highly skilled players lose their handle on the game because their strength of character was easily shaken and caused them to play defeated. And I have watched a player with a sweet cross-over jumper who can't quite reach the apex of her shot due to poor flexibility. Training a winner requires raising him as person, not just as a player, and paying attention to a wider spectrum of athletic health and emotional maturity.

For more information on Game On Camp's coaching philosophy, contact us!

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