Context is king when coaching kids...

Ash_Smith

Legend
Context is king when it comes to kids learning

My daughter is a bit of a numbers wizard, I say this not to brag (well maybe a little bit!), but to illustrate an interesting point.

She is 4.5 years old (going on 15) and numbers have always come fairly easily to her. She very quickly learned to count to 100, to count up in 2's and 5's and 10's and 20's, to add and subtract and to divide into halves and quarters. She loves numbers. They play an important part in her little life, she can count toys and Lego bricks and use them to work out how many plates and cups and saucers her "fluffies" need when having a tea party, or how much things cost and how much change to give when we're playing shops, or to add up the dice when we play snakes and ladders so she knows how many squares to move, or to work out whether she has won the most money in Monopoly…

Reading and blending sounds however, is a different story. I have no doubt she is "smart" enough to do it and do it well, but she's not really that bothered by it. I asked her why she didn't want to do her reading sounds practice the other day? I said "once you can blend more sounds and read more words you'll be able to read stories for yourself…" she replied "but I don't want to read to myself, you and mummy read me stories?!" In her head, the need to learn how to blend sounds has no context, she has no "need" of it because by learning to read, in her head it means that story time with mummy and daddy ends.

In her world, she can see why numbers are important - she can use those. Letters and sounds on a page however, right now, have no context, no reason (my tricky job now is to provide some!)

When we look at kids sports, we see the same patterns. Without play, kids just come to lessons and for some that might maintain interest for a while, but eventually, without the context of playing the game, that interest wanes when something else "more fun" comes along.

If we give kids context they'll keep on learning and keep on playing. Kids tennis programmes usually start by planning the lessons and then (sometimes, if the kids are lucky) will plan some other stuff - what if we started by planing our competitions & events first and gave the kids some context for why they are practicing? Wed keep more kids in the game for longer for sure
 

Dragy

Legend
It’s interesting, and I share the approach - that you gets kids involved and motivated if they see reasons to practice...

Meanwhile, trying to widen the perspective, there are possibilities when kids are not yet fond of competition. Just not natural for all: my son was trying to avoid challenge, and competition at most, since age of 3. He meanwhile enjoyed achievements very much, and was happy to acquire new skills, but got terribly frustrated by difficulties and even minor failure in the process... We’ve supported and tricked him a lot to get involved, got him into groups with other kids, did lots of things together, and after 5.5 he’s now beginning to be much more resilient to fear of failure, and enjoying some degree of competition, I hope... but it, interestingly, came after acquiring more skills and growing through some shaky age.

So again, at some stage they are not yet ready to try to overcome even if some context is there. And unless we help them they may actually stagnate in this stage even aging, I’m afraid.

Now if they show ability to focus and try for other things they consider valuable, getting them more diligent with tennis (or whatever) practice absolutely should benefit from what you suggest.
 

Ash_Smith

Legend
^^^ The key there is to ensure the competition is appropriate for the age and stage of the players. Competition isn't just play a match and move on or move out. It could involve teams, it could involve problem solving, collecting, co-operating, competing, personal bests etc.

Make the "competitions" memorable, have some social, some food, make player passes like the pro's have. Then consider what skills do the players need to enjoy them (tactical, psychosocial, mental etc) and that forms the basis for your coaching programme in the lead up to the event.
 

Fxanimator1

Hall of Fame
Context is king when it comes to kids learning

My daughter is a bit of a numbers wizard, I say this not to brag (well maybe a little bit!), but to illustrate an interesting point.

She is 4.5 years old (going on 15) and numbers have always come fairly easily to her. She very quickly learned to count to 100, to count up in 2's and 5's and 10's and 20's, to add and subtract and to divide into halves and quarters. She loves numbers. They play an important part in her little life, she can count toys and Lego bricks and use them to work out how many plates and cups and saucers her "fluffies" need when having a tea party, or how much things cost and how much change to give when we're playing shops, or to add up the dice when we play snakes and ladders so she knows how many squares to move, or to work out whether she has won the most money in Monopoly…

Reading and blending sounds however, is a different story. I have no doubt she is "smart" enough to do it and do it well, but she's not really that bothered by it. I asked her why she didn't want to do her reading sounds practice the other day? I said "once you can blend more sounds and read more words you'll be able to read stories for yourself…" she replied "but I don't want to read to myself, you and mummy read me stories?!" In her head, the need to learn how to blend sounds has no context, she has no "need" of it because by learning to read, in her head it means that story time with mummy and daddy ends.

In her world, she can see why numbers are important - she can use those. Letters and sounds on a page however, right now, have no context, no reason (my tricky job now is to provide some!)

When we look at kids sports, we see the same patterns. Without play, kids just come to lessons and for some that might maintain interest for a while, but eventually, without the context of playing the game, that interest wanes when something else "more fun" comes along.

If we give kids context they'll keep on learning and keep on playing. Kids tennis programmes usually start by planning the lessons and then (sometimes, if the kids are lucky) will plan some other stuff - what if we started by planing our competitions & events first and gave the kids some context for why they are practicing? Wed keep more kids in the game for longer for sure
These type of posts are the reason you shouldn’t leave the board for a year or more.:)
 

5263

G.O.A.T.
Context is king when it comes to kids learning



If we give kids context they'll keep on learning and keep on playing. Kids tennis programmes usually start by planning the lessons and then (sometimes, if the kids are lucky) will plan some other stuff - what if we started by planing our competitions & events first and gave the kids some context for why they are practicing? Wed keep more kids in the game for longer for sure
Yes, giving any client context that THEY value is very Key!
and especially kids as you highlight.
 

mcs1970

Hall of Fame
A coach can be doing all the correct things and the kid’s heart is just not into that sport for whatever reason. Also even if the kid loves the sport, too much rigor, expectations, or harsh coaching might kill that initial motivation.

My feeling is if the kid is motivated and looks like he/she is there of their own accord, you have won 90% of the battle as a coach. You don’t need to worry about any context. Your job then is to not develop a champion but to ensure that you don’t kill the kid’s love for the game. Let other things as far as where the kid ultimately ends up as a player take care of itself.

For the kids who don’t want to be there, it’s much more difficult for the coach since they have to reach them at the individual level. No cookie cutter approach will work there anyway. Again though if you can get them to wanting to come to the lessons, you have started winning that battle too.
 

Ash_Smith

Legend
^^^ They are, their early learning is almost exclusively through mimicry (walking, talking). But this isn't refering to motor learning, this is about giving kids the context so that they understand why they are learning. With those early skills (walking and talking), there is a need for learning, motor skills for tennis are not necessary - unless you are actually playing tennis - and weirdly so many tennis programmes for kids forget the bit where they actually go and play and schedule lessons on lessons on lessons and so, after a time, kids leave for other activities because they don't really have a why, a need.
 

mcs1970

Hall of Fame
Content without context is hard to assimilate.
I agree with the feedback loop approach totally

My only disagreement was the last line in your OP where you talked about the feedback loop as something that will ensure the kids keep on playing. My apologies if I interpreted you incorrectly


What I meant is when there is a natural interest or love for something you do, as a coach you don’t have to worry about the context. The kid will find ways to play games, do drills on their own, etc. Kids will always find excuses to do things they love just as they will find excuses to avoid things they don’t love.

I coached youth basketball for many years. Not as a paid coach. Just a volunteer dad. My feeling is that as coaches we tends to beat ourselves up too much. At the end of the day we should do our best but basic interest in something while we can try our best to build it up in different ways, ultimately it has to come from the student. All we can do is not kill their enthusiasm no matter how much or how little that might be. Some kids, and adults tbh, are not looking for the feedback loop. Just hitting and drilling might be more fun than playing actual matches. You have to know what the kids want.
 

socallefty

Hall of Fame
Some kids enjoy competing in sports and other activities because they enjoy the joy of winning so much that they are willing to endure the pain of losing in a competition. Other kids cannot handle the pain of losing and don’t like competition at all. With the first kid, you can start involving them in competitive play early and it will grow their interest for a new sport. With the second kid, it might be good to bring along their skills to a certain extent and grow their confidence before putting them in a lot of competitive contests as they might give up tennis too soon otherwise. Parents sometimes do not recognize what kind of kid they have even more so than coaches especially if the parents have low EQ.

The kids who become champions not only love to compete, but seem to hate losing intensely and have an inner drive to get better so that they don’t lose much. That quality is rare in both kids and adults and I’m sure every coach is always looking for that type of student.
 

mcs1970

Hall of Fame
Some kids enjoy competing in sports and other activities because they enjoy the joy of winning so much that they are willing to endure the pain of losing in a competition. Other kids cannot handle the pain of losing and don’t like competition at all. With the first kid, you can start involving them in competitive play early and it will grow their interest for a new sport. With the second kid, it might be good to bring along their skills to a certain extent and grow their confidence before putting them in a lot of competitive contests as they might give up tennis too soon otherwise. Parents sometimes do not recognize what kind of kid they have even more so than coaches especially if the parents have low EQ.

The kids who become champions not only love to compete, but seem to hate losing intensely and have an inner drive to get better so that they don’t lose much. That quality is rare in both kids and adults and I’m sure every coach is always looking for that type of student.
Would give this more likes if I could.
 

nyta2

Professional
Context is king when it comes to kids learning

My daughter is a bit of a numbers wizard, I say this not to brag (well maybe a little bit!), but to illustrate an interesting point.

She is 4.5 years old (going on 15) and numbers have always come fairly easily to her. She very quickly learned to count to 100, to count up in 2's and 5's and 10's and 20's, to add and subtract and to divide into halves and quarters. She loves numbers. They play an important part in her little life, she can count toys and Lego bricks and use them to work out how many plates and cups and saucers her "fluffies" need when having a tea party, or how much things cost and how much change to give when we're playing shops, or to add up the dice when we play snakes and ladders so she knows how many squares to move, or to work out whether she has won the most money in Monopoly…

Reading and blending sounds however, is a different story. I have no doubt she is "smart" enough to do it and do it well, but she's not really that bothered by it. I asked her why she didn't want to do her reading sounds practice the other day? I said "once you can blend more sounds and read more words you'll be able to read stories for yourself…" she replied "but I don't want to read to myself, you and mummy read me stories?!" In her head, the need to learn how to blend sounds has no context, she has no "need" of it because by learning to read, in her head it means that story time with mummy and daddy ends.

In her world, she can see why numbers are important - she can use those. Letters and sounds on a page however, right now, have no context, no reason (my tricky job now is to provide some!)

When we look at kids sports, we see the same patterns. Without play, kids just come to lessons and for some that might maintain interest for a while, but eventually, without the context of playing the game, that interest wanes when something else "more fun" comes along.

If we give kids context they'll keep on learning and keep on playing. Kids tennis programmes usually start by planning the lessons and then (sometimes, if the kids are lucky) will plan some other stuff - what if we started by planing our competitions & events first and gave the kids some context for why they are practicing? Wed keep more kids in the game for longer for sure
similarly i've been annoyed with our education system in general... i think musk hit's the nail on the head...
a while ago, my son recently was complaining about the math he was being forced to memorize, "what's the point?"...
fast forward a few months, i asked him what he was going over in his game programming class, and he says he said, "pythagorean theorem"... and i'm thinking, what the heck does that have to do with programming constructs... turns out he was building some obstacle course where he had to measure how objects where interacting, and needed to apply some math formulas to make it work...

back to tennis... the context aspect is why i love the game based approach... cuz everyone wants to win... and when you lose, you immediately see the value of the tools you're practicing to help you win.
 

ChaelAZ

G.O.A.T.
Context is king when it comes to kids learning
Agreed. All learning needs context and practical application. I've worked in education for some time and this is the mantra we use when working with faculty to build course content and provide transparency in teaching and learning - not just what to learn, but the how and why of learning as well. In many disciplines they need to focus on rote learning though at the introductory level (still with context), but also with the caveat that practical application will follow as they scaffold learning.

As far as the education system according to Elon, I think he misses the bigger mark of learning, which is using experience and critical thinking for people to be able to apply knowledge across the human experience. There is so little critical thinking it doesn't surprise me that being able to transfer and apply knowledge is missing for many. Not to mention building a desire to learn and self-efficacy.

I loved Greg Prudhomme's model for the instruction my son had with him, and that I learned from as well. Basically, identify the rote skill, discuss the situations where it is applicable and not applicable, practice and repetition of both the rote skill and situational play, then situational play in gamified or pressure scenarios. Was impressive.
 
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