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Differentiation: mixing the best players with the weakest | Coaching Children (Ages 5-12)

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Posted in: All other coaching children topics

Differentiation: mixing the best players with the weakest

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  • dancottrell1

    How do you differentiate in your training sessions?

    This is a more multi-layered question than differentiating on just skill. In sports like rugby, size and speed play a part. And in all sports, desire and fitness.

    I have been reflecting on how I do it, how I have done it, and what works, what doesn't and what can sometimes work.

    But, given I have been in coaching for so long, many of my "tricks" are subtle and based on quickly reading the circumstances. That's experience for you. For a new coach, they don't have those experiences available to them. Therefore it's time for me to set out some guidelines that help new coaches.

    Here are my initial lines in the sand:

    1. Don't split the team by ability

    2. Use a mix of games and activities. Games to allow players to explore, activities to set challenges

    3. Use small-group activities, mixing ability

    4. Don't overtly differentiate. Instead, usual individual feedback or challenges to push players.

    5. Praise effort more than outcomes

    Hope to develop these through this thread, so look forward to hearing others ideas along the way.

  • Clenchiecoach

    Interesting question that has suddenly become very relevant.

    My local football club has a large number of u8 kids for next year and needs to split them into two groups for the next year.

    (league rules decree this ridiculous practice and this may well become the subject of a later grumpy blog!)

    So, the question was asked how we should split them?

    My idea? Turn up for a session, announce we're having a game and let the kids decide who they want to play with. Once they've done that (and probably decided to play with their mates), you have the basis of the two squads?

    Additionally, if you play the game and it's fairly even, they're sorted, without parents or coaches directly involved in 'choosing'. Then Dan's useful pointers for mixed ability sessions come in very handy.

    It's their game after all?

    Any thoughts/opinions/experience welcome.

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