Coaching kids from Nursery to Adulthood (2)

Coaching kids from Nursery to Adulthood (Part 2)

Continuing on from Part 1

3. Learning to Train

8 to 11 years [girls]; 9 to 12 years [boys]

During this stage, children are ready to learn and refine the general sports skills they need for athletic development and participation in sport for health. Children are developmentally ready to acquire general overall sports skills that are the cornerstones of all athletic development.

Increase in Workload

The kids are now old enough to train mid-week. Leagues are now a regular fixture and are becoming more competitive. The stronger players occasionally get to play up an age group. Primary schools now field teams for Spring and Autumn leagues, with their own training. And kids don’t, and nor should they, specialise by dropping a sport.

Workload Scoring is central to SURPASSPORT, connecting around the child, and informing each coach as to their workload and associated risks of injury and helping to gradually increase workload, allowing the child’s body (and mind) to adapt and respond.

Feedback on ‘fun’

With the increased focus on skills development, age-appropriate strength & conditioning and competitions, it’s important to keep an eye on ‘fun’. SURPASSPORT automatically requests this feedback after every session, offering 4 simple “smiley faces” and building a pattern that can help identify potential issues before they have a chance to take hold.

Coaching Paperwork

We coach because we have a passion for the sport, not the admin! Attendance, Availability, Individual Feedback, Team Communications and Teamsheets for Matches are but some of the easy to use capabilities on SURPASSPORT, and of course, the other team coaches can help out, especially when you’re away on holidays or business.

Maturation Assessment

The SURPASSPORT Maturation Assessment helps to identify the “window of accelerated adaptation to motor coordination”, which typically occurs during this phase. The Assessment will also identify early-maturing individuals, generating awareness of their earlier development and on how best to structure training & conditioning, both to allow them to benefit from the corresponding windows of accelerated adaptation and also to retain motivation as they physically dominate their peers.

4. Training to Train

 11 to 15 years [girls]; 12 to 16 years [boys]

During the Training to Train phase young players/athletes start to specialise in the sport of their choice and consolidate basic sport-specific skills and tactics. While children start competing more seriously, the major focus during competition is on applying what they’ve learned in training — not on winning at all costs.

This is the phase during which most children enter puberty, begin their growth spurts and transition towards adulthood.

Workload Management

Educating the young athletes into better understanding their own workload will help them better prepare for performance, and will help coaches from other teams better appreciate why they need to miss a training or conditioning session. SURPASSPORT supports a second Workload Scoring based on the Athlete’s Rate of Perceived Exertion (RPE), offering a second measure feeding into the coaches’s understanding of the athlete’s individual commitments.

Wellbeing Measures

Building awareness of how their wellbeing impacts performance helps young athletes better prepare for training, recovery and competition.

SURPASSPORT supports Wellbeing Prompts requesting a morning measure on some or all of sleep, stress, mood, appetite, energy levels and soreness, building a pattern over time and reported to the coach alongside other per- / post- activity metrics.

Coaching Paperwork

SURPASSPORT still covers Attendance, Availability, Individual Feedback and Team Communications, but Fixture Planning, Teamsheets for Matches, Supporting Players and Matchplay simplify team selection and competition preparations.

Maturation Assessment

The SURPASSPORT Maturation Assessment is key to predict or confirm each individual’s growth timing and identify their corresponding biological age. The “window of accelerated adaptation to aerobic and strength training” is tied to the start of the growth spurt, and aerobic training should be prioritised during this time, while skill, speed and strength should be maintained or developed further as part of regular training.

Special emphasis is also required for flexibility training, due to the sudden growth of bones, tendons, ligaments and muscles.

5. Training to Compete

15 to 17 years [girls]; 16 to 18 years [boys]

This stage is about the development of athletes as young adults. By now, they are specialising in one sport and working on event- or position- specific skills and physical demands. They’re soccer goalkeepers, not soccer players; 800-metre runners, not track and field athletes.

Everything in this stage is about optimising physical preparation. But there is a caution. Athletes must FULLY develop their Training to Train skills and physical preparation before starting Training to Compete skills and activities.

Fitness programmes, recovery programmes, psychological preparation and technical development are now individually tailored to a greater degree. This emphasis on individual preparation addresses each player/athlete’s individual strengths and weaknesses. Double and multiple periodisation is the optimal framework of preparation.

Workload Management

Educating the young athletes into better understanding their own workload will help them better prepare for performance, and will help coaches from other teams better appreciate why they need to miss a training or conditioning session. SURPASSPORT supports a second

The Athlete should be granted access to their own profile, and respond to team requests using information from their Workload Score, coupled with their Rate of Perceived Exertion (RPE), and helping then understand when they might need to say ‘no’.

Wellbeing Measures

Daily Wellbeing Prompts now forms a regular input for gauging preparation and readiness, for the coach and the athlete.

Coaching Paperwork

Paperwork rarely reduces! Attendance, Availability, Individual Feedback and Team Communications are all routine at this stage, allowing coaches to focus on bringing new learnings to their teams.

The SURPASSPORT Supporting Players management deserves a special mention, as many clubs operate juvenile and senior sections / divisions, and this allows for a managed relationship between team coaches who may share access to the stronger, most talented players.

Maturation Assessment

The SURPASSPORT Maturation Assessment is important, especially for boys, to confirm when their growth peaked. This is to ensure that the start of their “window of accelerated adaptation to strength training” is clearly identified, recommended at least 18 months after growth peaked.

Building muscle mass before growth has tailed off can lead to joint deformities, ligament attachment issues and has been linked to chronic issues through to adulthood.

6. Training to Win

17+ years [girls]; 18+ years [boys]

This is the final phase of athletic preparation. All of the player/athlete’s physical, technical, tactical, mental, personal and lifestyle capacities are now fully established and the focus of training has shifted to the maximisation of performance.

Players/athletes are trained to peak for major competitions. Training is characterised by high intensity and relatively high volume.

Frequent “prophylactic” (preventative) breaks help to prevent physical and mental burnouts. Training-to-competition ratio in this phase is 25:75, with the competition percentage including competition-specific training activities.


All capabilities discussed above are still applicable for adult players, especially at club level. Only a small number of juvenile athletes progress to elite.

The successful club will have instilled a passion for their sport, discipline in physical training and a sense of community translating into teams which compete at regional and national level, at every standard. Paperwork and communications continue to be relevant!

Check out our Sports Science citations for academic references.

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