Are We Failing Children? Set such high standards that when they fail it results in tears...

Recently on a 1-2-1 session, I was coaching a young lad who has great drive, determination and tenacity when it comes to running with the ball in hand on a rugby pitch. Through the most recent lockdown, though, we have been forced to run sessions without sharing any equipment - instead, they have been focused on running technique, speed and strength training, and improving fitness.

In the initial session, I ran through our bodyweight strength capacity challenge to assess his current levels of fitness and provide something to work from. The simple tests consist of 6 exercises scored out of a total of 30 points. When doing this, we advise that a score of 18 out of 30 is where we want to be for competition in recreational sport.

The first exercise is a squat (holding 10% of body weight), which like most young players he was able to score top points on. Puffed but with a sense of achievement, we moved throughout the challenge. We came to the upper body exercises, the first of which was the push-up. The player managed a handful of push-ups before falling to the floor and bursting into tears as the confidence he had built in the first few exercises was shattered. 

Some would argue that the protocol is the thing we should avoid to prevent this from happening, but if this is the reaction after a simple exercise to complete as many push-ups as possible, how will he react to other failures in his life?...

Children's resilience is more important than ever right now, and I think that resilience is being able to understand and be confident that you have the power to achieve anything you put your mind to. At one point or another, you would have heard the quote “knowledge is power”, we believe this is the case when it comes to understanding your athletic ability. One of the main reasons we do these challenges is to educate the player on where their current ability lies and help them to build a plan to achieve their dreams. 

This is a problem that is easily solved. What if teachers, coaches and parents were educated on simple principles of strength training? If resources were provided that could be integrated into weekly routines and a place where we could track, record and provide individualised feedback to the child and other people involved to help them achieve their potential?

Let’s stop failing these children….


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