How Do We Really Work With Teen Athletes?

As parents or coaches of kids that are still growing up, there is no doubt that we have found ourselves in a situation more than once where we found it difficult to deal with them, especially if our kids are teenagers. Our adolescent athletes can surely be challenging. One second they are perfectly fine, and the next second they can be cranky. It is hard to gauge what their next emotion would be, and this is a result of their ranging hormones. Sometimes we even get to a point where we wish there is a manual about how do we really work with teen athletes.

Well, you’re in luck, as we have compiled here some pointers we need to keep in mind when dealing with our adolescent athletes!

Teenage Athlete

Like the sport of gymnastics, working with teenagers needs balance—balance between discipline and respect. Sometimes we make the mistake of emphasizing discipline more, and as a result of our disciplining process, our teenagers end up loathing us for being too strict. They might even lose their respect of us. On the other hand, if we stressed on respect too much, the discipline is left untaught.

The perfect balance between discipline and respect is like an endangered animal, it’s really hard to find, but it COULD be found. It is certain that we would make mistakes along the way, but once we’ve found it, we could work with our complicated teenage athletes better.

Here below is a mix of mistakes we should not do, or the right approaches we should do to really work with teen athletes.

1. Honesty—Of course honestly is the first and foremost. We should know that trying to hide things from our teenagers are not going to be good for them. If we keep saying that everything is alright and that nothing is wrong when in fact there is, they only feel like we’re treating them like they are stupid. In reality, most of the time they actually know what is happening. They know when something is not right, and even if we say everything is alright, they wouldn’t believe it.

Lying to our teenagers is not good also because they would think that lying to us is also right. If we lie to them, they can lie to us, right? And as parents or coaches, being honest to each other is important to know what they are thinking, to develop trust, and to be more open about some routines they could not do or if they are having a hard time during training. If they felt like they can’t be honest to us, they might hide the fact that they couldn’t do a certain exercise and they might practice in secret, which is not safe as it could lead to some serious injuries when not properly monitored.

2. Confrontations—As mentioned, there are times when we can’t understand our adolescent athlete. Because of this, we have to talk with them. It is also important to remember that talking to them is different from talking with them. Talking with them means we give them time to explain their side.

Teenagers view confrontations as something bad. It is common knowledge that they hate it, so we have to give confrontations a different image. If they are emotional, it is certainly not a good time to have a rational conversation. We should wait for them to calm down, and don’t use threats or guilt when talking. We must calm down ourselves, as they are. Our emotions shouldn’t get in the way, we shouldn’t treat them too young or too old, and we most certainly should not attack them personally. We must listen, and truly listen, to them so they would do the same to us.

Coach Confronting Athlete

3. Choices—Teenagers want to think they have everything figured out and they could do every single decision by themselves. If we do most of the things for them, they would feel like we’re imposing too much. What we could do is lay out options for them, and let them choose for themselves. It would make them feel better and think that they have control of their decisions.

If we’re too worried about what they might choose, we could help them by discussing the possible implications of a certain choice, or have them write the pros and cons for a useful activity on self-reflection.

4. Ourselves—When working too hard on figuring out how we could deal with our teen athletes, it is easy to forget about ourselves. We must think of how we’re acting as much as we think how our kids are acting. We must not try too hard that we lose our sense of humor, we try too hard to speak teen jargon, or telling them about how things are when we were teenagers. If they say, “you don’t understand,” we might not really understand. Our time then is different from their time now. We just have to be ourselves and don’t try too hard that we unconsciously change.

Listed her are just few of the things we have to know when working with teenage athletes, to know more, visit our official Facebook Page. Experience a fun and exciting gymnastics training. Enroll today at Bianka Panova Sport and Art Academy and learn gymnastics for kids with us.

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