A university is just a group of buildings gathered around a library. ~Shelby Foote

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Cat Herding 101

One of the hardest parts of coaching 5-7 year-olds is finding a frame of reference they can understand. Whilst trying to teach them to throw I have discovered that the phrase "snap your wrist at the end" means absolutely nothing to them. "Snap your wrist? I can't even snap my fingers yet and he wants me to snap my wrist?"

"Throw off your left leg."

"Which leg is my left one, coach? Oh, okay. How do I throw off of it, coach?"

There's a lot of demonstrating, less verbiage.

It's actually a really useful lesson in rethinking how I express myself to others. I'm a very linguistic/verbal person-- I trust in my rhetoric and my wit to get me through things. But that doesn't always work-- not everyone is a linguistic/verbal learner.

It's also been quite an experience in grabbing, and maintaining, attention. 7 year-olds aren't too bad, they've been in school for a year or two, so they are a bit used to listening to an authoritative adult voice, but the 5 year-olds. Whoof.

Flip side, they remind me not to take things too seriously. Last week I was trying to explain the proper way to field a ball and one of the kids kept staring up into the sky. I couldn't figure out why.

So, I looked up. And right there above my head were these pure white contrails against this brilliant blue sky. It was lovely. So, the whole team took ten or fifteen seconds to look up and absorb the wonder of it all, and then we got back to learning how to get our gloves down to block the ball, rather than trying to trap the ball like a bug.

And the thrill that I get when they GET it, whether it is throwing, catching, hitting or something else altogether is one of the most rewarding things I've experienced in my life. Just watching them put it all together and come out the other side with a big smile on their face is absolutely fabulous.

It is also excellent practice in not losing your patience.

I recommend it most highly.

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Herd away, Nick. Lovely post.
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