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7 strategies to get more out of your young performers


Working with young performers can be difficult at times. Short attention spans are the biggest culprit that often makes communicating to them a challenging task. This article equips you with techniques and strategies to improve the coaching of the young performers. If you're the parent of a young perfomer 'Mindsport's parental guidelines for young performers maybe a beneficial read.'

State is everything – The fun factor

If young performers are not enjoying their learning experience it is very unlikely that they will retain and apply the information that you have taught them.

It is therefore very important that you take the time to build a learning environment that is stimulating, enjoyable, interactive and as fun as possible. Without these key ingredients in place learning becomes a dull and laborious procedure for everyone that is involved with it.

Here are a few ideas to ensure your young performers are in a resourceful and a productive state to learn:

  • Play music during appropriate times during the learning procedure
  • Introduce humour
  • Involve practical demonstrations, and allow the young performers to participate.

The famous life coach Anthony Robbins sums up the importance of getting your audience into a productive learning state before anything is taught:

‘There is no such thing as a stupid people, just stupid states’ Robbins

Be selective

Young performers are notorious for having a limited attention span. The best way to tackle this is to be economical with the amount of information you communicate to them. Giving young performers too much information increases the likelihood that they will switch off and end up retaining very little.


  • Chunk down information down into bite sized pieces when you are communicating with young athletes. By breaking down techniques and advice into manageable components young performers are more likely to remain focused and attentive.
  • Learning styles

    Everyone has a preferred learning style. The 3 main learning styles are through the use of images (visual), sounds/words (auditory) and feelings (kinaesthetic).

    If the young performer prefers using images in order to learn they will often display the following characteristics:

    • Their eyes movements look upwards, indicating that visual representations are being generated during the learning process.
    • Their use of vocabulary regularly alludes to the visual sense. Phrases like the ones below are characteristic of someone that is driven by the visual channel:

    ‘Do you see what I mean’

    ‘Do you get the picture’

    ‘I have to look for the answers’

    ‘Can you look at what I am doing’

    Visual words: ‘see’ ‘look’ ‘picture’

    • They will look more attentive and interested when you use demonstrations, handouts, flip charts, videos, film, etc.

    If your young performer prefers listening to material during the learning process, you will notice the following characteristics in their behaviour:

    • Their eye movements will predominantly cue in left and right directions during the learning process.
    • Their use of vocabulary regularly alludes to the auditory sense. Phrases like the ones below are characteristic of someone that is driven by the auditory sense:

    “I hear what you are saying’

    “Sounds like fun”

    “I can’t understand what you are saying”

    “I enjoy listening to you”

    Auditory words: ‘hear’, ‘sounds’, ‘saying’, ‘listening’

    • They will look more attentive and interested in the spoken parts of the material. They will be highly receptive to question and answer sessions.

    If your young performer prefers learning through the kinaesthetic (touch/physical sensations) sense, some of their typical characteristics are as follows:

    • Their eye movements will predominantly cue in a downwards direction during the learning process
    • They will use feeling based vocabulary as noted below:

    “I will hold onto what you have taught me”

    “I don’t get it”

    “I don’t feel like this will help me”

    “This is really hard”

    Kinaesthetic words: ‘Feel’, ‘hold’, ‘hard’, ‘get’

    • They will be more attentive and receptive to learning that uses physical practice and rehearsal. Kinaesthetic based individuals learn by doing and they may want to be overly active during the learning process. It is important to note that if the young performer keeps moving around during the learning process it does not necessarily mean they are not listening. More likely it is an overt expression of their preferred learning style.

    If you are teaching young performers it is important to assimilate the above information and build a learning environment that suits your student’s learning styles.

    Onto Part Two

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