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Sports Backers Blog

Great Coaches Support Great Kids

Written by: Coach Jenika dela Cruz

This past fall season was my first as a volunteer Kids Run RVA run club coach at John B. Cary (Cougars on the Run). I knew the importance of teaching kids healthy habits early on in their lives, and I wanted to become a part of that effort. But there was this voice inside my head full of doubt, that I didn’t have what it took to be a great mentor to these kids.

I soon realized that I wasn’t the only one that felt this way. To my surprise, many volunteer coaches come to Sports Backers with little to no experience. We do all share one thing in common, which is the passion and drive to make an impact on the lives of these little munchkins! With the support of my fellow coaches that I had the chance to connect with during the Coaches’ Clinic and Fall Season Kickoff, my first season with Kids Run RVA was a success! Kids Run RVA offers great support to every coach, and if you’re interested in making a positive impact in the lives of kids through physical activity, you can apply to become a coach in 2020. Applications are now open, so click here to apply!

I realized that an important role for any coach, as well as one of our greatest obstacles, is to help the children find their motivation for wanting to continue to enjoy physical activity for a lifetime. Running doesn’t stop when we’re off-season! So to any aspiring/current coaches, I wanted to share a few bits of knowledge about motivation in children, to help guide you through your journey with Kids Run RVA:

  • One huge motivation for kids to join a run club is to have the opportunity to hang out with their friends. Provide them with a fun and safe environment to make running a social experience.
  • Get to know your kids as individuals, and explore each of their unique motivators. What works for one child may not work for another, so watch for their reactions towards certain types of rewards and modify your actions to help develop different motivational strategies.
  • Explain the “why.” Not all kids understand how running can be beneficial to them, so make sure you explain the benefits in a way that they can appreciate and understand – (e.g. it’s easily accessible, helps to improve memory and cardiovascular function, gives us a boost of energy).
  • If our children run simply because they get enjoyment from it, then great! This is called intrinsic motivation. The goal is to guide our coaching in a way that fosters these behaviors, to ensure enjoyment of the activity itself, rather than the extrinsic motivators they can get from it. When using extrinsic motivators such as prizes, try to keep it simple! By doing so, your kids will be more focused on the run rather the prize, allowing them to discover all the great things that running has to offer.

It was extremely heartwarming to watch my run club unfold this season, and to see how an amateur coach such as myself, had the capability to ignite a fire within my little runners. There is definitely a learning curve to coaching, but Kids Run RVA supports great coaches, so that they can support great kids. Are you ready to jump in? We will be holding our new coaches’ clinic on Wednesday, January 15th, 2020. Applications are now open – click here to apply! If I can do it, you can too!