Improving Aggressiveness in Youth Athletes

“My child doesn’t show enough aggressiveness.” I hear those words weekly from parents who are confused about why other kids seem to be “tougher” than theirs.

 Although children occasionally may truly be less forceful in nature, nine times out of 10, kids hold back because they lack confidence in sport-specific skills. For instance, if your child is extremely good at baseball but seems disinterested in football, he just might not have the skill set to actually showcase his aggressiveness.

Teach your child the game, very thoroughly

Young basketball players know that a layup is worth 2 points. But do they know that each team is given three timeouts? Do they know they don’t need to shoot a 3-pointer if their team is up by 2 points with 20 seconds left? Do they know how to box out? Just knowing the game can dramatically help their confidence.

 Work extremely hard on skills

How can you take the ball to the hoop aggressively if you can’t dribble? You can’t. Skill work seems to be a lost art in today’s young athletic world. You rarely see kids drilling in their driveways because of all of their scheduled AAU time and training with basketball trainers. Playing AAU and working with a private coach are great, but there still needs to be an emphasis on the basics at home. It might be dribbling 500 times with each hand every night—or for baseball, throwing a rubber ball off a brick wall and working on hand-eye coordination. Working on basic sport-specific skills can boost confidence immediately.

Work on developing strength and speed

This is an issue I observe almost daily. As kids get stronger, they become more confident. It’s as simple as that. As they get better at drills and know how much work they’re putting in to get better, they play noticeably harder. What does an athlete have to lose if he puts no time in during the off-season? Nothing. Athletes who put the time in will most certainly take pride in their games, which will really ignite their aggressiveness.

 Be positive

It’s very easy to tell a kid who’s twice as big as everyone else on a football field to “go out there and knock their head off.” But it’s important to stay as positive as possible and reinforce good habits, not bad ones.


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