Want to help your kid learn martial arts? Follow these basic rules of coaching to spend time with your kids, improve their skill, and earn their respect. Everyone will enjoy it.
Positive Reinforcement – How to Use the Sandwich Technique
Dragon Family Martial Arts Center believes only in positive reinforcement. It is the milestone towards confidence building. The “sandwich technique” uses two complementary phrases around your chosen correction.
Example: Johnny is practicing his hook kick. “Good job keeping your back foot flat instead of raising on your toes. But your kick was shallow. I need you to kick 2 more inches past the pad. You are doing great keeping your balance with foot planted. Lets try that again, Johnny.”
Your child doesn’t dwell on the mistake. Instead you’ve boosted his confidence to let him know he has done something right. Now, you have given him/her a chance to do better and they will reach for it. A reasonable goal is set and he tries the kick again.
When the goal is accomplished your child deserves a high five or some other form of praise.
Note: Learn to see the pattern of self-correction. It is very common for a child, or even an adult, to be aware of his mistake but have trouble physically correcting it. It takes 6-8 weeks to develop neuron-muscular changes. Keep that in mind so you can distinguish that a pattern similar to 2 corrected moves and 3-6 uncorrected attempts is progress, as long as another correction is reached with 10 tries. If it is not reached by 10 it’s time to try something else. Continue reading to find out more.
Correct One Problem At A Time
Information overload is real easy to hit, especially for beginners. Too much stimulus can take a person out of their learning comfort zone. Each person has their own learning zone that requires some amount of pressure or stimuli. If you let your child get too frustrated than you can loose their confidence and they joy in training. Teaching perseverance comes into play as well. Let them know it okay to fail as long as we keep trying.
When several corrections are needed choose the most important. It usually boils down to polishing basics. If you don’t have a solid foundation than the end results won’t be their best. When the correction can be completed move on to the next problem. If you hit the next correction and see the first correct collapse than you’ve reach the breaking point. Go ahead and revert back a step. If corrections can’t be accomplished you may spend the whole hour on a single technique. See “Break It Down” for more details.
Note: Some pressure is healthy but look out for your child getting frustrated. Our teachers have to learn each child’s reactions to pressure. You have the advantage of knowing your child’s type of reactions to much pressure or type of stimuli giving you the advantage of changing direction before breaking his/her confidence.
Break It Down
We are not talking about Sifu Byran’s dancing days :). When a correction can’t be met its time to break it down into smaller parts. This is an opportunity to use your creativity. Techniques take whole body involvement giving you plenty to work with. It may seem that you practice the same technique for an hour but if you can be creative enough your kids won’t notice. Our teachers use specific drills that may seem like games with cute names but they have hidden skill development. We may also call it a progressive drill building on each step to reach the final goal.
Tip: Doing the technique yourself helps you feel how to break down the steps so you can better verbalize what you need your child to do.
Example: Hook to the head
We recommend focus to begin at the feet. Footwork is what moves your punch where it needs to be.
“Back heal slams to the ground at the same time your front heal raises and turns, twisting the front knee inwards, like Elvis Presley. Than whip back into ready stance.” This creates the much needed hip turn instead of muscling the strike.
“Next step, open your palm and let only your body move your hand.” Explaining hip action is more difficult for younger kids to understand. Holding a hand out gives them a visible cue to their foot work causing hip action.
This drill focuses on including the hip instead of arm strength that our brains focus on to to accomplish powerful strikes. It can be hard to ask kids to relax and not muscle the work. By removing the arm in the equation we get them to learn body mechanics to take power to the next level. Once the body starts moving right than you can ad more steps and details.
End on a Positive Note, Give Them a Finisher
A child or anybody will dwell on the last thing in class. So it’s important to leave them feeling great. Do that by giving them a challenge that you know they can accomplish. Not necessary easy. Sometimes it can something new to make it more exciting. Or a challenge of doing a perfect combo to show off their day’s accomplishment. This makes the hard training worth while and will keep them psyched to come back for more.
Article by Tina J. Richard
Get hands on training by attending one of Tina’s Coaching 101 courses only at Dragon Family Martial Arts Center.