the death of rote learning in youth sports: an action plan

Nabil Murad
2 min readMar 9


One of the main challenges of coaching youth sports is finding the balance between teaching fundamental skills and keeping players engaged and motivated.

Unfortunately, too many coaches default to rote learning, which involves the repetition of drills and activities without much variation. While this method may produce immediate results, it has long-term limitations.

Here are five alternative strategies that can coaches can use instantly

Small Sided Games (SSG)

SSG provide opportunities for players to engage in game-like situations, improving their decision-making abilities.

Small teams increase the number of opportunities that players get, which leads to more efficient skill development.

Research by Memmert, Lemmink, and Sampaio (2017) found that SSG improved technical and decision-making skills in young soccer players.

Differentiated Learning (DL)

This method of teaching acknowledges that individuals have different needs.

By tailoring instruction to individuals, coaches can create an engaging learning experience. DL involves varying difficulty levels, incorporating visual aids, or providing alternative instructions.

Differentiated Learning leads to improved learning outcomes and increased motivation among students (Pino-Pasternak & Whitebread, 2010)

Teaching Games for Understanding (TGfU)

This method focuses on teaching games rather than breaking them down.

Through emphasising the understanding of game concepts, players develop skills with a more meaningful context.

Griffin and Butler (2005) found that TGfU led to improved decision-making abilities and tactical understanding in young basketball players.

There’s More. . .

Coaches around the world are already integrating these three strategies into their practices. But they’re just the beginning.

Tune in tomorrow for two more strategies, and see how you can increase engagement and improve learning opportunities for your players.



Nabil Murad

Full time professional youth basketball with an avid interest in meta-learning. Passionate about youth development, behavioural psychology and storytelling