When I first started EMA, I incorporate multiple ages in each of my sessions to develop players holistically and prepare them for life.
We believe that real leaders should not be measured by the number of followers they have, but by the number of leaders they help nurture.
With that said, this is why we will continue to have sessions with student-athletes of different ages and genders. Student-athletes have more to learn from students who differ from themselves in age and ability, than from those who are at their same age level. Because of this, mixed-age training benefits both younger and older students.
It benefits all
This type of training environment benefits the older students just as much as it does the younger ones. Interactions with younger children allow older children to practice patience and develop necessary leadership skills. We have seen older students in mixed-age sessions express more kindness and empathy towards younger students. They may even be more sympathetic not just to the younger students, but also to their peers and themselves.
Our younger students learn from the older ones even when they are not interacting with them. From observing, children obtain not just information, but also powerful motivation. Children aren’t particularly interested in mimicking their trainers or adults because they are too far ahead of them in ability. For example, an 8-year-old would rather work to keep up with a 10 -year-old than someone well beyond their years.
My leadership and skills for training, mentoring and educating were developed mainly because I was constantly a part of mixed-age sessions as one of the oldest. I embraced it more and more each time because these sessions allowed me to learn through teaching. I developed my composure, attentiveness, and welcomed the fact that younger student-athletes looked up to me, and because of this, I developed an even stronger work ethic.
Where does leadership come from
Leadership is something that must be developed from within. Most children only want to be in the younger role, but to me, being in the teaching role could be more beneficial. In order for both to benefit, a culture (which is most important) in the training program has to be developed. Here at EMA, o staff and I continue to create an environment in which both our younger and older student-athletes remain motivated and continue to evolve.
“Enthusiasm is the baking powder to life. Without it, you are flat, with it, you rise!”