When working with any athlete population, it is important for coaches to ask athletes to perform technical skills (fundamentals) and tactical skills (game or event strategies) that are developmentally appropriate relative to athletes’ physical and intellectual capabilities. Introducing skills that are too advanced for athletes’ capabilities can lead to unsafe sport environments and frustration. For instance, it would be inappropriate for a soccer coach working with 6-year-olds to ask her athletes to practice slide tackles, because the physical and intellectual processing skills required to successfully perform slide tackles are not yet present in 6-year-olds. Conversely, asking athletes to perform skills that are not challenging and do not promote skill development can lead to boredom and regression of skill level. A challenge faced by every sport coach is to identify technical and tactical skills that are developmentally appropriate and present a motivating (versus frustrating) challenge for athletes. In addition, coaches may notice that an athlete’s chronological age may not always align with his or her developmental age and/or maturity level, but it’s important to note that developmental age does not affect athletic ability or potential. Taking these respective “ages” into consideration can help a coach identify techniques and game or event strategies that are appropriate for athletes to perform.

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