Recommendations for MMA coaches working with pre-school, primary school and young beginners
Introduction to a sport can be the first step in a lifetime journey when managed successfully, or a disappointing experience ending in the person dropping out. It is the Club coach who is in the front line of getting it right.
One of the biggest challenges when working with any beginners is the vast variety of their general physical conditions, as they are coming from all walks of life and all ages. They may differ dramatically in their movement experience and have different level of confidence in the execution of the basic motor skills. Therefore, a coach working with beginners, firstly, should focus on the fundamental and general skills. Secondly, he/she should aim at elevating of all the beginners in a class to an appropriate level. This consideration is critical for the sport of MMA, since most of the drills and exercises require work with a cooperative partner.
We see more and more people encouraging their children to try out sport at early ages. Physical activity is one of the most important parts of a child’s health, well-being and learning and therefore, physical exercise is one of the ways in which young children interact with the world as they grow. Children’s growth, physical and emotional development undergo several phases, each of requiring a meticulous choice of teaching methodology and specific sets of exercises. Therefore, it is mandatory that all coaches useage-appropriate physical activities when teaching novices of different ages.
It is common for many sports clubs to have classes of mixed ages, however a big age difference (2 years+) is not recommended, particularly when young novices are participating in the class. When pairing up young beginners for joint exercises we need to consider the possible huge mismatch in their physical levels, as they could be early developers (ED) and late developers (LD)
The recommended age groups for classes of beginners are outlined below.
Age specific recommendations for running MMA classes for novices
NOVICES AGES 2 – 5
- Children of pre-school age continue to learn various basic and multilateral movements (running, tumbling, throwing, catching, etc.) and the most effective learning form for them is unstructured free- play. They are too young for organised sport, and it is unlikely that they will gain any long-term advantage in terms of future sports performance if they are exposed to the strict regulations of adult sport. It is advised that children of pre-school age do not join general MMA classes, unless they are specifically tailored for their age group and focused on general physical development with the inclusion of some elements of mixed martial arts.
- Competitions for children aged 2 to 5 are not recommended, unless they are organised as a technical display
- The minimum coaching qualification required to run such classes are IMMAF COACH LEVEL 2 and IMMAF YOUTH COACH (coming soon)
NOVICES AGES 6 – 9
- Children of ages 6 to 9 continue to develop all forms of coordination, learn complex movements, including changing direction, pivoting and turning. As their attention increases, they are able to focus on more complex tasks for longer. Between 6 and 9 are the best ages for the introduction of most martial arts to children. The main focus should be on the learning of the biomechanically correct technique and fundamental movements.
- Children of the ages 7 to 8 could be gradually introduced to the basic strength
- Competitions for children of ages 6 to 9 are not recommended, except for technical displays, with awards for participation and recognition of an effort and attitude. It is advised that the WHITE grade (wristband) is awarded as soon as the novices are able to display the set of Fundamental movements (See Progression Scheme).
- Children of ages 8 to 9 shall advance through the Progression scheme, within the minimum time of one grade every 12 months, reaching the maximum of YELLOW grade.
- The minimum coaching qualification required to run beginners classes for this age group are IMMAF COACH LEVEL 2 and/or IMMAF YOUTH COACH (coming soon)
NOVICES AGES 10 – 12 (YOUTH C)
- Children of ages 10 to 12 have a mature understanding of physical movements and good ability to follow the tactics and strategies of almost any sport.
- Technical development remains the prime consideration, while gradual introduction of children to speed, strength and appropriate endurance training is continued.
- Children of ages 10 to 12 shall progress through the Grading Scheme, within the minimum time of one grade every 12 months, reaching their first competition as a Youth – C at “ORANGE Grade.”
- Children age 10-12 can be gradually introduced to MMA competitions under the modified rules, which nullify domination by strength through the application of technical restrictions. (See IMMAF guidelines for Youth Championships)
- The minimum coaching qualifications required to run beginners classes for this age group are IMMAF COACH LEVEL 2 and/or IMMAF YOUTH COACH (coming soon)
NOVICES AGES 13 – 14 (YOUTH C/B)
- Young people of ages 13 to 14 have a mature understanding of the physical movements and good ability to follow the tactics and strategies of the sport, however the growth spurt caused by the puberty may affect their balance and coordination
- Young people of ages 13 to 14 shall progress through the Grading Scheme, within the minimum time of one grade every 9 months, reaching their first competition as Youth – B in the “GREEN Grade”
- Young people of ages 13 to 14 can participate in MMA competitions under modified rules, which shall continue to nullify domination by strength through the application of technical restrictions. (See IMMAF guidelines for events for
- Cadets and Youth)
- Children aged 13 to 14 will need to show a good balance of technical and physical development
- The minimum coaching qualification required to run such classes is IMMAF COACH LEVEL 1
NOVICES AGES 16+
- Novices at 16+ can join the mainsteam adult classes
- Novices of 16+ shall advance through the Progression Scheme, within the minimum time of one grade every 6 months (See Progression Scheme)
- The minimum technical standard of anyone willing to start competing in Amateur Youth events (U18s) shall be at minimum of ORANGE Grade (cadets) and for a senior event (18+), GREEN Grade
- The minimum coaching qualification required to run the beginners classes for adults is IMMAF COACH LEVEL 1