Focus on a player's ability - Discover what your player can do rather than focusing on what he/she can't do. If you are unsure, ask them to tell you their capabilities, skills, interests and goals and then work together to plan challenging and engaging sessions that are geared to the person's needs.
Be ready to adapt - Possible adaptations include changing up your teaching style (more demonstrations, less verbal instruction), rules, equipment and environment (quieter may mean less distractions).
Communicate effectively - When providing directions, gain eye contact with your player(s), keep explanations concise and re-state if necessary. When providing demonstrations, break down specific drills one step at a time and build up slowly.
Set the stage for success - Some athletes with "invisible" disabilities may be aware of their difficulties and be anxious about situations that are unfamiliar, unknown, or perceived as difficult. To lessen anxiety, try providing an overview of the practice activities and the order in which they will occur. Routines also provide structure and predictability which can allow a stressed player to relax and become more engaged.
Promote social acceptance - Sometimes it can be challenging for players with "invisible" disabilities to have positive social interactions with others. A coach can address this by calming insisting that everyone follows the rules, takes turns and in general have players be aware of others. Organized sport can be a great platform for youth to develop social skills without negative consequences like teasing or ridicule; therefore, it's important to be sure to provide positive feedback and lots of support.
Coaches can encourage participation in sport for a person with a hidden disability by taking a pro-active approach, not worrying about making the occasional mistake and reminding themselves that every player just wants to be respected and valued.References from the SIRC Collection:
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2. Beyer R, Flores M, Vargas-Tonsing T. Strategies and Methods for Coaching Athletes with Invisible Disabilities in Youth Sport Activities. Journal Of Youth Sports. June 2009;4(2):10-15.
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