WYC 064 – Martial Arts World Champion – Melody Shuman talks Developmental Stages by Age

What does it take to be a winning youth coach? Listen in as Melody Shuman shares stories and discusses her journey to becoming a successful youth sports coach.

Melody Shuman is a martial arts world champion. She started and ran a successful chain of martial arts schools, then re-invented her entire business and has created a booming business teaching martial arts, and teaching others how to start their own schools.

Website: skillzconnect.com; Coming soon: skillzworldwide.com

Facebook: /MelodyShumanPage

Twitter: @mastermelody

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‘Have every student become a better version of themselves’ – Melody Shuman

The evolution of martial art schools

  • Most martial art programs were developed for adult males. Melody has studied teaching and designed her schools to teach males and females at the appropriate age level.

Teaching Children & Keeping it Fun


  • Identify 7 or 8 skills appropriate for their age:
    • Pre-schoolers – Kicking, punching, blocking, crawling, hopping, running, catching
    • Kindergarten/1st-grade: Focus, teamwork, control their body, memory, balance, discipline, fitness, coordination
  • Then focus on one of these in each practice.  Then they have a test at the end of the practice, and if they pass they get their ‘stripe’ for that skill. To earn

Self-Confidence and teaching kids to achieve peak performance


  • Creating age-appropriate challenges is the key
  • Goldilocks concept – Not too hot, not too cold.  Create just the right level of challenge that is a slight challenge, but attainable.
  • Catch kids having a great attitude during practices – and prop them up and let them know that that attitude is great and what is going to make him/her succeed

Culture – Discipline/Rewards/Teambuilding

  • #1 rule – Mutual respect amongst students/teachers and each other
  • Our goal: ‘Have every student become a better version of themselves’

Connecting with and Impacting Kids

  • One kid Melody coached would get nervous and cry when in pressure situations.  Melody and her team kept supporting him, and it slowly got better and better over time.  Melody emphasized: ‘You’re measured best by how you carry yourself under pressure.’  When this boy took his first black-belt test – he was the first student she ever had achieve a perfect score.  He has gone on to win national level competitions.

The One that Got Away

  • Melody was competing in nationals as a 21 year-old.  She made it to the championship round, and they went to extra-time. Melody got cocky and spit out her mouthpiece – her competitor knocked out 2 of her teeth and chipped 5 others.

Best Stolen Idea

  • Vince Lombardi: ‘The greatest accomplishment is not in never failing but in rising again after falling’

Skillz Connect

  • Website: skillzconnect.com
  • They license out the children’s curriculums they have created.  1,000’s of drills, planners
  • Currently martial arts, they are expanding to other sports and will soon launch at skillzworldwide.com

Parting Advice

  • Focus on the athlete’s mind.  When creating drills – make them age appropriate and make them competitive and fun.
  • Recommended reading: The Whole-Brain Child by Daniel Siegel

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