All coaches know that playing competitive sport requires a solid commitment from athletes in order to ensure skills development and game-speed performance improvement. But it can be easy to focus on teaching young ones to put their head down and work hard, and forget that they’re still kids who also benefit from having fun. In fact, most learning actually stops when kids stop having fun!
One vital thing to keep in mind when considering your approach to training is that kids engagement in learning new skills increases when they think it is fun. It’s easy to think that skill development means hard work, not fun, but the opposite is actually true. When you motivate your players with fun, their skill development will increase because they will find themselves more interested in the sport and more excited to see themselves grow.
Having fun increases interest and engagement
A sure-fire way to keep kids interested in something is to make it fun. This is especially true for sports! Turning practice into a chore is a quick way to push them to start wanting to avoid attending which will cause their skill progression to slide.
Keep their interest by incorporating fun into each practice. Whether you include a mini game at the end to put their new skills to the test, set up some lighthearted competition between teammates or even just choose some drills that are more fun than others.
You’ll see players become more engaged with the practice and their skill development when they are having fun.
Want them to show up consistently? Make practice fun!
Kids generally face a fair amount of stress and anxiety throughout the school year. Pressures to turn in assignments on time and do their homework nightly can have them wanting to avoid adding an activity that places more stress and pressure on them. To combat these feelings, incorporate some fun into practices! When they look forward to being able to let loose a bit and have some fun after a long day in the classroom, they are much more likely to show up consistently and on time.
IBSA delivers basketball training to youth athletes grouped by age and skill levels. Our trainers recognize that a tailored approach to teaching is required to ensure the young ones are learning, working hard, but also having fun!
Hard work and skill development don’t have to mean no fun!
We all know that learning and mastering new skills requires practice, and that sometimes kids don’t really feel like putting in the practice time. Do you want to encourage them to keep at it and not give up? Make practice fun! There’s no reason that practice time has to be all serious, all the time. Kids who are having fun at practice are going to be more likely to look forward to showing up and more willing to put their head down and work hard when they need to.
Finding the right balance between getting serious and working hard, and having some fun can be difficult but as long as you’re incorporating some fun into each practice you are giving kids motivation to stick with it.
Things to watch for to make sure players are having fun and not feeling stressed out:
– Smiling while playing and practicing
– Engaging with their teammates
– Open to feedback from coaches, and using that feedback to improve their game
– Showing up to practice on time and not missing any
– Not slacking off during practices
– They are alert and engaged while on the court and off
Training competitive youth athletes should incorporate fun for maximum benefit
Practices don’t have to be all fun because kids do benefit from learning how to buckle down, focus and work hard. But easing out of those more serious drills with something that allows them to feel like they are having fun is the perfect way to push kids to want to continue developing their skills so they can become the best player they can be.