Whether you are a youth coach who wants his team to practice hard, develop skills and become better players, or a parent looking to get his/her children physically fit and interested in sports- the following easy ways to make sports practice fun for kids will surely help you.
1. Keep sports drills fast paced
Kids have very short attention spans. If you are having slow drills, they might lose focus and get distracted. So do not keep them waiting around. Keep them moving at all times. Avoid having lines so that the entire group is doing the same or similar drill at once. If needed, divide the kids in groups so they can efficiently move from drill to drill. This is one of the easy ways to make sports practice and drills fun and interesting for kids.
2. Appreciate success
Parents and coaches must also appreciate achievements, no matter how small, from time to time. Failure to do this means setting up your young player/s up for a huge disappointment. No one wants to feel “I am no good at this”. In fact, coaches must make the effort to encourage slower kids by setting them up for achievements. This is one of the easy ways to get all kids serious about sports and sports drills. There should be emphasis and reward for efforts rather than for the outcome of the game.
3. Use order and discipline
Success won’t come to the team if there is no order and discipline. Discipline can help ensure that the practice runs smoothly and that the coach/parents/organizers are serious about it. Doing so will enable kids to feel motivated about the sport-whether it is soccer, basketball etc. Coaches must also give every child an opportunity to learn and grow- even if it means making mistakes in the beginning.
4. Enhance productivity through attention-grabbing techniques
Coaches must ask questions and listen to the kids’ answers to ensure that all participants have understood the rules/techniques. Before speaking, one must ensure making eye contact with the kids. Use simple language and avoid giving too much information all at once. Parents must allow the coach to do his/her job instead of interfering. Parents and coaches must also consider the age group of the kids and encourage kids to say it out if they have not understood a particular part of the coaching. Short commands like “Go”, “Come”, “stop” etc are ideal for clarity and grabbing attention.
5. Structure things right
The sports drill should be structured in an appropriate manner such as having timely breaks, timing of the drills, breaking monotony and also ensuring that the drill flows smoothly. This is one of the easy ways to make sports practice fun for kids.
6. Dos and don’ts for sport parents
These easy ways to make sports fun and interesting for kids also include educating the parents first. Following dos and don’ts list for sports parents can come in handy:
- Don’t show your unhappiness as this can lead the child to feel guilt over his/her performance
- Do volunteer and show interest-this is an important way to get your kid interested in sports
- Do make friends with other parents and try to cooperate and help the coach as much as possible.
- Do communicate with the coach about the child’s performance from time to time.
- Do provide guidance and advice but don’t force or pressurize the child
- Do take an interest in their participation-encourage them to ask questions, get them to practice on time and make sure they participate in competitions if they like.
- Do rebuke the child for unacceptable behavior during practice
- Finally, don’t do anything that will cause them to think less of them or you.
7. Stay positive and upbeat
This is important advice for kids, parents and coaches and one of the easy ways to make sports fun for everyone. Mood can be contagious- so make sure you smile. If you are down, it will reflect in your attitude and, in turn, bring your kids down as well.
8. Keep it fun
Be it any sport-drills must constitute at least 75% of the practice. So coaches must make them fast paced and fun using following tips:
- Plan ahead-prepare in order to have a well thought out practice plan.
- Transition between drills quickly. Do not sit thinking what to do between drills
- Dribbling between cones, chairs are fun and fast paced-kids love them.
- Ideas for drills that always work are: jump rope, one on one dribbling, partner passing, lay up drills, figure of 8 drills and so on.
- Arrange mini games to enhance skills.
- Keep everyone busy-no lines!
- If needed, get help from assistant coaches or parent volunteers to set up the drills.
We hope this brief guide on easy ways to make sports practice fun for kids will help volunteers, coaches and parents alike no matter how (in) experienced they may be in this field.