This course is broken down into Five Sections, with subsections to better hone in on what you think your team needs at a given point of the season.
Section One: Interrupt
Wake up the athlete and set the mood.
Your athlete has likely been at school all day and is exhausted. You remember what it was like to be in school. Teachers and classes that you may not like, relationship with friends and boyfriend/girlfriend stuff, family issues…these are all things can emotionally and physically drain an athlete that is now expected to leave all that in the locker room and be able to focus on practice and competitions. These activities give athletes the opportunity to interrupt the monotony of their school day and get them excited to perform. Some are silly, and some allow the athlete to get loud and wake up something inside them that was dormant all day long.
Subcategories: Organize, Fun, Eliminate, Improv
Section Two: Talk
Bond with Teammates through Life Experiences
Who is the teammate next to me? Why should I work hard for them? What do I have in common with them? Whether you are a seasoned coach or you just bought your first whistle on the way to your first practice, getting to know your athletes and allowing your athletes to get to know each other should be a very high priority. You don’t want to rush these experiences. As a coach, spending an extra 5, 10, or 15 minutes learning about your athletes will serve you better later in terms of influence and motivation than a few sacrificed practice drills that day. And for your athletes, knowing a bit of the background of their teammates can help them understand why they are the way they are and will increase the chemistry of the team.
Subcategories: Reflection, Team Building
Section Three: Grow
Overcome Obstacles and Learn to Communicate
Athletics provides a fantastic vehicle to teach how to deal with adversity, pressure, disappointment, happiness, hope, belief, and the importance of accountability. By removing the sport and focusing in on a specific trait (communication, accountability, leadership, etc.), we can allow the athlete to work with their teammates to overcome and then translate that experience to the sport. Creating these anchors of victory is a useful tool when in the middle of a trying situation during a competition to refer back to and say something like, “Remember when you worked together to create that Lion King scene? Let’s get back to that mindset and figure this out.”
Subcategories: Communication, Teamwork
Section Four: Entertain
Create Inside Jokes and Make Practice Fun
When I think back to the many teams I have been a part of as an athlete or coach, the memories usually go to the funny things that happened that season. Inside jokes bond a team and diffuse tense situations. Practice is for improvement and learning, but it is also a place many athletes use to get away from the drama of their non-sport” world. A few minutes to be silly and enjoy each other does wonders for the chemistry and culture of a team.
Subcategories: Competition, Creativity
Section Five: Hype
Increase the Intensity Level and Get Loud
To be able to create intentional intensity is a skill every coach wishes they had when their team is in a funk for some reason or another. Can you get your squad hyped-up and excited with a speech? Maybe, but eventually, the influence of a speech dies down. Use these activities to increase the heart rate quickly while also providing an opportunity to make the athlete feel loose because they are having fun and bonding with their teammates. Associate a high heart rate with having fun to create an athlete who feels free and ready to perform at an increased level. You’ll never think of rock, paper, scissors the same!
Subcategories: Reaction, Game
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