As the season wears on, you may start to notice a change in your athletes. They’re becoming frustrated, disengaged, and maybe even getting a little burned out of their sport. You need to capture their attention and motivate them again. I know what you’re thinking- you don’t need them to have fun, you need them to focus and work hard. Consider for a few minutes that fun might not be the opposite of focus. Having fun at practice won’t necessarily distract your team from what they’re doing, and it might be the motivation they need to keep training. Here are a few tips to making your practice more enjoyable for your players.
Minimize Down Time
It wouldn’t surprise anybody to hear that standing around waiting is a pretty boring way to spend an afternoon. Try to choose drills that keep everyone involved, and make sure to transition quickly between activities.
Anything that involves standing in line waiting for your turn should be kept to a minimum. If you are planning on using a drill that requires some wait time, consider adding in some “busy work” activities, like jumping rope or passing the ball with a partner, to keep everyone moving and engaged.
Mix Things Up
If you run your practice exactly the same way day in and day out, the routine can get a little stale. Mixing things up throughout the season can help keep your team engaged instead of just going through the motions. Introducing new drills periodically and utilizing multifaceted drills will keep players more focused on the task and make it more enjoyable.
Listen To Your Players
Your players probably have some drills that they really enjoy, and some that they really hate. Listen to your athletes to find out what those are. You don’t have to cut every drill they don’t like, and some of them are definitely going to be necessary, but try and take their favorites into consideration when planning your practice. Little things like ending the practice on a high note can do wonders for morale on the team.
Have Fun Yourself!
Happiness is contagious! Unfortunately, frustration, disengagement, anger, and other emotions are just as easily spread to the people around you. As a coach, you have the opportunity to set the mood for every practice session. If you’re in a good mood and your players see just how much you enjoy what you’re doing, they’ll be happier themselves and have more fun while they’re at practice.