Are you winning the boredom battle with YOUR practices?
By Greg Bach
Running practices that constantly challenge, entertain and motivate young athletes is oh-so important for triggering skill development.
And keeping players engaged and excited to be involved.
If boredom sneaks into practices, and players dread coming, the season grinds to a standstill.
“There are a lot of factors when you are talking about practice and players having enthusiasm for practice and I think probably the No. 1 thing is creativity and not allowing boredom to set in,” says Eric Musselman, the head men’s basketball coach at the University of Nevada. “I think too often, whether it’s an AAU practice, a high school practice, college practice or even an NBA practice, you’ve got to have guys on edge where they are looking forward to something new to catch their antennae to make the game fun and unique.”
That means coaches have to beat boredom with action-filled and creative drills that rev kids’ competitive juices.
When kids are moving, involved and don’t know what’s coming next there’s no chance for boredom to creep into the practice.
“When boredom sets in and it’s a daily routine of the same thing over and over and over nobody looks forward to it,” Musselman says. “The coaching staff doesn’t look forward to it and the players don’t look forward to it, so I think whatever your philosophy is that you are trying to teach one of the big things is how do you continue to grab their attention where there is an excitement when they walk into the gym or an excitement when you walk onto a baseball diamond? It’s that anticipation of wondering what is coming next.”
RAISING ENERGY, RAISING CONFIDENCE
Kids want to have success; and they need to have it to keep their interest in the sport.
“No. 1, if you want to have a confident player at any age, they have to see themselves with success,” Musselman says.
When kids are struggling, and their confidence is teetering, coaches must adjust to each player’s circumstances to help pull them out of the muck of negativity.
“If your Little League player is struggling with his batting you don’t continue to put him in the batting cage and throw curveballs at him,” Musselman says. “He needs to hit off a batting tee so he sees success. If a player is struggling from the foul line maybe you start him in two or three feet from the rim. You have to build confidence up through somebody seeing themselves be successful.”
Coaches can also talk to players, reminding them of games or practices where they performed well, or competed hard. Getting youngsters to operate in a positive mindset, with good thoughts, usually leads to improved play.
“At the collegiate level when we have a player struggling we’ll bring him in and show him highlight tape of when he had great success to make him feel good about himself as a player,” Musselman says. “So I think that’s how you build guys up.”
Traci Callahan, professional beach volleyball player and youth coach, on the value of providing honest feedback to young players to forge connections, drive development and deliver rewarding seasons
During these unprecedented times coaches still play an all-important role in their young athletes’ lives. Use these tips from well-known psychologist Dr. Peter Scales to stay connected, involved and help players be ready once seasons resume.
University of Iowa women’s volleyball coach Vicki Brown shares how she used visualization during her days as a youth coach to prepare teens for productive practicing
Volunteer youth coach of several sports on recognizing each young athlete's learning style and treating everyone with that all-important respect