Delivering practice sessions that are productive and fun
By Josue Miranda
- Flip the Switch – Adjust your attitude to match or exceed your participants’ energy levels to ensure fun and positive practices.
- Set expectations and standards prior to each session. Map out the session to the participants.
- Keep session lengths age appropriate. Keep in mind that you are working with the specific age group's attention span.
- Minimize lines and waiting. Keep them busy!
- Emphasize on proper technique of functional movements (for respective sport/activity). Power or force development will come after proper technique. Include various skills/activities for optimum overall motor skill development and movement competency. Incorporate resistance and aerobic movements. Prepare performance cues to assist youth in understanding movements.
- To maintain participant engagement, make “having fun” the goal of your program. Incorporate fun warm-up games (e.g., Sharks and Minnows, Relay Races, etc.). Create leaders by providing all an opportunity to be a leader (i.e., Team Captains, pick a participant to demonstrate an exercise, etc.). Encourage teamwork and respect for each other. Emphasize on working together to accomplish a common goal. Provide words of encouragement and positive affirmations. Reward good effort with fun games or competition to end your session.
- Educate participants on positive outcomes of participation in the activity (i.e., improved physical/mental fitness, improved skills in sports, etc.) Provide encouragement, positive feedback for improvement, and mentorship.
- “Read the room” – Be able to adapt on the fly. Have a Plan B and be able to identify when participants are losing interest and when to move on to the next activity.
- Cool down and recap the session. Answer questions and show appreciation for hard work!
Josue Miranda is a Certified Youth Sports Administrator, an Army Youth Functional Fitness Trainer (AYFFT) Instructor, and the Army Outdoor Recreation Director at USAG Fort Huachuca in Arizona.
University of Georgia research suggests love of the game and the chance to compete are motivating factors for high school athletes specializing in one sport
About 50 percent now think the sport is inappropriate for youth, according to researchers at The Ohio State University
Study features more than 450 youth ages 10 to 18
Youth with high BMI showed signs of artery stiffness, a risk factor for cardiovascular disease, University of Georgia study finds