Need some tips on how to keep young or lethargic players engaged and excited about practice? Here, we share 20 practice tips to improve energy and to keep your athletes excited about the sport broken down into four major sections. Download a printable of the list here.
1 | Be a cagey practice planner
Always start with some sort of competition, switch partners frequently to mix it up, don't use punishment as a drill consequence, utilize an assistant coach or parent to run a drill or work with a certain player, reward players at the end of practice with incentives, and be flexible with practice scheduling to help keep players engaged.
2 | Manipulate time to your advantage
Never do a drill for more than 10 minutes, communicate a clear end to each drill (whether that's by time, reps or points), experiment ways to encourage players to hustle between drills and use a "throw in" ball to initiate play for every missed serve during a drill.
3 |Make competition your friend
Keep competitive games short, use a Queen of the Court format that rewards your top-performing players, and always record individual and team scores so players are motivated to perform well.
4 | Manage your coaching behaviors
Be clear with your communication and coaching, try to keep drills going even when you give pointers to individual players, use player models to encourage positive skills, and finally, CELEBRATE the little improvements! It's incredibly important for coaches to find the little positives and remind athletes of how much they're valued.