Deborah Newkirk, founder of Coach Kids Up, talks about five ways a coach of young athletes can incorporate fun (subtly) into a practice.
- Disguise the fun during practice and "volleyball-like" scenarios: For instance, instead of coaching kids to "talk more," use a keyword like "celebrate!" to encourage players to foster energy.
- Don't make young athletes feel like they've been isolated for punishment: If you ever run a drill where one team loses and has a physical consequence, have the winning team create some solidarity with the losing team by either encouraging them to participate in the consequence, or have them perform half of the reps.
- Seamless practices mean continuity: Always come into practice with a plan so that players stay engaged and moving.
- You earned it: Remind players when they do something good and reinforce positive feelings of belonging within young athletes.
- Add music to lighten the mood, when appropriate.