Putting the Fun Back in Coaching
Recently, I had the opportunity to watch one of my best friends coach his high-school baseball team in the State Baseball Tournament. The thing that I came away most impressed with of Jerry’s team was that his team looked like it was having an extra ordinary amount of fun while playing together. There were kids smiling, laughing and joking with each other, but at the same time they were being ultra competitive too. I contrasted this to the other team that I saw playing and the players looked tense and general didn’t look like they were having a very good time.
Is it possible to be competitive and at the same time have a good time too? I think it definitely is and all of this starts with the attitude of the head coach. I was fortunate to have a lot of great coaches a long the way, but the ones I admired the most were the ones who not only knew the game in and out, but also made sure that there players were having fun too. As you age wins and losses kind of fade and you realize the things that you remember the most about athletic competition were the people you met along the way and the fun that you had. If your coaches concentrated solely on winning, you probably aren’t going to have a lot of great memories.
How can a coach instill competivness in his or her athletes yet still let them have fun? I don’t think that you have to do extraordinary things to do this, but you do have to make some type of effort. Here are a few of my suggestions to motivate players and bring the element of fun back into practice and games.
One of the simplest things that you can do is having your players switch positions during practice. In football, we use to have our lineman and receivers reverse roles. Have you ever seen a large offensive lineman running and out and up pattern or having a small split-end hit the seven man blocking sled? Not only do the players enjoy doing this, players also get a better understanding of what their teammates are doing at their position.
Players VS Coaching Staff
Players like to see that their coaches are human too and building some type of competition between the coaching staff and players can bring fun back into sports too. We use to have a baseball coach who use to get into a fungo hitting competition with the players and the players just loved it.
Occasionally at practice we might have a theme like Hawaii short night where all the players and coaches wore bright colored shirts.
What better way to have fun then giving something back to your community. Kids love all types of clinics and if you can have high-school and college age students work with the kids the more they will enjoy. It is not only a great way to instruct kids, but a way for the players to have fun and build team unity.
All of these things that I have listed are above are just simple things that you can incorporate in your season to help your athletes have more fun. In the age of select teams and year round training make sure that you are still incorporating that element of fun into your coaching philosophy. The coaches that do this will certainly add to the experience for their athletes.