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.
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