As a coach and long-time softball player, I know that one of the biggest issues come practice time is the ability to keep every athlete engaged and motivated throughout the duration of our two to three-hour session. And sometimes, it can be hard to keep the entire team going when the season is winding down – even though that’s arguably the most important point within the entire season!
So, how do you do it? Well, maybe there are some offbeat ways to keep all eyes on the prize. Check out four ways to keep your players engaged. They’re a bit unconventional but the ideas have each become buzzworthy in their own right. Let’s take a deeper dive.
4 Ways to Keep Your Players Engaged
Create Small Goals & Celebrate Them
Instead of “LET’S WIN STATE” – focus on closer goals. These step-by-step additions will create a better and more focused vision for your athletes. You can even differ your goals for individual players or groups depending on the need.
If each of your girls or guys are working on achieving the next (small) step on the list, they’ll be more inclined to stay engaged in the bigger end goal as well. They’ll be improving throughout the season making that trophy a bit closer to the schedule.
Carve Out One-on-One Time
Make sure that you create a space for some one-on-one instruction and time with your players. We don’t care if you’re coaching a team sport, it’s imperative that you build that relationship with each of the athletes on your team.
Even if it’s just five minutes to go over a swing or free-throw technique, this time will show each of the kids that they’re valued by their coach. That value goes leaps and bounds beyond the realm of just the court, field, or rink. Instead, this will boost their self-confidence and that boost will create further momentum to complete the season on a high.
Whether you make sprints a bit more fun by adding a “race against your teammate” element or whoever stays for 20 minutes longer to practice double plays gets to pick the warm-up music for the tournament coming the following weekend, adding an element of “game” to your practices will help motivate throughout your sessions.
No Standing Policy
A lot of practices – no matter the sport – provide a lot of room for just standing around. Waiting on your teammates to finish drills or warmup. Waiting on your turn at the plate or your turn taking the shots – it’s an inevitable part of practice and probably the reason that so many players get drowsy-eyed so quickly.
To remedy this, enact a “no standing” policy to practice. You can’t just tell your kids this, though. You have to provide options like having them sprint from position to position or rotate positions after every single play. Create fundamental stations and have them flowing throughout the entire practice. Everyone will have something to do at all times – and this utilizes practice time even more so as well!