As coaches, you have been trained to take the lead and plan all aspects of your athletes' sport experience. What if athletes took the lead? Research points to empowerment as an important link to the development of a positive identity and enjoyment within sport. Giving athletes input into their sport experience will help to maintain interest and enable a positive experience. Allowing athletes to plan part of a practice is a good way to not only review what you have taught, but it also gives you an opportunity to learn something from your athletes and include them in the process of learning.
Recommended SCORE Plays – 'Your Turn'
- Let athletes plan a part of the practice - and not only the warmup! Have them take charge of a main drill, for example. As a coach, get involved in the practice and participate in their drill as well.
- Divided the team into 3 groups and have 1 group do the warmup, 1 group do a drill related to a skill that you would like to practice, and 1 group lead the scrimmage and cool down. Have a discussion after about what they liked and what they can improve.
According to some recent research, coaches have stated that recognition is an important part of the sport experience and can help with the development of youth. Recognition allows for young people to celebrate their own accomplishments and can be helpful in motivating athletes of any level. Recognizing athletes does not have to be elaborate and individual recognition could be small but making the time to highlight achievement is an important step.
Recommended SCORE Plays – 'Recognize!'
- Keep stats on certain drills and recognize improvements over 2 weeks.
- Give stamps or stickers for small improvements that lead to a bigger reward after a standard is met.
- Have athletes draw a name at the beginning of practice. They will have to keep an eye on that person for the practice. At the end of practice, stand in a circle and have athletes recognize the teammate they chose for something positive they did in practice.
'Tell A Story'
Everyone likes a good story. In sport, these stories are well-documented in print, online, and through videos. Learning through the experiences of others (or vicarious learning) is one way to build confidence in young players. Many of the situations that young players are experiencing have most likely been experienced already. Finding a story related to their experience might help them to gain perspective but also build confidence.
Recommended SCORE Plays – 'Tell A Story'
- Find an excerpt of a story (book, online, or video) that you can show/read to your team where an athlete is overcoming an adversity. Have a discussion with your team about the story and lessons learned.
- Think about a recent sporting event and an example of confidence that may have taken place in the game. Share it with your athletes and get their thoughts about what they can learn from that story.