One of the biggest challenges coaches face, especially when training young athletes, is finding ways to make the repetitive nature of a workout fun. Whether it is swimming laps, perfecting beam routines, practicing free throw drills or doing intervals, every sport has its fundamentals that must be done over and over in order to learn and master the skills needed for success.
I frequently use a variety of techniques for keeping my gymnasts motivated and having fun – like creating a “lemonade lounge” for a reward zone during conditioning, rewarding them with jumps on trampoline for performing a routine successfully, or occasionally letting them take turns being “coach” during conditioning. And sometimes we get out a bag of Skittles, smarties, or other little treat and use those as incentives to master a correction a little quicker.
My daughter’s swim coaches use Skittles in a different way. They use them as a code for what stroke the kids practice next. Each swimmer gets a skittle and then checks the white board for the color coded key. The coaches mix it up each time they play the game – sometimes one color is a dramatically more difficult task than another, but the kids still love it. They quickly eat their skittle, then jump in the water to perform the task assigned to the skittle they just ate. As soon as the task is accomplished, they are back for another one. It is definitely one of my daughter’s favorite training games.
While I have outlined how the swim coaches play the Skittle game, you can certainly adapt this game for ANY sport (or even kids chores around the house for that matter) and make it a fun addition to your athletes’ training.