One of the biggest challenges coaches face is keeping athletes interested, motivated, and improving all year (or season) long. This is particularly important in sports where there is a lot of repetition and long hours. I know I have posted about making conditioning fun before, but it really does make a difference!
Who says warm ups have to consist of just running in circles? You can get the same benefit by playing games (like my favorite Here, There and Everywhere), changing locations (we have the kids bring tennis shoes and we run outside to warm up on nice days), or changing the routine (like creating a big obstacle course).
The same goes for conditioning. Make it a challenge, use some creativity and have fun. Check out this great video of gymnasts trying to stay on the crazy block! I am definitely going to try that with my athletes.
Change Things Up
Instead of doing the same old drill and routine practice after practice, change the order, try new drills, and the athletes may not even realize they are perfecting the same skills.
I love rewarding kids for good effort. When we do conditioning as a group, I frequently give out trips to the “Lemonade Lounge” – a totally fictitious place that usually ends up being the trampoline or foam pit. The gymnast who is working the hardest on a set of exercises.
Sometimes we offer up rewards of random things like pennies, Skittles, jumps on trampoline, free time, or goodies that we have picked up for relatively little at the dollar store. You’d be surprised what kids will do for a reward of any kind.
Put The Athletes In Charge
One of my favorite conditioning games is having the girls start off running laps and then each time I say freeze, another member of the team gets to decide what exercise they will do 15 of. You’d be surprised how hard they work when the task is created by a peer. Sometimes we partner up and the girls are in charge of counting each other’s reps, making form corrections and making sure their partner gets the job done.