The other week we posted a blog post entitled “Fun Team Bonding Exercises for Youth Sports Teams” that offered coaches a few ways to help break the ice with the new teams and get the kids working together in a few no-pressure situations. It was all about having fun! One of our readers, Benjamin Halverson, left this great comment:
This year I wanted to break down my kid’s “need” to always look cool in front of one another all the time and to help them understand that it’s not the end of the world if you screw up and look silly (because sometimes that happens) by putting them in a couple situations where they had no choice but to….we did, 2 hours of team karaoke after practice once, on one Saturday we did 3 hours of “Who’s line is it Ayway” [sic] improv games and another time $1 bowling night at our local alley where we had to dress “silly”. It takes 1 or 2 kids being brave enough to be first but once it gets going, these really took off and all worked amazingly well. I think brought our team much closer together.
We loved his idea so much that we decided to write a blog post about it! Halverson made a great point about kids needing to look cool in front of their friends and teammates (especially true when you start coaching 12 and 13 year olds. Being cool is essential when you’re in 8th grade!) But being so worried about looking cool and doing the “right” thing in every situation can actually limit the potential of your youth athletes! Because they are afraid to make a mistake they may not be willing to take risks and really push themselves out on the field. They might also be so disheartened by a dropped pass or missed goal that they can’t snap themselves out of it for the rest of the game. Youth athletes need to learn how to bounce back from a loss or mistake and keep playing their best, but it’s hard for a coach to teach them that lesson is they aren’t willing to make the mistake in the first place.
Halverson’s suggestion that you put your players in situations that are a little outside of their comfort zones is a great idea. Even if it’s not on the field, like his ideas for silly bowling or team karaoke, fun team building exercises teach your players that it’s ok to not look “cool” in front of their teammates. You never want a player to feel like they are being judged by the rest of the team for making a mistake, so setting up scenarios where EVERYONE is going to goof up takes some of that fear away.
Remember that youth sports are supposed to be fun! We love that Halverson took this motto to heart and found a great way to get his team comfortable with each other and learn that it’s okay to be silly and make mistakes. Way to go coach!