Programming Ideas For Young Athletes
By Dave Gleason
Without a doubt, the most popular game amongst our youngest athletes (Discovery 6-9 years) is the Pirate Game. Many Athletic Revolution coaches have successfully adopted and modified this multi-purposed game to meet the needs of their young athletes.
Coordination, systemic strength, cooperation, object manipulation and FUN are all the required elements of the Athletic Revolution programming templates. All of these elements are layered into the Pirate Game and can be duplicated and or expanded on with any other theme.
Themed games or programs are fantastic ways to incorporate several movement-based skills while masking them as fun for your young athletes
The adventure theme is a great variation. The following activities can and should be coached using the part whole method. These are suggestions and the art of coaching will allow you to modify these activities to suit the needs of your young athletes within the confines or your facility and equipment availability.
Climb the Mountain - Use Valslides or just do traditional Mountain Climbers. Cueing on this one is to “look up, don’t look down”.
Cross the River – Using balance pods, low balance beams or agility disks have the athletes cross the river that is already mapped out by you or have them cross the river while bring 2 or three implements with them.
Traverse the Canyon – Have your athletes cross a span of monkey bars, climb a cargo net or pull a battle rope attached to a sled, kettle bell or other weighted implement.
Anaconda – The young athletes must defeat the anaconda by working as a team to press the entire battle rope overhead.
Climb the Vines - Athletes will climb monkey bars, a cargo net or climbing rope.
Avalanche – This activity can be carried out in two ways. 1.) Coaches chase athletes by rolling stability balls 2.) Coaches roll multiple dodge balls (rocks) and athletes attempt to dodge them.
River Rapids – Place a UCS plyosafe box on top of an Airex pad for a bit of instability or utilize a Bosu ball (flat side up). The athletes must stay balanced on the implement in small groups for 8-10 seconds to “Ride the Rapids).
Quick Sand – Utilizing a gymnastics landing pad or “fat” pad, the athletes try to avoid sinking into the quick sand by stomping or running in place with quick feet. If they spend too much time in the quick sand they will surely sink!
If you do not have some of the above equipment at your disposal, be creative and if all else fails…ask one of your high motivation, high skilled young athletes to come up with some ideas.
Any themed game can be used for the game/cooperation portion of your programming, as a reward or for the entire class. Meet them where they are and observe. You will be able to ascertain when the game has run its course with them very quickly by observing attention level, effort and of course verbal cues – “Can we play something else?”
Remember your young athletes will mirror your energy and excitement so put on your Indiana Jones wanna be persona and have a blast!!
Keep changing lives…one at a time.