Thursday, March 25, 2010

Are You Ready For Practice?

I never thought I'd see the day where the snow would melt in Iowa, but that day has come!

Soon, you'll be ready to take to the fields for baseball, soccer or whatever your children choose to play this spring. It's even better if you've volunteered to take up the burden as "coach". Two things to remember on this front - first, I want to thank you for volunteering. The world needs more parents to step up and volunteer for coaching roles. Second, it's not as hard as you think. Remember, they are young children and the most important priority is to have fun!

Here's a checklist of items you may want to consider as you move toward your practices --

Introduce yourself to parents. Take time to call them each by phone and offer them your take on season expectations. Make sure to obtain e-mail addresses so you can easily communicate with them regularly about practices, games and other events.

Identify a place to practice. Does the league offer facilities where you can schedule practice time? Do you need to reserve public spaces or is it "first come, first served"? If the weather is still crummy, contact the facilities manager at your local school district to identify the policy for reserving gym space.

Develop a practice plan. Time out a plan for all of the activities you want to accomplish for each practice and share with assistant coaches. You can't believe how much more productive the time in practice will be if you make a habit of doing this.

Have a list of warmup drills ready. Plan to do 10 to 15 minutes of standard stretching exercises, lunges, sprints, pushups, situps and the like. These are great for getting young bodies ready for a practice or game.

Make sure water is available. As it gets warm, either bring a cooler or make sure there is access to water fountain. Trust me, young children are lucky to remember their equipment, much less a bottle of water.

End practice with a fun activity and a positive word. I like to end practice with a fun activity that involves the kids running around to a point where they are working, but having fun. Relays, baserunning races are both good for these types of activities. Share a positive word with the kids before they leave to keep things on the high road.

Now go have fun - outdoors, hopefully!

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