For many young athletes involved in sport this year, the season ended before it even began. The disruption to many competitions (be it school or representative) as a result of COVID has resulted in restricted training, limited game time and diminished motivation levels for many players. For sports such as basketball, with the competitive season now officially over for juniors and a long break now until the start of next season, how can clubs and coaches ensure that players remain engaged until 2021? Let’s look at 3 easy ways to help achieve this.
Maintain fitness to stay game ready
During a regular season, much of the core fitness work comes through the structured team training sessions. With such a long period off it is easy to fall into bad habits, get lazy and neglect substituting these team sessions for individual training. This will result in a lower general fitness base going into next season and an elevated risk of injury through under training. It is important that junior athletes maintain a combination of Strength, Speed and Stretching workouts in addition to skills based training. Encourage your players to focus on areas like core strength, agility drills and flexibility. Set them goals and monitor their progress over time.
Set fun challenges
A great way to develop club and team unity while maintaining motivation level is through challenges. Challenges can be fun or they can be competitive. Why not set a copycat style challenge, where you set a ball handling sequence and see who can replicate it. Alternatively, see who can record the longest plank time, or shortest 20m sprint time across your team or club. I am aware of certain clubs who build an entire offseason program into a challenge and see who is crowned king of each age group when returning from school holidays.
Team based sport is not only a competitive outlet for many juniors, but is also a social situation where they can connect with their friends, coaches and club. Through this interaction they develop long lasting friendships that transcend school, family and geography. During the off season, it’s not always possible to maintain this face to face contact, so it’s important that coaches and clubs find ways to keep in contact with players. While it is discouraged for coaches to connect with players individually on social media, group discussion with their team and providing encouragement for training based achievements is a good way to continue communicating in a child safe environment.
Sportly is a junior sports development platform, purpose built to enable clubs, coaches and players to get better together. With a customisable skills and fitness training library, training programs, team challenges module and social player feed, it is capable of managing your end to end player development and engagement programs. For those clubs operating High Performance Programs, Sportly.Me can facilitate both physical and mental player wellness monitoring, in addition to training load measurement to ensure athletes compete at peak performance come game day. To find out how Sportly.Me can support your club, check out http://Sportly.me, download the app from both Google Play and Apple App store or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.