Sport coaching for team sports often emphasizes the physical
mechanics. But there’s something else that can greatly improve a team’s
skills. A perfect example of team unity in nature might be those flocks
of birds that whirl through the air, then suddenly all shift in a new
direction at the same time as though they can predict what needs to
Imagine the chaos if they didn’t have access to that ability?
Imagine if your sports team did?
When I coached girls’ softball, I saw this ability in the kids develop over time. They started knowing ahead of time what would be pitched or if a throw would be off, so they could adjust in time.
The improvements in sports teams can be outstanding
The author of one of our downloadable book affiliates, Get Psyched for Sports: Pregame Mental Strategies believes the mechanics of sports are small compared to mental focus.
Group activities for sport coaching to achieve focus, pre-awareness of others’ actions and better team unity
You'll play various body language guessing games with your team. By
engaging in these group activities often enough, athletes get
re-introduced to their ability to observe “what’s going to happen before
it happens” enough times to reawaken and strengthen this ability.
Here are some examples, but when you get the hang of it, you’ll no doubt make up your own. I’ve used softball as the example sport, but adapt it to hockey, volley ball, basketball… whatever team sport improvement you’re working on. (They’ll learn to observe regardless of the sport you emphasize, but it has more meaning by emphasizing your team's sport for these group activities.)
Sport coaching example 1: Gather the team to sit as a group audience while one volunteer teammate is the actor. Set up three targets at least 20 feet apart that the volunteer player can throw a softball towards (or kick a soccer ball, serve a volley ball, shoot a basketball towards…). Put three softballs (pucks, baseballs, footballs…) near the volunteer. Whisper to her which targets she’ll throw (kick, hit…) the ball towards. For example, “target one, then target three, then back to target one.” Say, “Go!” The volunteer begins throwing the ball, while the team shouts out as soon as they think they know which target she’ll throw towards. If she forgets the order of targets to throw towards and throws in the wrong order, that’s okay. The point is just for her to throw somewhere and let the others guess which target she’s throwing to before it happens.
Sport coaching example 2: Same as above, only have just one target. For basketball and hockey, the target would simply be a basketball hoop or the hockey goal. This time the volunteer will either purposely throw the ball directly towards the target, purposely to the left, or purposely to the right. The rest of the team calls out, “left!” “center!” or, “right!” as soon as they think they know what will happen. Realize the volunteer may mean to hit the center and go left accidentally. That’s fine for this game, and can even make it more valuable for the other teammates. His weakness on his target ability shouldn’t be made an issue of during this observing practice. After the game, you can privately give him some target practices he can work on individually.
Sport coaching example 3: The volunteer for this game needs good control of her skills, so it may need to be the coach or an older more skilled volunteer who’s not on the team. Choose three different offensive actions that could take place during a game. For example, in baseball or softball, the player could hit a grounder, a pop up, or a line drive. In football, the quarter back could throw to the left, fake to the right, or run with the ball. Gather the team as above, and have the group call out what they think the move will be each time the word, “Go!” is shouted by the coach.
Here are the main benefits of these sport coaching activities
- Kids learn to flow better with their teammates at sometimes lightening speed… even predicting a missed catch or an off-target throw before it reaches them, so they can adjust to it.
- Just by learning to read body language in their teammates, they’ll automatically get keener at predicting their opponents’ moves… change ups, fakes, bunts, and so on.
It also strengthens mental focus in sports skills in general, helping
individual players catch more footballs, spike more volleyballs and hit
more pitched baseballs without distraction or second-guessing. One of
the joys of coaching sports for kids especially is that as they develop
sports skills, they develop valuable lifetime skills as well.
See also our main girls' softball site: Girls Softball Info