Making It Fun Part 3 – Developmental Stages & Levels

‘The sweet spot: that productive, uncomfortable terrain located just beyond our current abilities, where our reach exceeds our grasp.’– Daniel Coyle in The Talent Code

Do you know what athletes think is fun?

Getting better.
Fun games help keep the energy level high in practice and are important, but there is no substitute for the #1 way to have practices that athletes love: They need to feel tangible progress towards getting better.
3 ways you can implement this immediately:
  • Live by numbers – Create core drills that can be measured numerically. The focus is on improvement.
  • Developmental stages. Kids graduate from levels by testing out of levels. Instead of belt colors (like in Karate), you can have shirt colors. When they are ready to master a skill, they test on it, and move on to the next level after passing the test. Moving up a level is a big recognition – have some type quick ceremony and do something like ringing a victory bell.
  • Stuart Armstrong from The Talent Equation is a master on this subject – He says to design your practices like a video game designer:
    • Create ‘levels’ that are within their reach, but it’s a big stretch that might feel just out of their reach. So when they figure something out – ask them ‘are you ready for level 2 now?’
    • Use terms like ‘power-up’ and ‘freeze’ to mix up games during practice. One team can ‘freeze’ the other team for 5 seconds
Be intentional with your practice design to focus on each kid knowing what their next step of progress is, and celebrate like crazy as kids reach their next level!

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