1. Set the Expectations from the Start - My expectations during practice are as follows: respect/encourage each other, contribute maximum effort always and have fun. On the first night, we teach kids how to introduce themselves by shaking their hand, looking them in the eye, smiling, to say, “Hi my name is Sally.”
2. Always have a Plan – You might not follow it exactly, but it’s nice to have a guide in case your mind goes blank. My typical plan: movement, skill work, mini games, conditioning, review.
3. Focus on Low Numbers/Repetition - Design drills that are quick and easy to explain, do a demonstration, and let them work. Start with individual work, partner work, and finish with small groups.
4. Build on the Basics - Use drills that evolve from the fundamentals and have more challenging levels to build upon. Partner Passing Example: Catch/Toss, Catch/Pass, Pass/Pass, Catch/Toss Alternating Short and Deep, Catch/Pass, Pass/Pass.
5. Develop a Universal System – Everyone should call the ball the same way, call for sets the same way, have the same signs for the set calls, learn the same defenses, and the same serve receive, etc.
6. Emphasize Teamwork – Many young athletes do not understand the team concept and can take a while to catch on to positioning when the ball is not to them. Give high fives, shag balls together, do as much as a team as possible.
7. Avoid saying “Don’t” –– Anything you want to say negatively, flip to a positive. Example: Instead of saying “Don’t swing your platform.” Say, “Emily, hold your platform steady!”
8. Review the Session – Every kid should leave each session knowing they learned something new and with an eagerness to improve on their new knowledge.
9. Assign Homework - Keep it simple, but give them something to work on. Example: 100 ball touches every day and one footwork drill 3x.
10. Be Positive and Have fun! – Sometimes groups will be great, other times they may slack off. Be positive, have fun, and remember they are young kids trying to learn something new!