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Gamification, use the right buttons!

At evolve9 we may notice them more often. Messages about gamification or ‘gamifying’ as it is sometimes called. Why do the people who are involved in the world of kid’s tennis make such a fuss about gamification? What is gamification good for? Is gamification the secret behind a great youth program?

Let me start with a disappointing first announcement.

Gamification is not going to help you create a great kids program if. . .

You have no understanding of the development of a good youth program. You cannot fly a Boeing 747 if you have no understanding of aviation. No matter how advanced the plane is.

When I became manager for the National U10 tennis program, I immersed myself in gamification. One of the most inspiring quotes that I heard was:

Game design is designing human behavior.

After hearing this, I asked myself if the creation of a tennis program could indeed be seen as ‘designing human behavior’. And, more importantly: what behavior do I actually want to see in my youth program?

video gamerFor me it is about, among other things, the following issues: motivated children, curious children, enthusiastic children, children who want to learn, children who want to train and children who see tennis as part of their daily lives. And I am sure you have lots of things you would like to add to this list yourself.

There are many known ways that may cause children to exhibit the behavior abovementioned. Think for example about the use of the appropriate materials. (ROG balls, smaller sized rackets, smaller tennis courts, and age appropriate methodologies). At Evolve9 we see these things as if they were buttons which you can press in order to reach the ultimate goal: to make the children exhibit the behavior that you envision.

Gaming mechanics are like buttons. 

Gaming mechanics are in our opinion also buttons which you can press in order to eventually achieve the desired effect. But in order to fly the airplane well, you also have to know the function of each button really well.

Can you also design undesirable behavior? Unfortunately, I think that it is possible. It may sound harsh, but I think that unmotivated children are often the result of poor design.

In the next few blog posts we will try to find the secrets behind gamification. And we will find out how we can utilize the knowledge of game designers.

Please respond to our blogs. We love to read your thoughts, comments and ideas.

Next blog – Chocolate covered broccoli and why gaming means practicing

ronald head shot 2

Ronald Pothuizen – Director evolve9, Netherlands

Ronald was the program manager for the U12 program in The Netherlands for 16 years. He is manager the Tenniskids Program with extensive coach education courses (over 1500 coaches), a competition program for 35,000 kids and the support program for Dutch clubs (1400). Along working for the Dutch Federation, Ronald was very active internationally as a member of the ITF Play and Stay Taskforce.

He has been to more than 15 countries to run workshops and/or to present for the ITF in U10. In 2011, Ronald started the evolve9 Serious Kids Stuff foundation. This foundation built the first Slum Red courts in the World. Prior to working for the Dutch Federation (KNLTB), Ronald was a Tennis director for 11 years in The Netherlands.

Ronald will be presenting many of the unique ways that Tennis Programs can use best practice from around the world at the evolution Junior Directors Conference at College Park, MD – July 22nd – 24th 2016


  • I am extremely impressed with your writing skills and also with the layout on your blog.
    Is this a paid theme or did you customize it yourself?
    Anyway keep up the excellent quality writing, it is rare to see
    a great blog like this one these days.

    • Ronald Pothuizen
      March 18, 2016

      Thank you for your kind reply. We will keep writing blogs with interesting information.

  • Xexilia
    March 19, 2016

    You’ve really captured all the esltienass in this subject area, haven’t you?


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