Is there really such a thing as a FREE Lunch?
Did you ever get something for free? Something which came your way even though you didn’t do anything to earn it? Maybe you were just in the right time at the right place? That felt good right?
Of course children need to learn that you can’t get something for nothing in this world. Through hard work you can achieve anything. ‘Do the best you can’, ‘help others’, ‘continue’, ‘play fair’. These are all elements of a good kids program.
And yet there is something in the world of gaming that kids do get for free, something that makes them happy and which is also useful. It is called:
‘Free lunch’ is defined as follows:
A dynamic in which a child feels that they are getting something for free due to someone else having done work. It’s critical that work is perceived to have been done (just not by the player in question) to avoid breaching trust in the scenario. The player must feel that they’ve ‘lucked’ into something.
How can we use this principle in our program? In my earlier blogs I mentioned that one of the principles we like, at evolve9, is playing in a team. Teams can, of course, play against other teams but they can also work together to achieve things. This co-operation is valuable to build a sense of belonging and connection to the program and so has value and should be rewarded with points for the team.
The ‘free lunch’ principle can be applied the same way. Examples of a ‘free lunch’ are:
- Lisa and Elly from the training group play tennis together and played a ‘best of three’ tiebreaker game. This action provides the team with 5 points on the total score.
- During training Johnny and Meike managed to improve the monthly record for the longest rally. This is worth 10 points for the team score.
- Brian, an orange player, assisted during the red tennis class. This action gives the team five points.
- Four children have been playing independently throughout the week. During the weekend tournament all of the children that belong to this group start with a score of 1-0 during a tie-break tournament.
Of course our purpose it is not to make a child think it can get everything for nothing. It is important to realize that free lunch is one of the nine gaming mechanics and that it should be given a place next to the other mechanics that can create a good kids program. Balance is very important.
The ice cream truck
The challenge here is to make sure that these extra activities are of value to your program and the tennis environment that you want to present. You have to be aware of activities which have no other purpose. You can also read Mike’s blog ‘don’t turn my Ferrari into an icecream truck’ on this subject. All the elements in the program must have value.
A connection with other parts of your program is essential. Getting kids to help out, practice, or initiate play, or creating a connection to the tournament, the program and the team to which they belong. Combining elements ensures that the program is experienced as a total rather than as a program that consists of several separated parts.
Other blogs in this series are:
- Gamification, use the right buttons?
- Chocolate covered broccoli
- Who’s game is it anyway? Ownership in Kids Tennis
- 5 ways to spice up your program with ‘levels’
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.