Kids, as we know in this age of iPad’s, portable DVD players and those set in car seats and one push button toys that offer instant gratification it is no wonder a very hard commodity to teach little kids is……..Patience.
Doing a summer camp this week I had 2 very athletic little boys and it was their first time playing tennis. One boy, Andrew’s only goal was to beat his friend Teddy who has been playing about a year, Teddy is very good! So the first day of camp I am not present, but my colleague says wait till you get your hands on these two boys they are going to be great! I do my first day with the little boys and the kids are great they are so energetic and clearly love sports. We play a little world cup shoot out along the ground with rackets and a few other warm up games but then all they want to do is play and ask is when can we play doubles?
After about 45 minutes we start rallying and introducing serve and they struggle. I try to make the drills and games fun but I can’t fool these two boys! They know we are not playing ‘real doubles’ or a singles match. After the break I make a plan to give in and let them at it but no doubt I predict the matches will be short lived points with more time spent picking up balls that actually playing points. I am right and we go back to drills and sad faces.
At this point I call the kids in to come up with a plan and its hit me! “Kids do you know what a Ninja is?” I can’t believe what’s coming out of my mouth! The boys eyes light up and say yea they are AWESOME. We talk and I ask “what does a Ninja do? They all say go on missions and the one boy says “Kills things on videos games” and other colorful answers. Then I ask how are Ninjas so cool and always complete their mission and without ever getting seen? They all say because they train between missions and use weapons and practice etc… Andrew the sitting down says “coach matches are like the Ninjas missions right” and bingo I think I have cracked getting them to practice the tools they will need to be more successful when they play matches.
For the next 3 days in Camp the kids train like little Ninjas and their reward on Friday they play points making my neck hurt side to side! When teaching patience to little kids its hard to get them to relate to anything, but we all know little kids love Ninjas!!! Patience can be learned but only if the kids know what the reward will be. Like a completed mission the kids were able to have a quality match serve returning and rallying. Job done little Ninjas.
Mark O’Neill is a member of the evolve9 professional development team.
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