Coaching a sport is always challenging no matter who you are. At times, it can be like herding a bunch of kindergartners rather than coaching a well oiled machine. In fact, you might actually be coaching kindergartners at times and there really is no comparison for that sort of thing! In order to make the job easier and the team more effective, you obviously have to know what you are doing. At times, it is helpful to implement a few tips and tricks to help move things along.
Well, as it happens, there is one idea that you might not have thought of. Implementing this one trick can really help motivate your team. The trick is one of the oldest reward mechanisms around, embroidered merit badges.
These have often been used in scouting to gauge certain achievements. For instance, a girl might get her cooking badge when she prepares a meal for family and friends. On the converse, a boy might receive his camping badge after he makes a fire or completes a camp out with a few of his buddies in the group. The secret behind the badge is that with each achievement, the desire to achieve more and reach the next level is intensified. This same principle can be applied to coaching.
Applying the Badge to Coaching
Consider having several badges made up that are non-merit-based to begin with. For example, you can always have one with your team member’s name displayed, the name of the team, and the mascot to start off with. These can be applied to the shirt or uniform at different points in a standard configuration after a short team ceremony is conducted. From that point on, consider giving other badges out as certain things occur. You might have one for the player who excels the most at a particular skill during practice, or one who shows the most improvement.
You could have another badge for players who “make the game” or provide the “most” of something such as a tackle, steal, block, etc. You get the point. The idea is to reward the players as often as possible to encourage them in their personal development.
The best part? You can hand them out for anything! Try giving out a badge for a certain number of practices that are attended if you are having trouble getting your team together on the weekends. You will be amazed at the difference it makes when a child receives a badge for showing up time and time again, after other children on your team have failed to do so. This also reinforces the idea that the sport is something that should be a priority to your players rather than a hobby. All of this is based on the simple mechanism of behavior and reward. It has been around for centuries and is quite effective. It is a proven way to motivate people. Who knew such a winning strategy could be implemented so easily with a simple embroidered patch?