One way I have found to keep my teams motivated is to take a step back from practice and let the athletes play a game. No matter what the age is, from tinies all the way up to senior age, they all love to play games once in a while at practice. The key is to let them play games that are age appropriate. I have found that the youngest age teams like to play games as simple as “Duck, Duck, Goose”, as for the older athletes, this is not the case. One of the most popular games that my teams have played is a game we call “Classes”. This game is where you split the team up into two different teams. You then explain the rules (you can really make up whatever you would like). As a coach, we would just give them a task to do and whoever completed it first would get a point. All of the athletes found this to be tons of fun and quite possibly their favorite game to play at practice, even though it is a simple concept. These are just a few ideas of games, nevertheless you can have your team play any game you or they want.
Another way I have found to keep a team motivated is to set goals that are to be met by a specific date. Something as simple as that will keep a team positive and allow them to have it set in their minds that they need to keep on working. At the gym I work at, we have the athletes all get in a circle and hold a piece of ribbon that connects them all as one. We then go down the line letting each athlete state their personal goal and their team goal. Once we get through everyone on the team each athlete cuts off a small piece of the ribbon and ties it to his or her shoe. That way they have a constant reminder of their goal and promise to the team.
Another great way to keep a team motivated is to get them out of the gym as a team. You can do something as simple as have a party at someone’s house. Many times my team would have pasta parties or pizza parties at someone’s house. We would each chip in for the costs and then bring in a dessert, drinks, snacks, appetizers, etc. This is always a fun way to get the team together outside of practice. It is very inexpensive and creates great memories. It also brings the team closer together because they are hanging out and having fun outside of practice.
An additional fun way to get the team out of the gym and motivated is to go to a team building activity together. Team building activities can be almost anything; a great one is obstacle courses. As a team, we went to an outdoor facility together (called Iron Oaks). There we did fun activities that kept us all thinking. Alongside of it keeping us thinking, it assured that we all worked together to accomplish a goal. The way that this keeps a team motivated is because it is keeping a team working together to accomplish a goal, just as a team needs to keep working together to push through competitions.
Another key tool to keep a team motivated is simple, communication. Keep communicating with your athletes. Talk to them about things that are going on in their lives, if they are having troubles outside of the sport, then chances are they will take the problems with them into the gym. This causes for distractions, and everyone in cheerleading knows it is really hard to push through practice when you have other things on your mind.
Be sure to give your team the right tools to stay motivated. Make sure they have the right equipment to succeed, whether it is the right type of shoe or clothing to the right type of mats or trampolines. This will help them train hard and correctly. Athletes will not be able to advance their skills if they do not have the correct tools to keep working and advancing.
The most important way to keep a team motivated is to lead by example. Be a good example to your team, whether you are a coach, athlete, parent, or a gym owner. Setting a good example will cause the team to look up to you and want to work just as hard as you are. If you are a hard worker and positive about things, then your team will look toward you for guidance and want to learn from you.