How To Keep Younger Students Engaged

If you’re a sports instructor, you’ll know that one of the hardest things to do is to keep your younger students engaged at all times. Younger students will lose interest quickly if they are not motivated, so it’s up to you to make sure they are! Regardless of the sport, there a few things you can do that will encourage engagement from your little learners and turn even the most uninterested one into an attentive student.

Keep a high level of positivity at all times

Leave your baggage at the door before you set foot in the gym or on the pitch. It doesn’t matter if you’ve had a rough week, it’s not their fault, so put on a happy face! Children will feed off your positive energy, but they’ll also do the same with negativity. When you’re teaching younger students you need to maintain a positive attitude at all times as your students will follow your example. This can be attributed to the pieces of our brain known as mirror neurons. These mirror neurons are the reason why we yawn when we see someone else yawning. Children will mimic your attitude. If you are stressed, hunched over and physically depressed, kids will mimic that. If you maintain a positive vibe, smile and act as happy as you can, your students will act the same.

Single certain pupils out for public praise

If you’re running a drill, blocking a punch for example and you’re noticing one of your students is not as engaged as the others, single them out in a positive way. Run the drill and give them some one on one attention. Once they succeed at the drill, have all your other students gather round and use that student to show the rest of the class how it’s done. This will give that student a sense of achievement and make them feel great as their blocking technique has been singled out as the best. Other students will then be eager to succeed as they’ll want to show the rest of the class how good they are. Try this with different students throughout the session.

Praise, correct, praise.

You may find that your students aren’t responding to your critique. This may be your fault. When offering criticism to your students, make sure that it is constructive and hide that constructive criticism within praise. If your student is not following the correct kicking technique and you can see that it is because of their balance, praise, correct, praise is the key.

An example:

Get your student to show you the kick against a pad 3 times. Praise them on how well their guard is first and foremost and say something like this “Steve, that guard is fantastic, now what I want you to do is bend your knee when you kick this pad (the child then kicks the pad with correct technique). Well done, that is a perfect kick, great job.” In this scenario you hid the constructive criticism within two positives. The student learns what they are doing wrong, whilst feeling great about the situation.

Throw random activities in

If you’re running drills, this can become monotonous for little ones. A good way of breaking the monotony and waking your students up is to throw a random activity in. Let’s say you’re running basketball defence drills with your students and some are beginning to wane. All of a sudden shout out that you want them to do 5 push ups and 5 star jumps. This completely random activity will wake them up and help them re engage with what’s going on.

Be fun

Sport is supposed to be fun, so make sure you’re joking around with your students from time to time. Try and intersperse your lessons with fun activities, jokes and humour now and then. This will strengthen your bond with your students and really bring your session to life. You’re more than just a sports instructor, you’re trying to make a positive impact on their lives, so make sure you have a laugh with your students too.

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