By Jeremy Plaa
Thomas Downey High School
In our program, teaching the concept of HOW TO COMPETE is just as important as teaching technique and scheme. While some coaches may not believe that, the Competitive Games model has been great for us to celebrate success and use the lesson of losing to teach consequence and talk sportsmanship. And best of all, it’s fun and our kids love it.
Competitive Games have multiple benefits for our program:
- Each team has a captain and a co-captain, so it provides the opportunity to teach and build leadership
- Reinforces the idea that LEARNING TO COMPETE is everything in life
- Celebrates winning & uses losing as a motivator
- Serves to organize attendance in our program- each team’s captain takes roll
- Improves attendance in the summer- captains apply pressure to make sure all their team attends
- Serves to organize setup/cleanup of practice equipment (bags, water cart, cones, etc.)
- Reinforces the idea of family- helps freshmen to connect with older kids in the program
- Helps to prevent the hazing atmosphere that some programs have- where Seniors look down on younger classes
- Organizes jobs/duties in the off-season program- each team is responsible for something
- The FUN factor- don’t overlook this- we have FUN with our summer games
What is a Competitive Game? At the end of every off-season workout, we spend 15 minutes competing. Our entire program160 kids- is split into 8 families. Having 8 makes it easy to make every competitive game a bracket-style event. To get everyone involved, we come up with guidelines that will make sure all kids on each team compete at least once a day. For example, we keep Handball on Tuesdays a game of 5 on 5. To make sure everyone plays, we say that no athlete can sit out two games in a row. So, if they sit out round one, they must play in round two; or their team is automatically disqualified. Also, if a team is eliminated in round one; on the next day athletes who did not participate MUST be the first to be included.
Organization of Teams
How do we set this up? We start with coaches selecting potential captains. Anyone and everyone that we think is a potential captain is up for discussion. Our coaches settle on anywhere between 8-16 captains for the summer teams. This year we identified ten kids that have captain-potential. So, we picked our top 8 and allowed those 8 kids to select their co-captain. The remaining two kids that didn't quite make captain in the coaches' view, were some of the first "co-captain" picks. You can steer this as needed. Once we have a captain/co-captain for eight teams, we set a draft date following our first final exam date in May. Before the draft begins, captains select a team name with a "character trait" theme, and they also select what summer setup/cleanup jobs they want for the entire summer.