Stimulating Competition

  • September 10, 2014

Coach Responses

As a coach, how do you approach simulating competition during practice?

Share your tips and best practices!

Coach Jackie Smith– Basketball – Toronto – 10 Years

“Simulating competition is a process and art and all about the rivalry.

To replicate the intensity, speed, the tenacity of a game environment is very challenging. My approach begins on day 1 and takes time to create. Beginning to create a culture of healthy competitiveness, rivalry and challenge is key to simulating game day. Similar to the intrinsic drive and motivation of Magic Johnson vs Larry Bird, neither player would be outworked by the other, the same mindset and drive need to be created in your practice. To create an environment where players can compete, challenge, develop rivals in an appropriate, sportsmanship like and respectful environment is about education, opportunity and matching skill to challenge.

Players begin with being introduced to an opportunity to compete within parameters of team and sportsmanship like principles with appropriate matchups. Over time ensure that the dynamics of the competitors foster challenge and skill development. As time goes on this dynamic if managed properly will foster a relationship where players push each other and challenge each other and thus a rivalry ensues. These rivalries will create a game-like intensity, speed and tenacity that coaches love to see. To replicate the environment. Loud music. Spectators at practice. Adapt equipment. Modify the setting to suit the situation you are trying to mimic.”

Coach Mike Miller – Soccer  – Milton/Halton – 25+ Years

“The use of Global-Analytical-Global methodology is gaining traction in soccer. So is the use of functional practices, phase of play practices and the use of small-sided games. Let the game be the teacher. Recreate situations that happen in a game in your practices, in the parts of the field where they typically happen. Make sure that the practice is orientated the same way as the game (from end to end rather than going from sideline to sideline). The unconscious reading of visual cues is important for player development. Have the players use the ball as much as possible, including in their warm-up and their cool down.”

Coach Mike Hogg – Basketball –Norfolk County – 47 Years

End of close game foul shooting can be an intimidating experience for the young athlete. So during practice, we make sure we try to re-create an anxiety-producing environment for the athlete.

“Near the end of the practice, when the athletes are somewhat fatigued, we have a refereed controlled scrimmage. When a foul occurs, we follow this procedure:

We set the scoreboard to a one, two, or zero point difference, line up the athletes properly at the foul line and have the parents and any other on-lookers make encouraging (or discouraging) noises. Then all is very silent during the shot. We can add other distractions as we see fit.

Our athletes have been trained to focus only on their routine for shooting foul shots, and block out any distractions, whether external or internal and, for us, this is a great way to practice this skill.”

Coach Brenda Lanois – Trampoline/Gymnastics – Pembroke – 28 Years

“In the weeks leading up to a competition, the athlete will perform their routines and be marked on them as if they were actually at a competition. From there, they will perform their routines before all the other gymnasts and trampolinists in the gym. They will officially be introduced and walk onto the trampoline, they will acknowledge the “judges”, perform their routines, stop and address the audience, and leave as if they were at a competition.”

Coach Colin Walker – Volleyball – Ottawa – 30+ Years

“Every drill ends with a goal to be met. Sometimes the athlete is against themselves (beat your previous best), sometimes groups are against each other (first to a set number wins, which group can go the longest, etc..) or a full team drill where a specific goal needs to be met to end the drill. Also, small-sided games are used regularly with a variety of consequences for losing or winning. End of every practice we have some form of competition to see you will be taking down the net. In the past, I have created a ladder where we post results from serving reception practice stats, serving stats, etc… We constantly talk about challenging yourself to improve to embrace the competition versus fearing it. You’re not always going to win but you can always try to put your best effort forward to see what will happen. That is your biggest competition, consistency in putting your best effort forward. It is the only thing the athlete can fully control.”

Coach Jodi Gram – Basketball – Markham – 10 Years

“Every “drill” is planned to fit into the bigger picture. We do drills in which players understand the context of where, why and when it is taking place. This allows me as the coach to hold them to very specific standards that have been set and are mutually understood on what those actions should look like and sound like. Error detection and correction is not in the abstract, but is immediately transferable instead, and is more likely to show up in real game situations because it has been meaningfully practiced.”

Coach Neale Gillespie – CAC – Ottawa – 20 Years

“Competition simulations are a great tool to work on developing a competitive edge and decision making under pressure. During any activity in a training session, the competitive environment can be simulated. Simple things like increasing speed or intensity, closing down space, or adding additional options for increased decision making are all part of simulating the competitive environment. Ensuring the training environment replicates the competitive one is essential as well. For example, training in a loud environment and competing in a quiet one can be challenging for athletes. Pay attention to the little things. The key is relating everything you do to a game-like setting. Competition is inherent in the sport. Take advantage of it in your training!”

Coach Brock Ross – Running  – Toronto – 2 Years

“Occasionally throwing in some friendly races and competitions among a team can be a good simulation when you’re dealing with a highly competitive personality of some athletes. Also working on visualization techniques is always important.”

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