Become Their New Favorite Coach

sport performance training Apr 01, 2023

By: Hana Pokornowski


When was the last time you played a game at practice? Yeah, a random game that is just for fun.

It’s been awhile?! Well, let’s change that.


Games are such a great way to improve speed, agility, team camaraderie, and decision making abilities – also a great way to (re)ignite the spark and have some fun! By incorporating games into your practices, you enable the competitive atmosphere that athletes crave. You are allowing controlled chaos and uncoreographed movement. You challenge your athletes to complete a task to the best of their ability. Perhaps this task is abnormal compared to the asks of their sport – that’s okay! Leave the playbook on the bench for a few minutes and stray from the norm.


Check out these games we have been playing to add a competitive (and exciting) edge to our training sessions!


1: Crossy Roads

A combination of Sharks-and-Minnows and “Crossy Road”/”Frogger”. 

How to Play: Divide up a field into 3 equal sections with cones or other markers. Designate one athlete to be the “tagger” in each of these sections – taggers cannot leave their section. Divide up the rest of the players into two equal groups and have each section starting on separate ends of the field. When the whistle blows, athletes on each end of the field run through the sections, trying not to get tagged. If a player gets tagged, they become an additional “tagger” in that section. Go until there is one person remaining. 

Variations: Can add flag belts to the runners, when one or both flags are pulled, they become a tagger in the section that they last got tagged in. Add in a “safe” zone between the sections with taggers. Can do more sections with more taggers depending on group size.


2. Hungry Hungry Hippos

Like the childhood board game! 

How to Play: Divide up your athletes into equal teams. Have them start at a baseline (either at the same line or opposite of each other). Scatter cones/balls randomly throughout a section on the field. On the whistle, each team sends out one person to retrieve a cone and bring it back to the baseline. They then tag the next athlete in line and they do the same. Collection continues until the last cone is claimed. Count up the cones and the team with the most wins. 

Variations: Can play this game as individuals (no teams). Can use a variety of equipment (Medballs, KettleBells, Hula Hoops, Big Cones, Little Cones, etc. Get Creative!). Can have athletes grab from a middle circle with defenders (can add flags or tagging to this option too so that there is a way for the defenders to win).


3. FIT-Tac-Toe

Tic-Tac-Toe but you have to earn your mark! Mini-game style competitions. 

How to Play: Divide up your athletes into equal teams. Draw a few tic-tac-toe boards on a whiteboard. Play team vs team mini-games. Whatever team wins the competition, gets to put a mark on the board. After there is a winning board, have a list of punishments that that winning team can pick from for the other team to complete.


Competition Examples: Longest Wall-Sit, Push-Up ISO, Plank, Squat ISO, Farthest Cumulative Team Broad Jump, Most Shots Made (soccer, basketball, etc.), Fastest Relay 


4. Balloon Keep-It Up

What kids (and adults) play whenever they see a balloon!

How to Play: Just as it sounds! You can play this game with one person or split into teams and have teams compete for time or hits. You can have multple balloons that you have to run between. 


Variations: Have teams compete. Add obstacles. Make rules. Add in a defensive component. The options are endless!

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A post shared by Inspired Athletx (@inspiredathletx)


BONUS! Balloon Soccer

Split players into two teams and each team has a goal. I let my athlete use their hands to keep the balloon up – the only rule I usually have is that they cannot carry the balloon. Try to make the balloon in goal! Score as many goals as you can in a set amount of time.


Start out with minimal rules and see how it goes, then make adjustments as you see fit! Get creative and LET THEM PLAY!


View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Inspired Athletx (@inspiredathletx)


View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Inspired Athletx (@inspiredathletx)


Want other ideas on games and warm-ups that you can incorporate into your training and practice? Check out our Instagram @inspiredathletx.


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