While teachers and parents have settled into homeschooling, as a coach, you may be feeling helpless and unsure of how you can support your athletes right now. It might be tempting to simply shut down the team for the season, but there are many ways to keep a team practicing and communicating so that when a return to sport happens, your team comes back stronger than ever.
Here, coaches and experts around the U.S. weigh in on how you can work with your team when in-person practices and games aren’t happening.
1. Host virtual practices
Sabrina Alimi, a lacrosse coach in New York City, N.Y, is still hosting virtual practices for her high school and youth league teams. There are plenty of easy ways to do this online, from Zoom to Google Hangouts to FaceTime. Her virtual practices don’t involve actual playing, but they’ll be invaluable for the girls when they’re back on the field—so much so that she and the other local coaches have decided to permanently continue hosting virtual practices in place of some in-person sessions, since they’re easier to organize and a great way to dig into smaller skills.
Alimi’s practices include a 10-minute warm-up and then she picks a sport-specific topic to dig into, such as defense, transitions, and team concepts that normally would get broken down on a whiteboard at a practice. Finally, she plays a video of an old game, pausing to talk with players about the tactics being used or what a player might be thinking.
2. Understand limitations
While you may live in an area where it’s easy to get out for a jog, not all your athletes will have the same options. “In NYC, our biggest problem is kids not being able to go outside and practice at all,” says Alimi. “Many kids on my high school team said their parents aren't even letting them out for walks because of the risk.” If you’re recommending 30-minute runs four times a week, create alternative options for the athletes who can’t get outside to run. The same applies to backyard drills when some athletes live in apartment complexes.