How To Make Cold Winter Trainings Fun
“It’s cold and miserable. My fingers are freezing, and my toes hurt. Why on earth would I want to go to training?”
Every winter sports coach has experienced their athlete’s desire to train fade as the colder months take over. However, if we can focus their attention on having fun training rather than how cold it is, we can overcome the winter training blues.
Here are some tips that you can use to keep your training sessions fun and engaging even during the coldest nights.
Start with a bang!
Start your warmup with energy and enthusiasm to really get your athlete’s blood flowing. Forget lines or running laps. Instead, play a high-energy fun game where your athletes must keep moving. This could be a game of tag or variations of it, such as Jump tag or Amoeba tag. Other games you could consider are Mirroring and Dance party.
These games involve constant movement and focus. Which will ensure that your athlete’s minds are not thinking about how cold they are. They will also get your athlete’s blood pumping which will have them warmed up and ready for training.
Keep them moving
Once you have your athletes warmed up, you need to keep them there. Throughout the rest of your training session minimise standing around. That includes standing around listening to your instructions and standing at the back of the line waiting for their turn.
To minimise time spent giving instructions in the cold you can use two strategies. The easiest is to use training drills and games that everyone is familiar with. This will allow everyone to jump straight into the next activity without it having to be explained to them.
The other option would be to explain all your activities to your players before training begins inside a warm room. This will give you a chance to explain what they need to do and why without them getting cold in the process. Remember, however, to keep it simple. As the more complex it is, the less likely your athletes will remember what to do when they begin.
To minimise time standing at the back of the line you could focus more on small-sided games. This is a great way to keep everyone involved all the time and ensure they are always active and getting the most out of training.
If you must have lines for certain drills, put some balls or something of the like at the back of the line and give everyone a task to complete while they are waiting for their turn. This might be 5 short passes with someone else in the line, or it could be a quick workout, ie 5 push-ups. You’ll want to make sure it’s nice and quick so that it doesn’t become boring, and allows your athletes to be ready when it’s their turn to be active in the main drill again.
Create games between drills
When one drill or game finishes and you call an end to it, include a game or race that transitions them from one drill to the next. For example, when a drill finishes you blow your whistle twice. When your athletes hear that, they must race to get a drink and then return to you ready for the next drill.
Another idea could be to play a variation of the Amoeba tag game. You can partner everyone up at the start of training and upon your whistle, they must find their partner and link arms. Once they have linked arms, they attempt to tag anyone who hasn’t linked arms with their partner yet. If they tag someone, that person becomes part of their group for the end of the next drill. Ie all three must find each other.
Introduce a chant
Empower your leaders to drive the energy of your training session. Ask them to keep the team motivated and energised and if they see others starting to lose focus, start a chant to get everyone back in focus. You can find a lot of chants via a simple google search. Or you may already have one you use for game day. Either way, introduce something at training to get your athletes back in the zone when they start to lose focus.
Here is an example of a chant perfect for those cold winter nights.
Team leader: Pump, pump, pump it up!
Team: Pump, pump, pump it up!
Team leader: Pump that [Team Name] spirit up!
Team: Pump that [Team Name] spirit up!
Team leader: Keep, keep, keep it up!
Team: Keep, keep, keep it up!
Team leader: Keep that [Team Name] spirit up!
Team: Keep that [Team Name] spirit up!
Have a specific training purpose or goal
Create a specific purpose for each training session. When it’s cold, sometimes training can feel like a drag. But if you have a specific goal you are trying to achieve for the session, this can motivate your athletes to put in the effort required to make the session a success.
Ensure you clearly explain to your athletes what the purpose or goal of this training session is. And how achieving the goal will benefit them. Then continue to remind them throughout the session. And if possible, give them progress updates to show them how far they are from achieving their goal.
These tips should help you create a more energetic training session, which will ensure your athletes don’t have time to be cold. Remember this simple philosophy. Keep them moving and keep them busy.
If you have any other suggestions for how you energise your winter training sessions, share them in the comments.