I often hear of coaches talking about fun martial arts games or karate games for kids. A common theme is when one coach talks about a drill they love and the other coach says ‘Yes, our students used to love that game but we haven’t played it for ages.’ This is often down to the fact that, other than the different martial arts techniques they have for each grade, they don’t have any of the other class content documented anywhere.
My suggestion is that you create a simple framework and document all the physical drills you know. This will give you an opportunity to create an actual system to help you not only deliver content that is in line with your session objectives, but also keep the sessions varied so you and the students don’t get bored of repeating the same content in the same way.
If you have aspirations of growing your club without having to teach all the classes yourself, it will also provide you with standardised content that you use to train new coaches. Once in place, it will also make it easier for coaches to cover each other’s session when someone was is ill or on holiday.
Documenting your children's martial arts drills
When you start documenting your repertoire of drills, consider the following 5 points to help you create a system that will be a massive time saver for years to come:
- Unique child friendly name
- Document the objective
- List the required equipment
- Allocate keywords
- Write coaching points
1. Unique child friendly name
You want each drill to have a child friendly name so just saying the name will create excitement in your students. If you are not great at naming the drills, ask the children. They have great imaginations and given the opportunity, they will come up with some great suggestions. You want the name to be unique so there is no confusion. If you have variations of the same drill, just create variation on the name. We have a Hungry Hippos agility game for the 5-6 year old Dragon programme that we call ‘Hungry Hippos (relay)’ and then another one for the Junior Taekwondo that we call ‘Hungry Hippos (wheelbarrow)’. We generally just use the first part of the name with the kids but in our plans, we would put the full name. If you have more than one coach at your club, using the same terminology will make delivering each other’s session plans much easier.
2. Document the objective
‘A confused mind does nothing’ is a quote used to describe the process that takes place when the next step is not abundantly clear. To avoid this, explain the objective of the drill to the children so they know what the ideal end result is. Once the children understand this, they will come up with different ways of achieving the result within the confine of the game. Sometimes you will see some surprising ingenuity.
3. List the required equipment
Make sure you document the equipment needed for each drill. This will help you streamline things as you progress and enable you to rule out drills that you don’t have the equipment for. Before you deliver each drill you want the equipment out and to hand but not within the reach of the children, as this will be a distraction if they are close enough to touch and play with it.
4. Allocate keywords
To make the future planning of sessions easier and more efficient, assign physical keywords to each drill to categorise your session content. Make sure you include the skills from the ‘8 MAPLE Physical Skills’ we covered in the free ‘MAPLE Session Planning Framework’ guide. If you haven’t download this yet, click on the link and get it now. If the drill covers more than one physical area, that fine, just add them. If you run separate classes for different ages, make sure you also tag each drill with an age group or programme name.
5. Write coaching points
For each drill, write down 2-3 coaching points. This is an activity that is ideal for discussion with other coaches and assistant coaches in your club / organisation. You may have more than 3 coaching points for each drill but only list a maximum of 3 against each. The working memory of children at this age can easily reach capacity and after this point, most new information is discarded.
OK, now you have a framework you can document all of the drills from your head and any you have written down on any random bits of paper you have. If you coach with other instructors, get them together and have a brain storming session to share ideas and build your repository of drills and games for the collective benefit of your martial arts classes.
Once you have documented all the drills you and your coaches know, don’t be afraid to look externally for more. Youtube is full of ideas for children’s games that you could incorporate into your children’s martial arts sessions. The main consideration is that you asses each drill to ensure it is appropriate for the age group you want to use it with, before you go through the documenting procedure set out above.
Remember when you are looking to add these drills to your kid’s martial arts classes, you should start your session plan with your session objectives. The majority of the drills and games you choose can then be themed under these objectives. Just randomly adding a generic obstacle course is so 2010. It’s time to evolve your kids programmes and be more purposeful with your session construction and delivery.