Develop Athleticism with Backyard Games

Hidden Gems in the BackYard

When I was a kid we use to play backyard games like Jarts, croquet, Bocce Ball, and games we made up; target practice by throwing rocks at cans on a wall, home run derby with a ping pong ball and paddle, and so many other games.

The athleticism we talk about in today’s athletes is mostly seen with their physical stature and actions (big, strong, fast, jumping..). What many of us developed because of activities we created on our own or known activities like Jarts was touch, feel, pace, differentiation of distance and strength required to “get it there”. We learned how to transfer these skills and abilities to live court and field sports.

Many of you have seen the games I have made up with my own children when they were little.

A few examples:

  1. Catch a tennis ball inside a cone.
  2. Touch the “birdie”/shuttlecock with a racket after I would hit it a mile high in the air.
  3. Roll a ball at a certain speed and they had to roll their ball to hit mine.

All these activities are designed to teach a part of athleticism that can be game-changers in sport.

Some athletes are so fast and or quick they can cover ground instantly, but they get to the point of making a play and have no control with their hands or no touch or feel. They have no timing, therefore they over run the play. Or if a teammate is open, they don’t understand the relationship of how hard they have to pass/kick the ball so it meets the teammate where they are going to be based on their current speed and path. These skills become developed at a young age and become a foundation skill of which the more specific skills can build off.

When I taught PE teacher, I would tape various size targets on the wall and have the students try to throw or kick a ball and hit the target. I would make students throw or kick with both their right side and left side, with one hand passes and two hand passes, with overhead and overhand throws, as well as underhand and sidearm throws. IT ALL MATTERS!

The most important quality of backyard games is kids love them and have fun, so they spend more time playing them.

To those youth coaches who are all about the sports specific actions and running plays, you are missing out on the greatness of athleticism when you don’t introduce activities that require “feel”.

Go have fun!

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