Coaching Principle #25 ‘Make it Fun, include comedy, stories and games’

Play is more than Fun – Stuart Brown

For those of you who are Fitness trainers and performance based coaches, making your sessions fun will increase the engagement factor for clients, athletes and group fitness. We can even bring this into the classroom and look to make learning fun and applicable. After all, compliance via methods typically based on reward and punishment are outdated and do not contribute to the intrinsic motivation switches that turn bored kids into enthusiastic and curious creatures that they are.

The whole notion of the fun factor in fact, was something that Dr Stuart Brown investigated among animals and then small children. I encourage you to watch his TED talk https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HHwXlcHcTHc

Others have taken the fun factor and successfully included games into their sessions. PTA Global is one such organisation that has adopted Dr Brown’s studies and applied it into the health and fitness space. For those of you who know him, my friend and fellow professional Ian O’Dwyer (OD) is a big proponent of play and fun, using strategies from clients with cerebral palsy to older adult populations. Watch Ian in action here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kfgMpoI-muI

At FTI Global, an organisation I co-founded, we integrate games into our courses and workshops to highlight to up and coming personal trainers the importance of play and fun. We call it the ‘gamifcation of movement’. The end result is more laughter, engagement, and exploring the wonderful benefits of including games into sessions.

We may just go one step further and begin to incorporate comedy and stories in relating movement and contextualising it to the journey the client or athlete has with you. One method that FTI Global incorporates and borrows off the work of Nick Winkleman of coaching and communication, is looking at a type of complex movement such as a hip hinge, a primal movement pattern. Instead of communicating the movement to clients in our traditional internal method we can get them visualising as follows:

Imagine getting out of the car with both hands full of shopping bags. It is difficult to use your hands to close the door so you bend and nudge shut the door with the meat of your buttocks. What have you performed here? Yes, a hinge!

In a later principle, we will look into mindfulness and movement and how this reflects the way we get client’s and athletes thinking about performance rather than ‘mindlessly’ going about a fitness and conditioning routine’. Whilst games, stories and comedy may work to increase the engagement among clients and athletes, training them to be mindful as they go about their exercise routines is paramount.

Coach’s Tip:

Whilst there is a temptation to overkill the ‘gamifcation’ of movement; as coaches, we need to ensure the relevance and context of including games, stories and comedy into our training environment.

Here’s a tip! After designing your sessions for your client, group or team, think of some engaging games that will look to enhance coordination, complexity and in effect the challenge that including games will bring.

Assess the relevance of comedy and stories and contextualise them to the client’s needs. That is to say, be mindful of the habits, likes, preferences and stories that each client or athlete tells you. This is a sign of a skilled coach: one who understands the needs and wants of the clients and balances them with a combination of methods that will increase engagement and ultimately the results of the client and athlete.

Reference: PTA Global; Stuart Brown

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coach Tarek

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