Every coach knows the joys of coaching in Summer but this soon becomes a distant memory as the colder months kick in. When working with children, it is so important that coaches deliver safe sessions that children are able to access all year round. So, how do you teach in wet & cold weather?
Get Them Moving! 🏃♂️
I remember coaching with another company where I had 12 four and five year olds with me for a 6pm-7.30pm football training session on one of the coldest nights of the year! We got through it, but I had to try and keep them moving from start to finish. I used a technique called whole-part-whole which is where you play matches, go into a different session and then back into matches. I always find that whatever sport you are playing, children are going to be most active during matches, so use this to your advantage. Either way, whatever you are doing the children need to be moving. Try to avoid:
Games with queues/lines
Group interventions where you ask everyone to stop
Complicated games that take time to explain
Any "out" games
Too many children in the same game, create another pitch if you need to
Wear Appropriate Clothing ❄
This one seems to be an obvious one but is so often missed by coaches when they get caught up in the session. There are two risks here; children getting too cold but also children overheating.
Cold: Children will need to be reminded to wear their hats and gloves if they are going to be in the cold and you have a responsibility to remind them to put their warm clothing on. I guarantee that parents will not be happy if at the end of the session you are making excuses for them not wearing their coat...
"I told everyone to put their coats on" - But my kid didn't do it, why didn't you tell them individually?
"He didn't tell me that he had a hat" - Well did you check? He is only 5!
"She didn't tell me that she was cold?" - It's pretty obvious, its -3 degrees!
Hot: How can a child get too hot in cold weather? Well if they are all wrapped up and start to get warmer throughout your session and don't take some of their warm clothing off you run the risk of that child getting overheated. This doesn't happen as often but you do need to keep an eye out for it!
Avoid Games That Involve Handling
The last thing you want to get a 5 year old doing in cold, wet conditions is to play a game that involves them having to keep handling/picking up an object that is having contact with the floor. Once a child gets cold hands it makes it a lot harder for you to encourage them to keep getting involved.
Try and stick to games where the ball stays on the floor like football or hockey. This might mean you need to tweak your game but unless all the children have big, thick, water proof gloves they are going to get cold hands playing games like basketball and rugby.
Know When To Call It ❌
It's great that you are doing everything you can to keep the kids engaged and safe but there is a point where the rain just gets too much for children to be outside in. Don't try and be the tough PE teacher that never comes in; the risk just isn't worth it. The best coaches will know in advance where they can go if the weather is bad and will have a plan for bad weather.
Some of the best inside games we like to use are:
Elephant football - A game where children stand in a circle with their feet touching each other. They need to try and roll a ball through someone else's legs.
Dance/Gym Routines - Using a small space ask children to create their own routine to show the class
Yoga - You don't need much space and it can be a great alternative for a multi-sports session
Dodgeball - if you have a hall available, children love dodgeball. Be sure to use soft balls!
Embrace The Weather & Enjoy Your Session! 😁
Don't let the weather get you down! You can't do anything about it and if you don't like coaching in the rain, maybe you need to consider moving out of England...! Genuinely, you are the kids role model and they will copy your attitude to the weather. If they see you being upbeat and having fun they will follow suit!
To keep up to date with what uSports are doing, be sure to follow our socials: