“We have several twirlers who are very dedicated and love baton twirling who practice all the time, but there are others who like baton and don’t practice outside of class. What is a good way to teach and inspire our twirlers to practice more outside of class? We have tried practice charts to earn rewards and prizes, we have routine checks, even all-star of the month.”
Motivating children and young adults in our present society is a challenging task. They have been raised in a society of video games and texting. They are accustomed to instant reward which makes repetition of a trick/routine a difficult sell. If they catch a trick one time, they’re excited and think they have mastered the skill.
There are certainly different personality types to be considered. Those who are competitive by nature enjoy that aspect of twirling. Some enjoy the social aspect of the sport, and others are excited about the performance, the costumes, the “bling.” Motivating a twirler to practice harder, practice consistently or drill a skill means that the coach has to “push the right button” for that particular twirler.
Competitive personalities are easy because they are usually self-motivated. They’re the ones who will try to earn stickers and fill in practice charts. Social personalities probably enjoy group twirling versus solo twirling and are difficult to motivate to practice outside of class. You might try pairing up twirlers and encouraging them to practice together. Those who like the performance often like to make up their own routines to music of their choice. You might make this a week’s assignment – tell them to choreograph a routine to music of their choice and make a list of certain skills you want included. They might be motivated to practice this routine so that they can perform it flawlessly in class.
Parental support and encouragement is a necessity to see that practice happens. No matter what motivational technique you use, the parent must be supportive, must make sure the time and facility (if necessary) can be a part of the twirler’s daily schedule. Encourage the parent to be involved, not necessarily to watch the entire practice but to ask the twirler to perform a skill for the parent at the end of practice. The twirler should be made to feel that practice paid off and earned a parent’s praise.
Twirlers often think of practice as a long, grueling session which keeps them from doing other things. Always reinforce that practice can be short as long as it is productive and consistent. Make practice goals attainable.
And remember, if you’re successful with any type of motivation, please share it with the rest of us. We all need help and new ideas when it comes to motivating practice!