How Coaches Can Quickly Organise Kids Into Groups

3 Top Tips For Getting Kids In Formation Fast Without the Frustration

Often when working with young athletes you will need to put the kids into groups to perform an activity. If not done well, this task can become chaotic.

Kids are generally poor at organising themselves into any type of formation. Whether this is in lines, in a circle, finding a partner, or getting into a small group, it often requires a great deal of direction and assistance from the coach. The kids’ lack of urgency and tendency to get distracted easily can really slow the momentum of a session and cause a lot of frustration for the coach.

Have some plans in place for quickly and efficiently organising the kids into the formation you require. Otherwise, your learning session will be spent getting ready to start activities rather than actually doing the activities.

Below are three tips that will help:

Tip 1: Use Games & Competitions

Incentives will help to motivate kids to organise themselves quickly. Therefore try turning the forming of groups into a game, challenge, or fun competition.

This can be as simple as the kids scoring points for their team for being organised quickly. Keep a cumulative total throughout a session. I have often announced a “champion lining up team” competition to good effect.

Another idea is to use games that result in the kids ending up in the required formation. E.g. “Jog about the playing area. When I blow my whistle and call out a number, you need to as quickly as possible get into a group with that many people in it ”. This concept can also be used to get kids in lines and circles.

Click here to find some more examples of “formation games”.

Tip 2: Use Countdowns

“Count Downs” are when the coach challenges a group of kids to organise themselves within a time limit or to beat a certain time.

For example:

“When I say ‘GO’, by the time I count to ‘THREE’ I want you to find a partner. Ready? Go! 1…2…3!”

“In a moment, the class will have 10 seconds to be lined up. Ready? Go! 10…9…8…, etc.”

“When I say ‘GO’, let’s see how quickly we can line up in our teams again. Ready? Go! 1…2…3…4…, etc.”

“Our best-ever time for forming a circle is 8 seconds. Let’s see if we can beat that today. Ready . . . Go!”

Count downs are a wonderful way to disguise a group management strategy behind a challenge that the kids enjoy.

Tip 3: Group By Colours

I see many coaches “number off” groups of kids, which I don’t think is the best way to go about it.

For example, if they have twenty kids and need five groups with four kids in each group, they will give each person a number. Each young athlete will then have to remember that number or stand behind a marker that corresponds with that number.

This is so confusing for the kids. The younger they are the more confused they will get. Some will forget their number and some will forget which marker corresponds with which number.

It is far easier to give the kids a colour and send them to that colour.

Let me explain, using the above example. Imagine that you want the kids to line up in five groups of four athletes. Using the strategy that I am recommending, you place out five different coloured cones – let’s say red, blue, green, orange, and white. You then give the kids one of those colours rather than a number.

I have found this to be by far the best strategy for grouping young athletes quickly and efficiently.

Even better is if you can “dress up” an activity by colour-coordinating the equipment being used during the activity. E.g. The blue team gets a blue relay baton, the red team gets a red relay baton, etc.

Colour-coordinated cones and equipment

Summary

Three top tips for quickly organising kids into groups are:

  1. Use Game & Competitions
  2. Use Count Downs
  3. Group By Colours

Of course you can try combining any or all of the above three strategies for a super-effective result!

Over To You!

The next time you need to organise kids into groups, try using one, or a combination, of the above strategies. I would love to hear the result. Also, if you have any other tips for quickly organising groups that you would like to share, you can leave a reply/comment, or contact me on the below details.


If this post helped you please take a moment to help others by sharing it on social media. If you want to learn more I encourage you to leave questions and comments or contact me directly.


Darren Wensor is a sports development professional, coach educator, specialist coach of young athletes, and founder of the blog coachingyoungathletes.com. Learn more about him here and connect with him on TwitterFacebookLinkedin, or via email. Check out Coaching Young Athletes on YouTube, the Coaching Young Athletes podcast, and the Coaching Young Athletes E-Book Series.

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