Coaching: Use Blowout Games to Develop New Skills

Coaching: Use Blowout Games to Develop New Skills

Dick Moss, Editor, PE

Many of you have experienced it. Half-way through a game against a weaker team, you're so far ahead that it's becoming a rout. In fact, even your second string is scoring at will.

While your players might be enjoying the game, it's not good sportsmanship to run up the score—and your players aren't learning a whole lot either. But don't think of the rest of the game as an uncomfortable waste of time. In fact, it's a golden opportunity to work on what author Jim Thompson calls “stretch goals.”

Stretch Goals
These are goals that your players haven't yet achieved and must extend themselves to reach. They might include skills they don't yet feel comfortable using during competitive situations, like a weak-hand drive in basketball, switch-hitting in baseball, or taking a backhand shot in hockey.

Blowouts are a golden opportunity to work on these skills. Once you've decided to work on stretch goals, set specific objectives for your players. For example, instruct your point guard to attempt three drives to the hoop with her left hand.

Emphasize that they shouldn't be concerned about the outcome because a failed attempt won't hurt the team.

Your players will learn to feel comfortable when using these new skills in a competition, and chances are the score will stay close enough so that it won't embarrass your opponents.

1. Jim Thompson, Shooting in the Dark, Warde Publishers, 1998.
2. Paige Turner, “How to Accomplish a Stretch Goal,”, 2009.

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