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11 Keys to Leading Sports Games and Recreational Activities

When leading a game or activity, the prepared leader will exhibit the following:

1. Know the group.
When leading a game or other activity for a group you need to know several things:

* What they enjoy
* How they interact
* Who any leaders are
* What they expect
* Physical abilities
* What they have been led to expect

2. Know the desired outcome.
Understand what the end result is expected to be. Is it just fun? Is it getting better acquainted? Is the result supposed to lead the group to grasp a concept or learn something? Is the activity leading into something else on the program? Should you leave the group energized or reflective? Knowing the desired outcome will help you plan your activities and be better prepared.

3. Be in control.
Speak loud enough for all to hear so you can lead. Stand where you can see and be seen. Know what is coming next – move from activity to activity smoothly and quickly so you don’t “lose” the group. Use a whistle if needed, but do not over use it. Ask other leaders to help with “crowd control” if the group is large.

4. Be flexible.
Be ready for all eventualities – rain, cold, heat, etc. with alternative plans. If it rains, be ready to either do “games that get people messy and wet” or have a place to move inside. This will mean that your activities will need to be ones that can be done inside or outside. If equipment does not show up or work properly, have alternative plans ready for activities without equipment or adapted equipment.

5. Be sensitive to individual needs.
Not all people are athletes or enjoy athletically oriented activities. Have a variety of games and activities planned for many areas of interest. If you have participants who have physical limitations, adapt the activities to make it easy for them to participate in.

6. Be enthusiastic.
Enthusiasm is contagious. Your tone of voice, your motions, your eye contact will pull participants into the action. If you start off saying, “I know you don’t like this, but” – they won’t like the activity. On the other hand, if you say with much enthusiasm, “This is going to be something everyone will enjoy!” with a smile and upbeat tone – most participants will gladly join in.

7. Have fun.
If you have fun, your participants will have fun!

8. Give clear instructions.
Make sure you know how to do the game or activity and that you can give the instructions so that everyone understands. Make sure they know:

* The point of the game/activity
* The rules of the game/activity
* What is expected of each participant
* Any special instructions if you are adapting a well-known game/activity

9. Allow people to work at their own paces.
If leading adventure games or other learning activities, let folks work things out themselves. Don’t rush them. The point of participating is not the outcome all the time. Often, participants learn more from the process of working through an activity.

10. Know when to end the activity.
Always end a game/activity at the apex of excitement. Each activity or game has a beginning phase when excitement rises. As the participation and excitement rises, there will be a time when it reaches a peak. Stop the activity and move to the next one at the peak of excitement. This will leave them wanting to play it again. Allowing the excitement and participation to begin to wane will lead to boredom with the activity.

11. Be a model.
If you want people to follow you and you know where you are going, you will model what you expect of your participants:

* Listening
* A positive attitude
* Giving praise
* Encouraging others

Happy leading!

This information is courtesy of the National Sports & Recreation Ministry Center, www.nsrmc.org.

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