If you’ve ever been involved in coaching junior sport, at some stage you come up against the player of the day scenario, and if you do it long enough, you begin to realise it’s a system that the kids see through and doesn’t help with their development at all, so I’ve totally gone away from player of the day and bought in chocolate fish challenges.
The idea behind the chocolate fish challenge is rather than rewarding children for participating or being there, I start rewarding them for trying the skills we’re learning at practice and trying them in games. It doesn’t mean they will get a chocolate fish each week, but if done right, they will get one or two most weeks.
It’s a new concept I’ve developed, and I’ve got a bit of tweaking to do to it, though I’m sure I can refine it down like everything else I’ve done.
The interesting thing is, I explained to the kids why I don’t do player of the day, then explained the chocolate fish challenge, and they went, this is cool and by game day they were excited about it.
Sheldon Training Penny With Chocolate
For the skills I want to develop in the players, I’ve set some basic rules for the Chocolate Fish Challenge, the first time they try to do a skill in a game, they get a chocolate fish, and they’ll get another chocolate fish the second time they try to do that particular skill, for a maximum of two chocolate fish per skill that I’ve set out for them to learn and try.
I keep a record of the chocolate fish awarded and when everyone in the team has done a particular skill during games twice, then everyone gets a chocolate fish for that skill. The skill being encouraged doesn’t have to be done all in one game, the skill being tried maybe spread out over 2 or 3 games, because the thing I am encouraging them to do is to try and do the skills.
So it’s got me into thinking about the small challenges I can set them later on as individuals and pairs during a game, to improve their skills and get the players working together during games.
As I also said to them, I’m not really worried about the score in a game, I want to see them learning, improving and trying the skills and different things in a game.
The thing about the chocolate fish challenge is that I’m not rewarding players just for turning up, which is what player of the day is really about, I’m rewarding for effort and encouraging a player’s growth mindset.
The thing about player of the day, that if done properly, the same 2 or 3 people should get player of the day every week, rather than you’ve had your turn, and even though you were the best player today and scored 5 goals, it’s someone else’s turn for player of the day. The adults are blind to it, but the kids see through it.
So if you’re sick of Player Of The Day, and can see how politically correct and tiresome it is, try the Chocolate Fish Challenge and see how your players respond