How I Structure My Practices for the Year – Part I

I divide the students into teams.

  • At the start of the year, the returning players vote for captains.
  • Four or five captains are selected to head four teams. The rest of the kids are split into the four teams, with the idea of making balanced teams, in terms of age, male/female balance, and competitive balance.
  • Once the captains are announced, teams gather together to pick a team nickname. This is usually a raucous practice.
  • Whenever we are learning new items, the kids gather in the teams so that the older kids on each team can help teach the younger kids.

Once a week (Friday for us) during the year, we hold an in-school tournament.

  • At the start of the year, players are arranged at tables against opponents from the other teams.
  • Kids move from table to table week to week through bumping (kids that win move up a table, kids that lose move down). Opponents change every week.
  • We keep standings throughout the year, both individually and by team. At the start of each practice, kids often eagerly await the posting of the updated standings.


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