The elementary intramural program is great for developing your overall athletic talent. If your school is big enough, opening intramural leagues for your sports programs will increase participation and improve the overall competition level. You can read more about how this happens in Part 1 of this article. Today, however, we’re going to look three other points that make intramurals more beneficial than having one school team.
Today we’ll look at the details involving coaching, development, and logistics in developing intramural athletic programs in your school.
This is where intramurals can get tricky. You need coaches for your six to eight teams. We would recommend talking to teachers, parents, and alumni. Give others a chance to get involved in the athletic program.
Obviously, if you’re bringing in volunteers than you’re probably not dealing with a high level of coaching ability. There are some great volunteer coaches out there, but for the most part you’ll be dealing with novices.
This is where school teams have the benefit. Intramurals present a problem in this area.
School teams have one coach who usually has a good handle on what the players need to learn and how to teach it to them.
Old Suwanee tackled this problem by having their varsity assistant coaches instruct all the players at one time for forty-five minutes during practices. These experienced coaches worked on fundamentals. After the forty-five minutes was up, the players then went with their coaches and teams to a basket for the remaining thirty minutes to work on inbounds plays, defense, etc.
What truly matters is that the players in an intramural program are receiving fundamental instruction. What better way than to get them all together at one time to learn from your staff coaches?
The number one priority of everyone in your intramural department must be developing every player. Coaches shouldn’t be concerned with only their team. They should be focused on developing every player at any opportunity.
If you have some coaches that teach a certain skill exceptionally well, then why not give them time to instruct all the players in that skill?
Would you rather develop your top six elementary players (school team) or all of your elementary players (intramural program)?
Obviously, intramurals isn’t a perfect system. It has flaws just like the school team system. However, in Christian schools, we need to look at the big picture. Good athletes are often lured away to “better” programs. If you develop a kid on school teams from fourth grade and he leaves in ninth grade, who do you have stepping in to replace him? In the school team system, it’s probably the sixth or seventh man that has been the sixth or seventh man since fourth grade.
Also, if you focus on developing all your players, then when kids hit the school team system in junior high you have a more developed bottom half of the team.
Any coach would value a strong bench if for no other reason than to make his starters better in practice every day.
Intramural programs certainly sound to be a logistical nightmare. They don’t have to be.
At Old Suwanee the basketball intramural league took place from late February until the end of March. This is after most youth basketball leagues had ended and before little league really got up and going.
All teams would practice on Tuesdays and Thursday from dismissal until 4:45. They practiced together (clinic style) for forty five minutes with staff coaches. Then they practiced as teams for thirty minutes with their coach.
Games were on Saturday morning from 8:00-12:00 sometimes 1:00 depending on the size of the league. Every team played each other once. Some seasons required a double header at least once.
A tournament was held on either a Friday night or Saturday morning at the end of the season. The winner’s coach would get to keep the trophy in their classroom (since it was usually a teacher) until next season.
Logistically it is possible. You just need to be creative.
The Ideal Situation
Hopefully, through this article you’ve seen the value of an intramural program in a Christian school. However, we too see the benefits to having an elementary team.
Currently at Victory, we have the school team system. However, we want to do more with our younger, less-experienced athletes.
Our long term goal is to eventually have a fifth/sixth grade elementary team for the best players in those grades. The remaining elementary players would play in our intramural program.
We’d like to have the best of both worlds in order to help all of our elementary students develop into the best athletes possible.
What does your school currently do for elementary sports?