If you’re running a jump rope team, creating a mentorship program is a great way to maximize the learning potential for your jumpers. While we were filming our PE curriculum and Team information, one topic that Coach Hager and I focused on is the idea that assigning an older jumper to each new skipper on your team can do wonders for both of them.
Coach Hager has been using this on his team for years. We never had a set version of this on the team I was part of, though we did utilize some of the concepts in teaching newer jumpers. However, a few years back I was doing some shows in New Zealand and ran across a school that used this with all of their students. Every younger student (K, 1, 2) had an older “buddy” (3, 4, 5) that was teamed up with them. This buddy would eat with them at lunch, help them with some homework, play with them at recess, etc. After visiting over 2,000 schools around the world, this one had an atmosphere that was unlike any I have seen. It felt more like a family than just a bunch of kids. In fact, the director of the school mentioned that they really have almost no problems with bullying since the older kids would always watch out for the younger ones. My wife and I both said that it would almost be worth moving there just for that school if we had kids.
Why can’t a jump rope team feel like that? Let’s say that you have a new jumper who is young and walks into a practice without having any idea of what to do. It can be very intimidating, stressful and, depending on the size of your team, it’s possible they might not get all the attention they need from you. They might try to fit in, but it’s possible they may not have the best experience (based on their personality). If this goes on for a number of practices, it’s possible they might decide that jump rope really isn’t the sport for them. On the flip side, what if that same jumper has a friend on the team? What if they get greeted at the door as they enter practice that first day? What if they have someone to guide them through practice and help them get into the flow? What if they got introduced to a bunch of new people without having to really put themselves out there? Assigning each new jumper a mentor that has been a part of your program for a while can make their experience on your team easy and fun. It can make your team feel like a family.
In the video below, we discuss all these ideas and why they work. We also talk about how to set standards for your mentors so that you know everyone is getting the type of experience you want them to have. Give it a think and you might find that this is the perfect setup for your jumpers!