Adapting to Changes

After six months of planning, waiting, struggling, and refusing to give up we were able to restart our Floorball programs during the COVID-19 era. Since March of 2020 we, like so many, have been at a full stop regarding sports programming. Yet thankfully this fall we were able to run programs for kids in our area. It looks different, but it’s still Floorball.

This last Saturday we launched the first of our six week fall program. This marks the fourth year that we’ve been able to offer this program in our community. There was no guarantee that it would happen, and even leading into the first week it was still somewhat on the fence.

The biggest hurdle was location. With so many facilities closed due to COVID-19 restrictions the pool of available facilities was whittled down to just one. Having called around the community to just about any facility I could think of I was fortunate to be able to find one location. That location happened to be at the University I work at.

If you’re not aware I run a fitness facility, but due to COVID-19 I’m not even allowing outside groups into the building to focus our efforts and space on the students. However, the neighboring facility was opening to allow outside groups for the fist time. As an outside group looking to run programs I jumped on the opportunity.

The assumption was that parents would quickly jump at the opportunity to get their kids into some activity. I was right and wrong about that. Due to State guidelines, and the facility, we require everyone to wear masks. We also implemented a number of safety policies to help ensure safety for all during the program. This created a conflict for some as they don’t like wearing masks. That stopped people from coming, while on the other hand it gave parents some sense of security to sign up.

Despite the numerous hurdles placed in front of us to run this program we were able to overcome all of them. To get back on the court teaching was a blast for everyone involved. We’ve adapted what and how we teach, and it’s not easy, but certainly doable.

Here’s what we’ve learned so far

Find the right mask. It’s out there, and when you find the right mask it’s less of a bother. In the end it becomes less of a distraction, and by modeling it properly shows kids that it’s not a big deal. Again, most people understand the plight of the mask, and are happy to comply knowing that without it the program doesn’t happen.

One of the challenges with a mask is that it can make it hard to hear. In a large open space with a larger group this can certainly be challenging. To get around this we purchased a wireless headset and speaker off of amazon, which will cost $30-50 depending on what you get. This was a lifesaver as kids and parents were able to hear directions easily during the program. If you’re running programs this is highly recommended.

A lot of our direction through teaching involves a whistle or some sort of sound. With a mask on it’s pretty difficult to manage a whistle while teaching. To get around that we used an electronic whistle. This handheld device worked perfectly, though it does create some challenges while holding a stick and trying to demonstrate skills at the same time. Transitioning to a neck lanyard should hopefully fix this.

One safety measure we put in place was requiring kids to have their own stick. Normally we provide them as part of our program. With each kids having a stick this helped cut down on cleaning and also contact with each other. The long term benefit to this is that every kids has a stick at home to continue to practice. Giving them more things to work on will help them improve, build confidence, and ideally want to continue playing Floorball.

If you’re looking to start some programming right now and you’re dealing with restrictions know that it’s all possible. It takes planning, thought, and a willingness to adapt to the new changes that are in front of you.