So you coach Ninja classes and you're looking for fresh ideas?

You might ask for advice on Ninja Coach Facebook groups, look up YouTube videos of skills, chat with other Ninja coaches in your gym, or stare at a bunch of mats hoping you’ll come up with something clever and interesting. That last attempt always seems crazy – but you’re actually moving in the right direction. Sure, watching what others do can teach you… but how can you become a Ninja Coach that CREATES your own brilliant ideas?

What if it's all about how you THINK & PLAY?

While it is so important to observe others’ performances (creating a class experience and coaching the students), it’s even more important that you give yourself the opportunity to fail. That’s right – try weird things. Experiment. Repeat. Transforming your mindset as a Coach of children might just be the most critical skill-set of them all. How can you deliver a class experience to your Ninjas that will rock their worlds? Look at the world from their perspectives. 

Ninja Sports International is excited to provide the following steps (we’ll call them secrets since Ninjas are stealthily sneaky) so that Ninja Coaches around the globe can feel empowered and inspired as they become more creative and more confident.

Idea Inspiring Secrets

    Ninjas age 3 to 5 will need a Coach that speaks to how imaginative and colorful their world is. Using words they understand helps them feel more confident. Try replacing technical terms with silly phrases to help them remember each station's task within the rotation.
    For example - asking them to "stretch out their longest dragon tail" might be easier for them to remember and execute versus "make your back leg straight from a lunge position". In no time your dragons will be able to jump their long tails to the sky (and secretly learn the handstand you're wanting to teach them). Did one Ninja do something different than what you've asked them to do? Try saying, "WOW! That was a really cool idea. I like how you thought of doing that. Next time try doing it this way since you've already mastered the other way!"... because in Ninja class, we celebrate creativity and redirect effort to promote eventual growth.

    Ninjas age 6 to 8 have been in school and amongst peers regularly at this point. They are not only aware of how they fit into the group, but are also concerned with how others think and feel. Competitive spirits might be present due to other sports, video games, or the introduced concept of contests. Channeling that competitive drive and gearing it towards self-improvement is healthy. Try incorporating "self-challenges" that inspire the Ninjas to beat personal records rather than beating others.

    Ninjas age 9 & up might need a more "serious" you. Silliness can seem embarrassing and they desire someone "cool" to look up to. Ninjas this age notice how prepared you are, how you respond at all times, and how you are setting them up for the future (more difficult skills eventually). Talking to them about how the small steps along the way lead to more difficult (and impressive) skills encourages them to care about progressions and smaller details. You are in a constant leadership role with this age group - the Ninjas are learning from how you give corrections and challenge each student. Be sure to lead with enthusiasm, passion, positivity, and absolute care. The more they feel like you care about them, the more they feel like they can trust you. The more they trust you, the more impact you will have as you teach them to truly care themselves in every way.

     If you’re “stuck” staring at your equipment with frustration, WISHING you could come up with new ideas for class… give yourself just one hour of “limitless possibilities” brainstorming. Let’s pretend you now have a galactic helmet of eternal options. Do you feel less confined? Good - your creativity can now emerge and express itself how you’ve been dreaming it would.

    With this new mindset you can start to question boundaries you have made (unfortunately) when it comes to how mats can be used, which direction the class will flow, the lengths of time each station should take to complete, and more. You are most likely limiting yourself due to how often the world seems to demand that we follow directions and strive for perfection. Remind yourself - there is absolutely and never will be any speck of perfection in existence created by humans. So why are you expecting yourself to uphold impossible standards? Be kind to yourself and enjoy your unique expressions.
    Ask “what if…?” over and over again during your galactic helmet session.

    Look around and continue to daydream as if no one could ever tell you no. There - in that “what if?” mindset - you’ll encounter the vast creative potential which has always existed inside of you.

    If you’re struggling with believing that you “just aren’t creative”, and the limitless thinking practice mentioned above intimidates you, have peace in hearing that you are not alone. It’s common for us to become uncomfortable when there are too many options. When not prepared, our minds can convince us that we’re overwhelmed as we approach multiple opportunities and expect brilliant decisions to be made. Here’s another practice that clears your conscience and allows your thoughts to start small and grow outward: Limit your resources to a bare minimum. One mat, in one small area, no equipment, no props, and only your imagination. How many different skills could your ninjas do with this set-up? How many progressions for each of those skills? How many activities could they do that they would never expect? How many ways can you place the mat, in how many directions? What does the color of the mat make you think of? Who is a fun character that could use this mat if it were some other pretend object? How many characters could you think of once you decided which pretend object the mat could be?

    Take each question and ask them in every direction. Criss-cross ideas, mesh them together, flip-flop them, or turn them upside down. Pull them inside out, spin them 180 degrees, apply a red filter, adjust the temperature, add a “danger factor”, or insert the beat of a song. See, you are creative! Keep wondering and stay optimistic. Give yourself time and space to fully bloom.

    Sometimes when we set up ninja class, as we try to see the future and imagine how everything will look, we become overwhelmed. W
    e begin to wonder if there is some perfect picture, or painting, as the result of our class set-ups. In our minds, this painting is our class story that represents who we are as a coach and what we can create. With a belief such as this, it becomes critical to us that our "painting" (or class) would be flawless.

    As our minds attempt to place colors, lines, lights, objects, and more into our hopeful “paintings”, we begin to feel the pressure rising. The choices we are making become more important to us. We begin to realize the amount of details we would need to include (to guarantee that our painting would turn out perfect) are impossible to attain.
    So we want to be perfect - we want every aspect of our painting to be so perfect that not even one mistake could appear on either side of the canvas. We deeply fear even the thought of making mistakes. We became painters too scared to paint. We become coaches too scared to teach classes.

    Remember - there is no such thing as perfection. You are free to fail, and that is perfectly acceptable in the name of creativity. In fact, failure is necessary. If you never try new ways to make new creations, what then will you ever create? Play around with an idea and welcome mistakes. Mistakes almost always become the most brilliant discoveries along your creation journey. They'll make you laugh, too, which is so good for your spirit.