Junior Sailing has to be FUN!

This might seem like a “duh” moment but it is important to understand. This article is about kids and sailing, but it applies for adults too. It is typical for a group of sailing students to develop their skills at different rates. Getting the basic skills is important. You’ll see that some students get out there, they get it right away, and then are immediately racing to make sure they are in first place. That’s great! But it isn’t the learning path for everyone.

The danger here is for the students that are more casual about racing, the can get discouraged and worse, disinterested. So how do you avoid this trap?

If you encourage different drills that focus more on boat handling than on going fast and rounding marks you can teach without teaching! There are myriads of fun and easy drills that aren’t racing and don’t even keep score. Here are a few:

  • Net-Ball – Throw tennis balls into a confined area. Kids sail around and pick them up and deposit them back in a floating basket or bucket.
  • Tag – Begin by setting a boundary with 3 or 4 buoys. Use a large, soft, ball (like a kickball) and, yep…tag, you’re it.
  • Follow the Leader – Have the kids line up behind one another, let the sails out, and stop. Then the first boat starts on a course. The goal is that everyone follows in line without making contact.
  • Relay Races – Start on land and break into teams. Each team must sail to a mark and back, transition the next sailor and they do it too. Mix it up with having to do jumping jacks on the dock before they can go sail, or run an “obstacle course” when they get back.

These are just a few ideas to get the kids to learn without having them realize they are learning…which is another way of saying, learn while having fun!

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