Almost every child, not just the athletically gifted, wants to and deserves to have an enjoyable experience through active games and sport.After all, when properly designed, sport and active games can contribute to healthy development in all developmental domains: physical, social, emotional, and mental.
Many child development specialists advise that the PLAYing field is an exceptionally good place to try out new ideas and skills.Unfortunately, when the sport environment puts a premium on winning and championships, there is very little tolerance for discovery, exploration and creativity on the field.Instead, players are required to do drill work (which they often report as boring and one of the main reasons they drop out of sport) in areas where the coach believes the team needs to improve in order to win the next game.Of course, this is not seen as a bad idea if you are willing to sacrifice the holistic development of each child for the sake of victory on the PLAYing field.
The abundant research now being published on brain-compatible learning gives overwhelming support for the approach of the Sport4All Program.Researchers, using sophisticated instrumentation, have found that the higher structures of the brain actually start to shut down during repetitive drill work and get invigorated in holistic, game-like, experiences where there is a constant challenge for problem solving.You could say that sport and active games provide uncountable opportunities for brain stimulation and “thinking on your feet” – especially in small-sided games where the participant is constantly engaged in the action of the game.The research is even clearer now on the importance of low stress environments for optimal learning.In situations that the participant perceives as stressful or threatening, the primitive part of the brain short-circuits the higher structures, leading to thoughtless reaction rather than mindful decision-making.The research further supports the idea that external evaluation, and especially criticism, restricts the development of creativity, a quality that is now highly valued and compensated by many employers.
In the programs for children under 7, we minimize or eliminate situations where children are playing against each other.The lesson plans are rich in skill development activities where the ball, itself, is the challenge, not an oppositional player.In the program for children of 7 & 8, we try to make games as close to cooperative as possible.Children at this age benefit by experiencing how enjoyable cooperative play can be.Many early childhood educators stress the importance of experiencing cooperative play prior to the introduction of competitive games.There are many situations where children will be playing against another, but I believe we can create the mindset that we are playing with playmates, not competing against an adversary.In the program for children of 9 & 10, most games are informally competitive, but the idea that an opponent is someone to be appreciated because he or she helps us to improve our skills is promoted. The fact that there is no formal league structureis the key!
This brief background is provided to give you insights into why we want the S4A coach to be:
·Child-Centered – you regard the player, not the sport, as your ultimate concern
·A Play Leader – you regard joyful play as more important than perfect play
·Non-Directive – you use questioning methods that promote discovery & creativity
·Holistic - you regard all developmental domains as equally important
·A Games Teacher – you let simple games and role modeling do the teaching for yourather than verbal instruction-giving and drills.
·Sportsmanship Conscious – You acknowledge and support good sporting behaviors
·Enthusiastic – you generate enthusiasm and motivation in others through your example
Hello and thank you for your interest in becoming a Sport4All coach.You will enjoy having a valuable influence on the development of young children and will, in all likelihood, experience valued growth in yourself and your relationship with your own child!!!
If you have not yet found YOUR way to give back to a universe that has supported and nurtured you, perhaps this is worth a try.I whole-heartedly invite you to do so!