NZ Coach links: November 2016
28 November 2016
The latest NZ Coach newsletter
“By others faults the wise correct their own” - Proverb
In 2007 former NBA basketballer Bob Bigelow came to New Zealand and presented at the Sport NZ (then SPARC) Connecting Coaches Conference in Wellington. Bigelow had recently published a book called Just let the kids play. Bigelow had written the book because he believed that too often adults were ruining sport for kids. Of course, Bigelow had many stories from his United States context to support his view - we all laughed at his ‘World Series for Under 6s’ stories, partly because it seemed (and is) ridiculous. And partly, I suspect, because we believed ‘only in America’. Now, while we here in ‘little ‘ol NZ’ have not exactly copied the excesses of the US sporting culture, we have seen a trend toward the commercialising and professionalising of youth sport. With this trend has come earlier specialisation and a greater focus on winning earlier in children’s sporting lives. Bob Bigelow’s ‘big idea’ was to create new approaches to play that better serve the physical and emotional needs of young athletes, and by doing so give more kids the desire to participate in sport for life. Almost 10 years on from Bigelow’s visit, his hope is echoed in the ‘physical literacy’ approach. Understandably, some of you right now will be asking yourself, ‘What’s the physical literacy approach?’ In the first story this month, Karen Laurie, Sport NZ’s Early Years and Primary School Consultant, discusses physical literacy and where fundamental movement skills (FMS) fit in to the physical literacy approach. Karen also highlights one way coaches might make sense of physical literacy when coaching kids.
Brett Reid, Community Coaching Consultant, Sport NZ
Bringing Physical Literacy to Life through Foundation Coaching
By Karen Laurie, Sport NZ
Okay, let’s get the ‘dry’ bit out of the way first … a person’s physical literacy is their motivation, confidence, physical competence, knowledge and understanding of physical activity.
Physical literacy is not a static state but can be best considered a person’s lifelong journey based on their choices about being physically active.
Physical literacy cannot be ‘taught’ as such. It will be the outcome of the many physical activity experiences a participant has including physical education (PE), play, sport and recreation. The more these experiences reflect ‘quality’ or ’value’ the more positive their impact on a person’s physical literacy.
As I travel around the country discussing ‘physical literacy’, a question I often get from coaches is: ‘Okay, I kinda get what physical literacy is, but where does that leave ‘fundamental movement skills’ (FMS) when coaching children?’
Achieving proficiency in FMS is one attribute that contributes to the emergence of physical literacy in young children. However, physical literacy requires the development of more than motor skills, and much more than achieving proficiency in FMS.
In recognising the multifaceted nature of physical literacy it becomes important to consider that while FMS contributes to physical competence, a person’s knowledge and understanding of how they move and explore the world also needs to be developed.
From this perspective it is perhaps more significant to focus on how these skills are developed and in what context. In short, an environment based on play, creativity and exploring movement is the best way for children to build their movement vocabulary and FMS.
But it’s fair to say that in recent years some children’s sport and physical activity programmes have overemphasised the physical and technical skills. Or as one person put it: “Have we got so busy teaching kids how to jump that we’ve forgotten to just let them jump for joy?”
At a recent physical literacy workshop at Sport NZ the attendees (from sports and Regional Sports Trusts) began looking at how coaches, parents and teachers can integrate the physical literacy approach into children’s programmes.
A couple of strong ideas came through:
· Start with the idea of developing ‘confidence and competence’ rather than developing ‘the basic skills’. This places the child’s needs at the centre of the session rather than the content or sport curriculum. It also recognises the interplay of children’s social, emotional, physical, cognitive, and spiritual skills.
· Focus on creating an experience that makes the kids want to come back and participate again.
One model Sport NZ is exploring as a way to assist foundation coaches support and motivate kids to keep participating looks like this:
Leave Me: Please leave me to play, have fun and work it out for myself.
Watch Me: As my parent/caregiver/teacher/foundation coach please just watch me, and let me know if you think I need physical, social, cognitive or emotional support.
Help Me: Help me if I need it, and when I’m ready. Please use questions and challenges that let me understand the help you are giving.
Let Me: Let me access lots of different opportunities and experiences, and let me participate fully.
Kids tell us they love sport and being active “because it’s fun!”
As coaches, parents and teachers, thinking about a physical literacy approach rather than the ‘fundamentals’ in these early years can be a great first step to getting kids to come back again for another session or game.
If you’re interested in this area or want to be part of the discussions – please contact Karen Laurie at Sport NZ: firstname.lastname@example.org
For more information on physical literacy go to: http://www.sportnz.org.nz/about-us/who-we-are/what-were-working-towards/physical-literacy-approach/
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