Children are not so much interested in the knowledge that the coach has, but are interested in the amount of interest, the coach shows in them.
I will be writing many articles on this subject, Children in Sport, central to this topic will be; Why children may engage in organised sport; Why they may drop out of sport; Motivational processes associated with children’s participation; and ways which we may enhance children’s enjoyment in sport.
My views are based on independent and academic research which I have been able to study at various stages in my life. It is often difficult to relate the theory into practise. The views I express are held on my fingers tips, so that any factual independent research can blow these ideologies away, However, it must be independent and academic in nature, not in a sponsored web site, magazine or a “mate said so”.
I guess we have all read, or been convinced, that the overriding belief is that children’s participation in sport contributes to their physical, psychological and social development. One must always remember that these attributes associated with sport are only a potential for your children, they are not guaranteed by mere participation in sport. Potential benefits in terms of: physical development; skill and learning; fitness; positive self esteem; enhancing the ability to cope with stress; the development of social qualities such as empathy; the development of friendships; are all concepts most of us would agree are positive and want for our children.
We must remember though, that children are not little adults. There is no little, Adam Gilchrist’s, Ian Thorpe’s or little Emma Jackson’s. They are children, and have children’s needs, wants and values. They do not need to train as adults or be treated as adults. Children are not so much interested in the knowledge that the coach has, but are interested in the amount of interest shown in them. A holistic, humanistic approach to coaching provides insight into how to coach individuals.
Most of us have the belief that children’s sport should be fun, and it should be. This is one of the main reasons children will participate in organised sport. If you can find a program that offers fun, and a program/coach, that can contribute to the children’s psychological development, and an opportunity to become physically fit, then this is the one you want.
Children don’t necessarily look for organised sport to give them all the necessary psychological benefits, such as self-esteem, stress coping skills, adjustment skills for life and sport. However, it could be argued that the majority will be looking for some positive reinforcement in terms of self-esteem. When coaches, administrators put training sessions together we need to look at areas where we can enhance positive self-perception in a realistic manner. After all, children know when things don’t go well, so we need to honest with them. While it could be suggested that we can never guarantee success of this children in sport, I tend to disagree.
We all know children have different abilities, and different attitudes towards sport. Some are naturally faster, bigger, stronger, etc. Some mature faster in terms of physical and psychological development. That’s why when representative teams are chosen, children with birth dates at the start of the year dominate more than children born at the end of year. EG, a representative under 13 side will have more children in it who were born before May.
To me every child can be capable of some improvement in some area. That’s where we need to focus our guarantee of success, it may be something minor, it does not matter what it is, but once the child achieves, it should be celebrated by coach, individual team etc. Don’t wait for the scoreboard/time clock to tell you, that you have won, which may never happen. Look for individual improvements, something the child could not do a week/month/year ago.
Remember that a children’s perception of what happens at training, during a game, or event, is their reality, although it may not be yours or even real, it is their reality. So we need to understand how or why they interpret success and failure, after all we are trying to guarantee some form success.
Next week I will discuss the three categories which best describe characteristics associated with why children participate in sport: Image Conscious Socialisers, Competence-orientated Participants, and Reluctant Participants.