It is an exciting time for sport in Canada, from grassroots community centre programs to our national elite programs. Why? Because sport groups from across the country and here in Manitoba recognize that our children aren’t getting from sport what they need in order to be active and engaged in sport for life.
Sport organizations recognize the power of sport and are working to improve the system to ensure our kids reap all the benefits. Research shows us that good sport leads to healthier kids, higher achievement, and lifelong activity.
And the research now shows us the best way to accomplish better sport for our kids. As a result of this research you can expect to see some changes to the traditional way sport programs have been delivered.
In order to have an enjoyable and positive experience playing sports, children need to have agility, balance, and coordination along with running, jumping, catching, and throwing skills. Think of it like school where a child is taught to read by starting with phonics and very simple sentences. They spend lots of time practicing and improving before they are asked to read a book. Imagine asking a child to read a book before they can read words. It would be a negative and frustrating experience.
Many traditional sport programs can be frustrating for kids that do not have basic fundamental movement and motor skills. Coaches are now being trained to emphasize these skills in their practices and new and improved quality sport programming is being developed and implemented. A focus on physical literacy will provide our kids with better sport experiences and increase the likelihood that they will be Active for Life.
It’s unrealistic and unfair to expect young children to play and enjoy sports in the same way that adults do. In other aspects of life we provide our kids with child friendly books, music and videos. Sport should be no different.
Kids are developing physically and mentally. Facilities, equipment, games, and practices will change to accommodate the physical and cognitive level of the child. These modifications are to help our kids’ progress in a positive way while learning skills, developing confidence and enjoying physical activity.
The more children get to touch the ball or puck…the quicker they improve their skills. This means smaller playing fields or surfaces, fewer players and more opportunities to practice as opposed to playing more games. When players can have their own puck or ball they develop their skills much faster, and they have more fun while they’re at it. It doesn’t matter if it’s tennis, soccer, hockey; the game structure needs to be modified for the developmental level of the kids.