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  • Writer's pictureHugh Lawrence

Giving children a chance to be successful sport participants for life: Part 1

There’s a conversation going on in sport and physical education today that asks whether our children’s experience of sport is good enough. I’ve previously blogged about the teaching of right behaviours and the basics of ethical action. But there’s another issue in early learning, and that is early teaching of the right stuff. So writing quickly, here is the first of a two-part set of ideas.

Let’s think for a moment. Few would argue that the physical skills children use in childhood to be active and, for many adults, later in life, include fundamental skill development. Longstanding observers and researchers of children’s sport, such as Judith Rink, note that these skills include both locomotor skills, manipulative patters, body management skills and socially appropriate behaviours.

Now thinking about New Zealand or any other country for that matter, sport is an important part of the nation’s cultural life. Fundamental manipulative patterns are critical to ensure that children can participate in an important part of our culture. Research tells us that active children are much more likely to be active participants later in life.

There is no reason why, at 10-11 years of age, all children should not be able to:

  • combine different physical movements (locomotor patterns) smoothly

  • transfer their weight from hands to feet and vice versa in a variety of skills

  • throw correctly for distance with an overhand and underhand action

  • throw and catch while moving (includes coincidence timing)

  • hit a ball consistently with a stick, bat or racquet

  • kick and receive a ball in an open game situation.

Then and importantly, to understand and apply, appropriate social behaviours that are central to socialisation generally and sport participation in particular. this early learning sets the scene for the likelihood of successful participation as an adult.

Part two of this post will look at what we might do about giving children a better chance of learning these basics.

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