If you are reading this post then congratulations for either signing up your child or thinking of signing up your child to a sport. It is a nervous time for many parents, particularly those with limited sporting experience themselves.
So what are you looking for in finding the right sport, the right coach and the right session?
Primarily, you should be looking for a quality sports experience for your child and ultimately it should be fun which can only lead to healthy child development. If your child finds their chosen sport or sports fun they will want to keep going back and potentially enjoy a lifelong affinity to that particular sport.
In the early stages there is no right sport, your child should be trying as many different sports as possible. Just because they show some ability in one sport does not mean that you need to focus all of your attention on that. The reality is that if they possess some ability in a particular sport they will also find several sports that they could also be equally as good at given the same amount of time.
The benefits of multi sports participation are already very well documented on the ‘Working with Parents in Sport’ website as well as the issues with focussing predominantly all year round on one sport.
If you are happy with the sports that your child is involved in and you are able to facilitate them then what are you looking for in the coach and the session?
One of the key figures in any sport at any age is the coach and they must be adopting a large number of the following principles if they are to be deemed a success :
- They must be a caring adult – with positive social skills, positive peer interactions and crucially your child must be feel safe both physically and emotionally.
- They must help foster friendships within a group – if they can do this children will stay in the sport for longer as one of the key reasons given by children for playing sport is to have fun with their friends.
- They must allow structured and unstructured play – if sessions are too structured, with too much standing around and too much talking going on then sessions can become very tedious. Unstructured play or indeed organised chaos will help develop creativity amongst the children.
- They must provide opportunities for practise and mastery. Children need to be participating at their own skill level and having success whilst the sessions should be developmentally appropriate for the age and ability of the children.
- They must keep the session flowing, lots of movement, lots of use of the equipment, motivate and allow children to do some things for themselves.
An excellent example of a good session can be seen in the video here. This has kindly been given to use by our friends at the Coaching Manual.
If you as a parent can tick all of the above boxes then you know you have found a great sport and a great session! There are lots of them out there if you are looking for the correct things.