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Exploring sport coaching and psychology
Exploring sport coaching and psychology

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Session 2: Coaching children: enhancing fun and friendships

Introduction

Do you remember learning to ride a bicycle and the thrill and enthusiasm that followed when you could? In this session you will consider how to harness and sustain that fun and excitement about learning something new. Your focus here is on children, roughly from 5 to 12 years old, since it is at this age that many lifelong habits and motivations are formed. Your exploration of guiding teenagers and the coaching of adults will follow on from this.

You will start by hearing from Michael Johnson and others talking about childhood sporting experiences and then move on to look at some young figure skaters. Children mainly play sport for two reasons: fun and friendship. You will explore this by looking at the inspirational work of a grassroots tennis coach and consider how this also applies to a team sport (football). Finally, you have the chance to have some childlike fun yourself by playing an online game called Medal Quest.

By the end of this session, you should be able to:

  • understand the risks of early specialisation in one sport during childhood and the benefits of pursuing a diversity of sports
  • identify how different people and researchers explain ‘fun’ in sport and the coaching implications of this
  • recognise how an understanding of children’s motivations and encouraging their sense of control over their sporting world is a healthy way of approaching coaching children.