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Can you Coach Creativity?

Posted Wednesday, 21 June 2017

Everyone loves creative players.  They are the ones who light up sport, provide the wow, the priceless, memorable moments.  The flashes of genius that win the game.  They are so important to sport, both the results and the beauty that underlies it.  They are the household names.  They are memorable. They are disproportionately important.

It would be logical therefore, if the development of creativity dominated the debate regarding sports coaching. In schools, clubs and National Governing Bodies. Creativity has everything: effectiveness, desirability, inspiration.  But little attention.

Much coaching is aimed at the average player.  Drills, practices, coaching activities and games are dominated by fixed outcomes.  Everyone does the same thing most of the time.  Follow the same cones, run in the same patterns, pass the ball with...

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Who are the Real Losers in School Sport?"

Posted Wednesday, 21 June 2017

It's the end of the match day.  It might be Wednesday afternoon or Saturday morning.  Or any other time. The teams leave the field with contrasting body language which clearly divides the winners from the losers.  Exchanging handshakes of varying levels of sincerity, they head towards the inevitable post  mortem, to be conducted first by coaches, then by parents.

Nothing betrays the culture of sport in a school more clearly than the answers to the question, "How did you get on?"  Where the answer is confined to numbers, it is clear what is valued; when the scores are supplemented (or preceded) by an evaluative comment, such as "We had a great game" or "The girls played really well" it says something different about the culture.

But those who finish the game with fewer goals or points are not the real losers.  Most people can recognise that...

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Who are the Real Losers in School Sport?

Posted Wednesday, 14 June 2017

It's the end of the match day.  It might be Wednesday afternoon or Saturday morning.  Or any other time. The teams leave the field with contrasting body language which clearly divides the winners from the losers.  Exchanging handshakes of varying levels of sincerity, they head towards the inevitable post  mortem, to be conducted first by coaches, then by parents.

Nothing betrays the culture of sport in a school more clearly than the answers to the question, "How did you get on?"  Where the answer is confined to numbers, it is clear what is valued; when the scores are supplemented (or preceded) by an evaluative comment, such as "We had a great game" or "The girls played really well" it says something different about the culture.

But those who finish the game with fewer goals or points are not the real losers.  Most people can recognise that...

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“Do School Prospectuses Promote the Wrong Features of Sport?”

Posted Friday, 02 June 2017

Reunion Values – or Prospectus Values?

Sport plays an important part in school reunions.  Whether formal or informal, a gathering of people with their schooldays in common rarely omits reference to experiences on the playing fields. Although they are not universally positive – many are.

What do people value about their experience of sport at school?  Which memories are sufficiently powerful to be etched on the mind, and to have survived years of intervening activity?  And lasted far longer than the hastily collected facts that rammed reluctantly into the memory to facilitate exam passes?

Most involve a social dimesion.  “Playing with my mates” is the most frequently quoted positive recollection of school sport. And this is not ability dependent.  High performing teams value this as much as their counterparts in much less successful schools....

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Why Does Watching School Sport Make Adults Behave Like This?

Posted Thursday, 25 May 2017

If you only looked at the coaches and the spectators, it could be the World Cup Final.  The constant stream of instructions, encouragement, vilification and despair testify to the emotional commitment.  Regular comments about the officiating suggest that these people are at the edge of their self control.  If you turned the other way to look at the players, you might be surprised to discover that they are about 12 years old.

This scene is not reserved for the oldest, or highest performing, children.  It is immune to variations in sport, sex, age and ability.  It is driven by a primal desire. To win. And a fundamental misunderstanding of what winning means in youth sport. That finishing the game with more goals than the opposition is only one of the victories in schools.  Certainly, an important one. Learning the pursuit of competitive success is a...

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Schools Need Exercise to Improve Exam Grades

Posted Monday, 22 May 2017

"If exercise came in pill form, it would be plastered across the front page, hailed as the blockbuster drug of the century". Ratey and Hagerman

Schools have often implied a link between academic performance and physical activity.  Every summer term, the debate rages as to whether playing summer sports enhances or impedes exam performance. Missing lessons for sports fixtures is one of the all-time leaders of intra colleague friction.

Given this, it is perhaps surprising that the abundant science is not leveraged to clarify the facts regarding the undisputed benefits of exercise to learning.  Schools devote a significant amount of time to both physical activity and academic learning - and oddly little to the link between the two.

So, how does exercise benefit learning?  The following are a few of those ways:

Firstly, in addition to priming the...

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